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Private Tours Mean Business

Can private tours be the key for tour operators to reopen their businesses?  In our first Global Tours Connect roundtable, we talked about the concerns for safety and comfort for guests, tour guides, and partners.  One of the primary obstacles discussed was the idea of blended tours with guests who didn’t know one another. Many ideas flowed (and we invite you to read more about the ideas shared in our takeaways follow-up). But what really lead the conversation was the idea of focusing on private tours so we decided to have another roundtable centered primarily on that.

Private Tours Discussion Takeaways

Here are some of the best ways to develop and market private tours stemming out of our conversation: 

COVID Mitigation

This has to be at the top of the list. Ensuring guests feel safe is essential. This is also incredibly important for your guides and your partners. Work with your state and local officials and proudly follow guidelines. This builds confidence with your future guests. They want to know you’re doing everything possible to provide a safe experience. 

Make Private Tours Bookable Online

Typically a tour operator could spend up to two or three hours on calls and emails with one client to close the private tour. That is a lot of manpower invested. Look at offering your primary tour as private only, or include a private option that is bookable directly through your website. This will cut down on calls and allow guests the opportunity to book when they’re ready. Check out  Juneau Food Tours for an example of how to set up a private tour that is bookable online. If you are selling open tickets, check out the great options to up-sell tours to private on Devour Tours and Carmel Food Tours.

Screenshot of Carmel Food Tours private tours up-sell in booking funnel


Set up your Website

When changing your primary tour to be private, update your tour information on your website. Make private groups more prominent on site. Work with your website team and have private tours above the fold on your homepage. This is your money maker, make it the first and best option for your guests.  In addition, include any important changes such as tasting or meeting locations, mask requirements, and refund policies. Take out the back-and-forth with as much information as possible for your potential customers.


Price your private tours well. You are limiting your options to add to the group, so account for that. Include a group minimum. Don’t be afraid to drop the minimum persons per tour. Be a bit more flexible. For example, rather than a six person minimum, drop it to two, but charge for three. Tour groups are smaller and your time is valuable. Make it count. And, most of all, don’t forget the gratuities. Include them in the full ticket price. Take care of your guides. Once you have your margin you want, and the gratuities set, don’t forget to allow for commissions. Add 20%. It is an industry standard and you have worked hard to put the experience together. Don’t miss out on opportunities to have others sell your tours. 

Continuing the Private Group Conversation

This conversation was fantastic and definitely needs to happen again. We will be hosting another private tour roundtable soon. Keep an eye on our GTC Roundtables page for upcoming topics.

We appreciate the participation and feedback we’re getting on the roundtables. If you have a burning question or topic, let us know. These are conversations for you and your colleagues. Let’s keep connected!


Midgi & Lauren