My Thoughts on Bus Tours: Good but Extremely Overpriced.

In my travels, especially on business trips, I make an effort to explore the city I'm in.  If you have ever been to a large city, you have probably seen the crazy busses driving around town from various touring companies offering hop-on hop-off tours of the city.  Prior to TBEX, I had never taken one of these because I refused to pay the prices they were charging.  As an attendee of TBEX, I was given a special Vancouver Tourism Pass which permitted me to do some of the special tours and activities that normal customers are charged for.  One of the activities was a trolley tour of Vancouver.  For the price of free, it was hard to turn down this opportunity, not only to see the city, but to be able to finally experience one of these guided bus tours to be able to guage the value provided by these tours.

Monday morning, I decided to take advantage of the free offer and take the Vancouver Trolley Company tour.  They offer two tours, each lasting roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes, depending on traffic.  Their normal rate is $38 CDN for a day tour, which includes hop-on and off priviliges on both of the tours they offer.  You will be able to see the pictures I have when I do my post on the city itself, however this post deals with the value proposition of the bust tours.  

The tour itself was well done, professional, and entertaining.  I learned a lot about the city, however there was nothing presented in the tour that I could not learn online.  There were portions of it that I was just not interested in seeing, but the nature of the tour meant that I still had to go through them on the way to the more interesting places.  Having it guided made things easier for not having to look around and try to follow directions, but at the same time does not give any real stumbling around discoveries.  I have found many discoveries that are not on the official tours just by wandering around on my own going between points of interest.  

My issue remains the cost of the tour itself.  $39 (that is what the price is given the current exchange rate) is not a good value in my mind.  The information is fairly standard, and while it is possible to get a guide that makes it an experience, you can not guarantee that when you purchase your tour.  You can easily get online during your trip and discover any information on the places you stumble upon, and do your research beforehand on the places you want to visit.  These tours do serve a purpose, and at a lower price point, I would even be encouraging people to take them at every chance.  A day pass for $20 is quite reasonable for the service provided, especially since that gives you room to tip the driver if the tour was exceptional.  


Mark June 22, 2011 at 06:11 pm

I honestly don't remember the price of the similar hop-on, hop-off bus tours in London almost two years ago, but I felt they were worth it for the one-day passes we bought. Sure, we could have learned pretty much all the same info by reading web sites, but would we have? Could we have learned while seeing the sights? Would we have gotten to pass -- or hop off for a closer look at -- some of the more interesting but less-famous locales? Probably not.