In the Market for a Tour Guide? What to Know Before You Book.

Summer is just around the corner, and lots of out-of-towners are busy planning vacations to New York. For many visitors to the city, the trip would not be complete without a sightseeing tour. Unfortunately, far too many folks go for the cheapest tour they can find, or simply pick the first thing that comes up in a Google search, and later find themselves disappointed with their tour experience.
Soho shopping tour in New York, NY.
To offer tours of any kind in New York City, guides must be licensed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. The city makes an effort to ensure that tour operators are properly licensed, but it is still far too easy for an unlicensed guide to put up a website or print a brochure and offer tours to unsuspecting visitors. While sometimes less expensive, booking an unlicensed guide is detrimental to licensed New York City Sightseeing Guides who are trying to play by the rules. Tourists who book these unlicensed guides are also doing themselves a disservice, since they won't benefit from the knowledge and experience of a licensed guide.

In order to receive their license, NYC Sightseeing Guides are required to pass a
difficult test containing questions about New York history, architecture, sports, culture, geography, and more. (This exam requires months of studying, and many prospective guides do not pass on the first try.) If you're paying someone to show you the city, shouldn't they be able to provide you with historical information and interesting facts?

Thinking about booking a New York shopping tour? Below are a few helpful tips to make sure you're getting your money's worth.

 1. Ask to see your tour guide's license.
guidelicense2
A New York City Sightseeing Guide's license looks very similar to a driver's license or other identification card. If your guide is unwilling or unable to show you their license, there is a good chance that they don't have one. Proceed with caution.

2. Check the expiration date.
Don't book with a guide who has chosen to let their license expire and is continuing to give tours anyway. This, too, does a disservice to guides who have paid to keep their certification up to date.


3. Check it out with the Department of Consumer Affairs.
The DCA maintains
a list of every licensed guide working in the city. If your guide's name does not appear on this list, they are giving tours illegally.

4. Look for the star.
When viewing the DCA list, pay attention to guides with stars by their names. These guides scored exceptionally well on the
tour guide licensing examination.

5. Be wary of "cheap" tours or other offers that seem too good to be true. 
A knowledgeable licensed guide will usually charge upwards of $200 for a 3-4 hour private tour, with additional fees for larger groups, custom itineraries, or extra time. If your guide is charging significantly less than that, be careful. You just might get what you paid for.

One more note about "cheap" tours. You might find tour companies--even licensed ones--offering rates as low as $30-$40/person. Keep in mind that these tend to be large group excursions and not private, highly personalized tours.


At
Seek New York LLC, all sightseeing and shopping tours are led by a licensed NYC Sightseeing Guide who is also a professional costume designer and wardrobe stylist with years of professional New York City shopping experience. If you book a Seek New York shopping tour, you can rest assured that your tour will be a unique, informative, and enjoyable way to see the Big Apple.

Ready to book a
New York shopping tour? Use this form to get started!