With so much information on the internet about tours and operators, I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on what makes a great customer when visiting China :) While we love to work with all kinds of people, there some attributes of great customers that make us literally jump for joy. (Yes, that's me and some of our team in the pic :)
Here are five characteristics of customers that we absolutely love:
1) They share their needs and timing upfront! We often get a request like this, "I need a three day tour in April." That's nice, but with timing, interests, budget, guide availability, etc. it's difficult to recommend an itinerary that works for you. The more you tell us, the better we can do (and the better price since it saves so much time!)
2) They let us do our job :) We love to develop custom itineraries, but every once in awhile a customer will "over research" and want to design every hour and route of a tour. We love when you're actively involved, especially when you have specific interests! But we hand-craft our China tours to get the route and timing just right and the whole purpose of a custom tour is to stay flexible to learn, enjoy and refine as you go!
3) They understand the itineraries are flexible. Often we must tweak a tour itinerary in real-time based on everything from traffic patterns, site hours or even the weather. So while we always have an itinerary ready to make sure you (and we) have the day planned, sometimes we need to modify... and of course we'll explain why and keep you informed along the way.
4) They don't over negotiate the price. We know price is important! And of course that's the number one factor many people use in choosing a tour or provider. While we do our best to keep prices low, it's sometimes hard to match the lowest prices you find on the web. Many tours have "hidden" shopping, built in commissions, use guides with no experience, etc. These are games we don't play. We honestly provide the guides at the best prices we can and if we go lower, it leaves us no room to extend the tour a bit if needed, take that extra taxi ride or any other little expenses that come up during a tour the might prevent us from providing the best experience for you.
5) They are open to trying new things! This is usually not a problem... but hey China is different. Sometimes you'll need to use a toilet that is "non-western," accept a restaurant that is colder than you might expect or be served food that does not look familiar. We try our best to accommodate every need and comfort, but sometimes it's easier for all to accept things that are different... or even a little uncomfortable... and that's what travel and learning about other cultures is all about :)
I hope this does not come across as a lecture. We love all of our customers and sometimes the most difficult customers challenge us to be better and help us improve and grow. I hope to see you in China soon.