Speaking of the tourism and recreation, I think, I should tell how tours in Altai are made. About an inner, invisible side for tourists.
We are in the middle of active preparation, so I'm going to share an actual info with you. Here you could learn about what are the tour operators occupied with during the off-season: 10 things to do during the off-season.
To begin with, we should make things clear: the tour itself - those days for tourists in Altai - is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of preparation. You contact with the guides and drivers - they all are not just faces of a tour company, but the tour itself. For you they are the key elements in organizing a tour. After all, depending on how much they succeeded, you will make up your opinion about the tour.
It is not exactly so, in fact. We start working on a tour long before placing it to the website. The general preparation is being made before the tourists' arrival.
In such a monstrous table we work on the itinerary - where and how a traveler is moving within a tour
There were a lot of tours elaborated and closed, we tried to feel, to get experienced - changing programs, formats and approaches every year. Two years ago we began working on a new tour. We started with research, with polling our former clients, making a project and with all the stuff like that).
This way or another, we got a concept done; it takes a couple months to make up the web-page for the tour and upload it to the site. What's next?
Tourists' impressions are always different. As well as we can't step twice into the same river, we can't get two equal tours
Our tour is a hybrid. It is a mixture of many things based on travelling through Altai. Basic needs go first: hotels, meals, transport and then the other things. We make it up as a multi layered pie. An 'ordinary' tour is quite linear - have meals, have an excursion, have a sleep; but in this tour you may get a new experience, for example, while having meals, and taste something unusual during an excursion). You may get more impressions for the same unit of time.
The main issue of the project - to tie all these things together, apply to the area and figure out some alternative options for the cases of the seasonal deviations.
For example, if there are no rooms at one hotel, the closest alternative might be 50 km away
That is a thin sphere in Altai - there are few good hotels and even fewer rooms there. The number of rooms and some extra services are being approved; we make agreements with hotels, send requests to them and make payments. Every single season we go through the one and the same quest, because over a winter the hotels may completely change their staff, and then it comes again. We start with the hotels because many nuances of itinerary depend on the hotel's location.
Insurance in a tour: hygienic factor. Just in case...)It is all about necessary documents for a journey. Foreigners must apply for the pass in advance - 1-2 months before (rules change every year). Insurance is an ordinary procedure.
There are local guides working on the specialized routes
There is a 'general' instruction on a tour. There is also 'list of the route' for the particular journey. It contains the hotels and the rooms, timing of the itinerary, necessary contacts, spots of payment and reporting documents.
A year has passed from the idea till the delivery: several months at the customs
Usually it takes enormously much time. We have many demands. Let's take a bike for a new tour: we need a folding bike with small wheels. There are many bikes suitable to these parameters. But then some limitations come - there must be planetary hub (because we ride on the hills), there must be double rim (the roads are not so flat). It should be nice looking. Now the list contracts to 1-2 models. One of them costs 120000 RUB and doesn't fit in the budget, the other is stuck at the customs. That is our reality.
Here is some more info on choosing the equipment (in a shell — we choose neither the cheapest, nor the most expensive: rather optimal things).
We try to pay as many services as we can, including excursions. That is not, however, a remedy from standing in queues: service in Altai is not on such a high level.
Time for the total check. The contracts are being printed, we go through the check-list and give the guide all the necessary materials. Then we are ready to start.
We can't guarantee the absence of problems during a tour. There might be more than one wheel torn at once, or a flood... The tour operator solves the problems - gives a reserved transport and alternative variants. The only thing we can guarantee is solving problems, but not their absence.
Organizer makes sure everything goes well; he checks before visiting some places if they remember about us to make sure they accept us.
On the tour the itinerary is being carried out by the guides, they can contact and report; they solve problems by themselves or with the organizer.
The guide is welding the frame of the motorcycle at the Kurai steppe (2012)
We consider preliminary preparation the most important thing. Because solving problems during a tour is 'a fire fighting', and we should make sure there are not any. That becomes possible through projecting, detailed studying and figuring out, the thorough preparation and following the plan. Another moment - the organizing process shouldn't be noticeable to the travellers. It must be 'seamless' to let them feel they do it all by themselves. We are aimed to becoming unnoticeable guides for a traveller to get more travel experience, but not readymade solutions.
Of course, there is always a place for improvising, even purposely, reasonably limited - to make it safe. More and more and more of new experience).
Equesto CEO (FB)
Chapter 15. Organizing a tour
If you are going to visit Altai, you probably started with searching for the information in the internet: how, what, where, how much, what are the routes, reservation, sightseeings and tours. That's a huge work and it is time consuming.
Our mailing is a set of several letters full of concentrated and structured information, links to well-tried sights and sources and answers to questions.