Should I Add Private and Custom Tours to My Company’s Portfolio?

Private and Custom Tours: Should I Add Them to My Company’s Portfolio?

Travelers’ mindset has been changing over the past years. Before, mass tourism was the industry’s standard, now, more and more people are prioritizing meaningful experiences when traveling.

To keep up with this trend and boost their bookings, many tour operators are adding private and custom tours to their portfolios.

But, are these products ideal for your business? This is what we are going to discuss in this article.

What is the difference between private and custom tours?

focus on a tour guide talking to a group of tourists private custom tours

First things first. Private and custom tours might sound like they are the same thing. So let’s establish a difference between these two terms before we continue.

  • Private tour: A tour that contains a pre-established itinerary that is sold to a single client or a closed group.
  • Custom tour: A completely customized itinerary that is built accordingly to the wishes and necessities of a customer or group.

Private tours are easier to create and sell since the tour operator has the freedom to build the itinerary. Once the experience is ready to offer, your only concern will be finding the right audience to buy your product.

The latter demands more attention and dedication from the tour operator. But in the end, you will be able to charge a premium price for the service.

Private and custom tours vs. Pre-packaged tours

From a customer’s perspective, there are many advantages to booking a private or custom tour:

  • It is a personalized experience
  • It gives the opportunity for travelers to connect with the local culture and get in-depth knowledge about the destination
  • Guests will enjoy the experience in a small group with people they already know
  • There is space to add off-the-beaten-track places and attractions to the itinerary
  • Flexible itinerary and departure times that are adjustable according to the traveler’s needs
  • Travelers who decide on this type of experience usually get more satisfied at the end of the tour

Pre-packaged or scheduled tours, on the other hand:

  • Have strict departure times and itinerary
  • The experience can be spoiled depending on the number of people in the group
  • Usually, pre-packaged tours just scratch the surface of the destination’s culture and attractions
  • The guide can’t give personalized attention to all the guests in the group
  • In this type of experience, it’s harder to connect with the people and places visited
  • The price is more accessible, but travelers should not expect a premium service

Now that it’s clear the difference between private and custom tours and their advantages compared to pre-packaged tours, let’s discover if they are worth your investment of time and money.

Are private and custom tours a good addition to my business?

Since travel resumed, there is an increasing demand for tailored experiences.

We are talking about a market that is expected to reach $620.71 million by the year 2032, which represents a CAGR of 17,8%.

The reason for this growth is that people want to straighten their bond with their loved ones by living memorable experiences together. This is a trend that has been growing strong since the pandemic and something mass tourism is not able to deliver.

In addition to high demand, another reason why you should invest in such experiences is that you can charge a premium price for them.

On average, you can charge 30% more for custom over scheduled tours.

That is a big relief for the cash flow of tour operators that are still recovering from the travel shutdown of the past two years.

How to create a unique experience for your guests

traveler stunned by gljufrabui waterfall cascade private custom tours

If you decide to offer private and custom tours to your guests, it is important that you understand what your ideal customer is expecting from a memorable and hyper-personalized experience in your area.

Do they want to learn about the destination? Experience an adventure? Blend with locals? Taste the traditional gastronomy?

Doesn’t matter. You will need to think out of the box if you want to create a tour that will stand out from the average.

Designing a private tour

A private tour should be an experience that outstands your day-to-day tour. To attract special guests you should offer a plus. That can be an add-on, such as a wine-tasting experience at the end of the tour, or a visit to a local community to give your guests a taste of the locals’ life.

Remember that this type of guest is willing to pay more for an in-depth and memorable experience. So think carefully about the activities you will add to your private tour.

If you want to have a better idea about what your customers want to see in a premium tour, a good start is surveying past customers. Other ideas are, reading customers’ reviews, talking with potential customers in online forums and Facebook groups, and even taking a look at what competitors are doing.

Planning a custom experience

When we talk about a completely customized trip, there isn’t a one size fits all experience.

Each traveler will have a specific interest and expectation that you will need to fulfill. For this reason, clear communication with your guest is very important from the moment the service is booked.

A slow reaction to customer queries can make your guests lose interest in the tour and search for an alternative in the market.

When you are in contact with your guests, make sure to ask the right questions. Is your job to discover their interests, hobbies, tastes, and anything else that can help you in planning the trip. The more you know your guest, the better will be the experience.

Adding unexpected elements to the tour could be a good way to enhance the tour. You can pick them up at the hotel or bring them to a cooking class with a local chef, for example.

How to price private and custom tours

private custom tours article illustration

Pricing a private or custom tour is no easy task. You need to take into account different variables to come up with a price that is fair to your customer at the same time will cover all of the tour expenses.

The first step is to know your fixed costs, such as expenditures on vehicles and maintenance of equipment, guides’ salaries, the necessity of insurance, etc. These numbers are the base of your pricing strategy.

Pricing private tours

Pricing a private tour is easier compared to a custom tour. The reason is that you will do it just once and review it periodically. A custom tour, on the other hand, has a different price for each customer or group.

A common mistake when pricing a private tour is charging double or triple the price of a regular tour. According to market data, this can drive away potential customers. It’s recommended that you keep the price point around 30% above the price of your average tour.

Another tip is to set a price based on the minimum number of guests. Think about how much a group would pay per person for the private tour and plan a decrease in this value based on tiers of additional guests.

For example, three is the minimum number of guests you are expecting for a tour. If three of them book it, each guest has to pay 100 dollars, but if they invite two more friends to participate, the price drops to 75 dollars per person.

Pricing custom tours

Pricing a custom tour is way more difficult since each experience will be unique and will demand a different amount of your time to plan, organize and operate.

For this type of tour, you need to take into account not only the fixed but also the variable costs of each attraction and activity your guests are planning to add to the itinerary.

If your customer has a limited budget, you can remove extras or add components of regular trips to the tour. This way you can lower the price while still providing a personalized experience to your guests.


Demand is high for personalized experiences. So, if you are thinking of new products to boost your revenue, offering private and custom tours is a great addition to your company’s portfolio.

But remember, a tailor-made tour should be memorable from the booking to the post-trip.

If you want to learn how an online booking system can enhance your guests’ experience and offer a seamless booking process for your private and custom tours, read our ebook Advantages of Using Online Booking Software.

Thank you for subscribing the newsletter

Low Budget Digital Marketing Strategies for Tour Operators

In this ebook you will learn strategies to boost your digital marketing efforts, and the best part, at a low and even zero cost for your business.

Get eBook arrow

Related articles