Why Would Anyone Book A Photo Tour : One the face of it, why would you book a photo tour? Companies that sell these trips make a profit, don’t they, so it must be cheaper to do it yourself. We discuss these matters below, and other factors worthy of consideration.
To Save Money
All other factors being equal, you would expect that booking your own holiday services would get a better price than if you were to book through a tour operator. However, other factors do come in to play.
For a start, most photo tours are designed to operate for groups. This means that many costs can be shared amongst the participants. This is most relevant to fixed costs (one that vary little relative to the group size) rather than variable ones (ones that vary per person, pretty much). A private vehicle would generally fall into the former category; train tickets into the latter. A one week vehicle hire paid in full would amount to something in the order of $1500, depending where in the world and the distance to be travelled. If this were split with even three others the saving will far outweigh any profit margin added by the organiser.
The organiser should also be able to negotiate better prices on behalf of the group, especially for accommodation and perhaps meals. A traveller unfamiliar with a country will most likely pay rack rates. Local agents will often get substantial discounts to help fill rooms year-round. Even when their profit is added, and that of the organiser, the net cost to the customer can actually be less than rack rate. Even if not, booking this way brings with it much more confidence. They will be more secure (easier to turn away a one-time-only customer than upset a local partner) and the group should have enough clout to get issues with rooms/services dealt with promptly.
Thinking selfishly, how much nicer for you to be able to complain to your tour leader and let them deal with an issue than have to take up with local staff who may not understand and/or care.
To Get More Time Taking Photographs
Booking your own travel services should take a considerable effort. If you do not do proper research then you can expect a few surprises on arrival, and these are unlikely to be of the pleasant kind. In most cases you will need to stump up a considerable proportion of the costs as the local provider cannot be sure how serious you are without. Certainly, if there are any amounts they need to spend on your behalf they will want these up front. That is comparable to paying for a tour where you will normally need to pay the full amount at least a couple of months in advance – the difference is that with a tour operator you stand some chance of getting your money back if services do no materialize.
At the very least you would need to pre-book some of the accommodation, all if you have a definite schedule. You would probably also need to book flights/trains in-country and perhaps the services of a local guide if language is an issue. That could still leave a considerable amount of things needing to be arranged during your trip – and that will take time out of your schedule and could require more than a little patience.
So long as a photo tour has been arranged with the photography at the forefront, and with a degree of flexibility, you should find that you are shooting for the vast majority of the time. All day every day might be a bit much to bear let alone ask for, but during your photo tour operator research phase you should ask for an estimate of the time spent on photography and see that this meets your requirements.
Once your research is complete and you have booked a photo tour you are pretty much done for arrangements, at least as far as the in-country experience is concerned. The itinerary should make it clear whether you do need arrange other things yourself but, generally, you will only have flights, a visa and insurance to think about.
To Meet And Learn From Fellow Photographers
You might be lucky and have a group of companions that you travel with but for most, one of the attractions of a group tour is the social aspect; a chance to meet others who obviously have similar photographic interests and who might, perhaps, offer some actions or thoughts that will improve your own images.
On a photography workshop there is a leader who provides instruction but even on a photo tour there are likely to be a mix of characters and experience levels such that much can be gained from each other. One might, perhaps, have a more technical knowledge, another more experience with artistic points such as composition and lighting. Another might be more familiar with the local culture and add another dimension to the trip as a whole.
You may not realise the advantages that other bring until after your trip but, unless you get some complete idiot on the tour, it is likely that you could well start off some new friendships, more easily maintained is this high-tech modern world.
Only you can weigh up the factors raised above and decide what is best for you but you should at least now take the time to consider whether a photo tour might suit. Don’t write them off as expensive and unsuitable. You could well be surprised on both counts.