Discounts are possible, but please read this first!
We assert that our fees are fair and that we give the best service in our region. It is our privilege to serve you but it is simply a fact that we are the best guides in Varanasi. If you want to test this, try talking to any other guide on the phone and ask them basic questions. Your travel agency probably will refuse to let you talk to your guide before paying, but in any case if you talk to them you will like our guides more in every way.
Our tour fees are higher than the typical person’s hourly wage. It is true that the majority of people in Varanasi make less than Rs 200 per day. There have been times when foreign clients (from Manhattan, Singapore, London, Paris, etc) have hired our guides, been pleased with the service for 8 hours, then insisted that they only need to pay Rs 4-800 for the day because that is more than the average wage in our city. Since this happened we decided to put everything in writing before the tours. Some people ask us why we charge more than the average wage and this page explains why.
One part of the answer is that people who speak good English, have lots of training, and have spent lots of time working with foreign tourists and researchers require more money to compensate and maintain their skills than the average person living in Varanasi. The cultural gap even between educated English-speaking Indians and foreigners is huge; the average English-speaking Indian will not give a tour of interest to non-Indians without cultural training. Being a good tour guide requires a lot of experience and friendships with foreign people which cannot be cheaply gained. Another part of the answer is that Groovy Tours keeps a webmaster, computer support, office space, secretarial support, writers, an accountant, and has to pay a lot for computer equipment and books. If you meet our guide at your hotel that does not mean he is a person working alone with no expenses.
As part of their continual training our guides need to maintain their lifestyles as well as travel, visit hotels which would be appropriate for our guests, hire guides in other cities, and visit a lot of tourist attractions. Being a tourist is expensive for Indians also; good hotels charge the same for Indians as they do for foreigners.
The lifestyle of a tour guide requires a lot of time spent online. Computer costs and internet service are more expensive in India than it is in many places in America, Europe, and Australia. All guides have to have cell phones. All guides continually learn computer applications.
Our staff want the option to visit foreign countries at least once every few years. What percentage of our guides’ yearly income do you think it would cost for them to fly to your country and take the least expensive ten-day tour, assuming that the objective is to live cheaply while visiting non-profit organizations, seeing primary attractions, and meeting local people? Do you think it is a legitimate dream or a good business and education investment that our guides may want to see your country?
It is not possible to be a good guide of Varanasi without participating in city functions. Groovy Tours regularly sponsors cultural events, such as meetings with free tea and snacks for local people or music and dance events. We have to maintain professional relationships with people at monuments, museums, ashrams, monasteries, schools, NGOs, and other organizations. If we ask these people to do research for us, teach us, or provide special service to us then it is only right that we pay them, because many of these people just are not getting proper pay otherwise.
Part of your money to Groovy Tours is donated to NGOs and other good causes. If you want to make a donation to a good cause in Varanasi then contact us about arranging donations.
If you still want a discount
because you do not like our fees then we are willing to volunteer our time for you if you are willing to donate generously to an NGO or charity. We will ask that you still pay at least what we are asking you to pay. You ought to donate more since in this transaction the burden of the donation is entirely on us as you are receiving the service and we receive nothing. The donation preferably would go to an NGO in Varanasi but perhaps to an organization in another Indian city would be good. We can recommend many organizations but it is your choice. We will accept no commission or any part of your donation.
If you want a discount and do not want to make a donation
then respond to this page and tell us why you think you should pay less. A good explanation would be that you are from an economy which is poor compared to this local one, or that you are willing to volunteer time here. We are asserting that our prices are fair. This business is not making any of us rich. If you can accept these things and still have a good reason for a discount (poor foreign students and volunteers sometimes just cannot afford us without a discount) then write to us. First check our availability, and if we can, we may be able to give a discount.