This article is based on several conversations with tourists who have visited Toledo and with whom we were able to talk at length. In addition to other aspects, the topic of “free tours” was highlighted in all of them. We know that it is not a new phenomenon, but we also know that there are few forums where the opinions of the companies that do not offer “free tours” and our reasons are expressed, so we would like to share with all of you our vision about this type of routes.
An example of this Free Tour phenomenon
Imagine the following scene, a couple arrives in our city and strolls quietly through the Plaza de Zocodover, immediately observe that there is an unusual landscape, on a Sunday morning, more than ten multicolored umbrellas gather in this space offering the passerby, whether he wants it or not, the so-called “free tour”, a “free” tourist route through the city. Surprised, they ask to know more about this bargain: but is it really free? To which they answer that it is not exactly like that, in fact we know that in the end tourists pay the same or sometimes even more than what they pay for a fixed price tour, paradoxes of the market…
Faced with this situation we ask ourselves, what is behind all this? And above all, is this the best way to offer Toledo?
From our point of view, this activity generates a fight for the hunt of the tourist that can generate with the passage of time the opposite effect to the desired one, and create a rejection of the visitors in front of so much and so chaotic offer. For us, the quality of tourism also depends on how Toledo is offered.
Put yourself in the shoes of a visitor who has not even considered a route and just wants to stroll through the square, pass by because he is meeting a friend for a coffee, or simply wants to rest from so many hills, how would he feel being approached by several people under an umbrella offering him a free guided tour that in the end is not free? Would he feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable, deceived?
It is possible that many of the pedestrians who stroll through Zocodover are tourists and also want to take a route, but what do we do with the others? How to distinguish them? Is this attitude correct for the passerby, whether or not they are tourists?
We also want to make it clear that until there is a specific regulation in this regard, there is a legal vacuum in this modus operandi, and if the Administrations remain silent or leave it alone, it is completely legitimate for companies to offer their services in this way, and of course, there will be an audience for it. This is so, but it is not less certain that this is the most desirable situation if we think about the quality of tourism, shouldn’t it be the other way around, that it is the interested tourist who requests the information? Fortunately, nowadays there are several tourist information offices, information booths, hotels themselves, websites, telephones, and even places where companies offering this type of services are located, without having to take public space, especially in cities that want the experience through their streets and squares to be as pleasant as possible so that they can take away a pleasant memory of the place they have visited.
Price of the “Free” Free Tour in Toledo
It is not free, in the end you have to pay anyway, and even at the end, customers are invited to pay a minimum price, suggesting that the route that has just been done has an original price of 12 €.
The “free tour” turns out to go from “free route” to “free price” route, and from “free price” route, to a route of around 12€…
Obviously with things like this and beyond the notoriety of these “free tours”, the guided tour “product” itself is trivialized and at risk of becoming a mere souvenir… Something that neither for the heritage, nor for the visitor, nor for the profession, is good.
Of course, the visitor is ultimately free and sovereign, and is the one who has the last word with his decision. For our part, we insist that this article only intends to answer some doubts that have come to us from travelers who encounter this panorama, and who often refer to it with some dismay.
Reasons for not offering the Free Tour in Toledo
So, when faced with the question of what to hire, or what option may be the best for our guided tour of Toledo, we give below the reasons that in our opinion, are on the side of those companies and initiatives that do not offer “free tour”:
To be able to choose knowing what you choose. You have the freedom to choose with time and criteria, knowing what you choose, the theme of your route, its duration and what is most important, the final price, without surprises.
To always be able to offer the best.
For us this is the most important point, if there is no quality, there is no service. Not just anything goes here. Only with an internal quality criterion can you offer the best to your customers. In this sense we have specialized in very specific themes and we promote a whole series of cultural activities that always seek a single objective: to always offer the best of us and never guided tours in bulk or in series…
To have the same opportunities.
An essential aspect linked to professional ethics. We offer our services in a framework of equality and open competition, which will be hired or not by the clients according to their free criteria, always respecting their decision capacity and without pressuring anyone.
We will never tell you anything that is not true. The information must always be clear, truthful and exhaustive, with all kinds of details, what is included and what is not included, the price it has, and answer all kinds of doubts.
With all this we want that your questions, if not all, some, have been clarified, so that you also have this other point of view, because there is a different way to treat travelers, a company philosophy that believes in quality and where Toledo deserves the best of each one. Where the “guided tour” is not a product of low cost culture and has to do with the spiritual, ethical and aesthetic meaning of guiding a traveler through the streets of a historic and monumental city.