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JAN-FEB 2017

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Page 12 of 51 13 J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7 S P E C I A L E X P E R T I S E There are plenty of guides in Paris who can tell you when the Eiffel Tower was built. But if you have a demanding group of travelers or are putting to- gether a trip based around a special area of interest, a garden-variety guide with only general knowledge might not deliver the kind of experience you're seeking. In popular destinations, it's common for guides to develop specifi c areas of expertise, such as indigenous culture, fl ora and fauna, classical civilization, religious history, arts and cuisine. As you work on fi nding the right guide in the areas you plan to visit, keep in mind what you know about the interests of travelers in your group, and seek guides who can work in those specialties. If the idea of scouring destina- tion websites looking for the right guide seems intimidating, rest easy: Expert travel assistants in cities and countries around the world are standing by to help. In the United States, they work for organizations commonly known as convention and visitors bureaus; abroad they may be known as tourist offi ces or tour- ist boards. These are the people in charge of promoting tourism to their destinations, and they're usually well connected to local suppliers. Ask the professionals at these organizations to recommend the local guides who would be the best fi t for your group's interests and budget. R E F E R E N C E S In a destination with a lot of guides, rates are like- ly to be set by market forces. You might pay by the hour in some places; guides might charge a day rate in others. It may seem attractive to fi nd the guide who offers the cheapest rate, but remember that you gen- erally get what you pay for: If you want guides with special-interest expertise, a lot of experience or a dy- namic presence, be prepared to pay more for them, as they are likely in high demand. Also, you should inquire as to the tipping custom in the places you visit, since some local guides rely heavily on tips from individual travelers to supplement their incomes. If you're planning the details of a tour yourself, you might want to go one step beyond hiring a tour guide and enlist the services of a receptive tour operator. These are tour companies that specialize in hosting groups in their home cities or regions, and they can help group leaders in a variety of ways. In addition to providing local guides, receptive operators can often help with hotel bookings, make restaurant reservations, set up immersive experiences and even arrange motorcoach transportation. If you can afford to pay for their services, you'll fi nd that the amount of work they take off your plate is a welcome relief. C O M P E N S AT I O N E X T R A S E R V I C E S

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