There are literally thousands of tour companies in Morocco offering tour services and it is really is a country where hiring one of those companies can make your trip so much easier to manage and enjoy. Choosing the right company can be daunting and we hear all the time from people who are frustrated looking. Word of mouth is the best referral and most often TripAdvisor is a good place to vet your choices. Even then there are some tips to separate the casual entrepeneur from the serious travel professionals.
Let’s review a few key points to help in making that decision.
TOUR COMPANIES IN MOROCCO
There are a ton of companies offering tour services. Anywhere from huge overseas brokers (think big bus, “Here’s your number, don’t tell us your name there’s no time for that”) to enterprising nomads with access to a laptop and every notch in between. A few things to look for in a company: The background of the owners – years of experience in tourism, qualifications, time spent in Morocco. Ultimately you want people with access to western banking systems, GUIDE experience and tourism experience.
Check out the website – is it professional looking? Do they advertise? Do they check all the social media boxes like Facebook and Instagram? Do their English sentences sound like native English? Does their website English match the email communication English?
A lot of rookies buy their “perfect English” websites to appear western and a lot of newbies copy and paste from websites with less than perfect English in order to get online. If the communication is consistent across the website, emails and social media, then they are probably a consistent operator.
GUIDES IN MOROCCO
The tourism industry in Morocco is booming and we have a lot of guides in the system. Understanding the roles they play is the first step in decision making.
The Licensed Guide
In Morocco, to be a guide, you must have a license. There have been a lot of problems In the distant past with “faux guides” (fake guides), who would lure you in to shops and who didn’t have your best interest at heart.
In the past, having a license automatically meant that you had achieved certain standards of training.
Recently the system opened up to bring more guides into the system and some of those guides have not received any formal training. It’s very important for you to confirm that your travel partner 1/ has a license and to 2/ find out about their past experience.
If you are going to be traveling from place to place in Morocco, you will want to work with a national guide.
- They can escort you on your journey, offer the best information, book your hotels and transport.
- They know the roads, the local rules and who provides the best service along the way. Those with past experience or guides who have worked for larger tour operators currently or in the past are your best bet.
- They will have received extensive training in safety procedures, first aid, and logistics for groups of all sizes.
- They will know how to professionally handle your groups whether it’s finding a clean restaurant, dealing with problems, or getting 20 people into taxis at a train station without creating a circus.
- They can explain to you in depth about the culture, history and politics as well as access authentic experiences and they are good at avoiding the big tours.
Local Guides These guides are required when visiting cities.
They are only licensed to work in their city and they alone can take you to local monuments and museums. Contracted for you by your national guide, or hired by you on site if you travel alone, the local guide holds a deep knowledge of the city and it’s lore. You will see them only during the day and only in the city they are licensed in.
Many new local guides came into the system in 2018 to handle the growing tourist industry. Some are fantastic and very professional while others only want to take you to their Uncles shop to buy things.
Try getting your local guide online before you arrive, or through your hotel or Riad. Don’t choose a local guide who approaches you near the tourist attractions.
Also, have a conversation with them before you agree to hire them to see if they speak enough of your language to make it worthwhile. You don’t want a guide whose knowledge of your language extends to “there is a tower.”
Tip: Your local guide may be included if you are working with a tour company, but it is always welcome to offer them a thank you for their service of 100 to 200 dhs based on their quality of service.
Drivers When you hire a reputable tour company they may choose to give you an English speaking driver for your trip.
The driver will focus only on driving when it’s appropriate and will make stops when he can spend time with you to explain the sights and local culture.
This is typical if you are 2 to 4 people or for shorter trips. Drivers typically do not book hotels, instead relying on their tour company to make those arrangements.
Drivers also don’t have the depth of knowledge that you might get from a national guide so you may use local guides more extensively for questions about culture and politics.
Choosing the Right Tour Company
As we mentioned there are thousands of companies offering tours in Morocco and the range of service you will receive is vast. Do some homework and be sure you comfortable with your chosen partner. If something does’t feel right in your communication, simply move on to the next.
It’s important to find the right fit for your trip. It’s a big deal to come to Morocco and you want to work with a travel partner that gets that and will help fulfill your wishes.
When people work with Roaming Camels Morocco to plan their holiday in Morocco they often ask, “Well my tour guides name really be Mustapha”?
Honestly, and we value honesty, no.
Mustapha is a name that was assign to the guide in our blog. Your tour guide could be named Mustapha, if he is available. It could also be Rachid or Fars or Mohammed and Abd. It will depend on who is assigned to your group.
We have a wide variety of guides that are carefully vetted by our owners and who all meet a standard of service that makes both Mustapha, AND the VIP, very happy.