The Pompeii tour guide trap is easy to fall into since it even affects relatively respectable channels. Lets go through them one by one.
1. Booking Pompeii Tours Through Private Drivers and limousine car service companies.
This is perhaps the easiest way to when it comes to booking Pompeii tours. This happens when you arrive at Pompeii using a pre-booked private car. Private drivers are found generally through a car-service website or a network of agencies that feeds them with customers.
When you arrive, once the driver has gained your trust, you will then be suggested additional services to enhance your visit.
But here is the rub.
Quality private drivers doesn’t necessarily mean quality private guide. This is a case of misplacing your trust. The drivers look to add to their income by offering extra services and add the services of a guide. They charge you the customer the full price, and then they look for the guide via cell phone. But the drivers rarely want to pay the guide their official fee.
Frequently, it’s also happening at the last minute, so the quality of the guide you will get tends to be a lottery.
You should know that the better guides may work once for these private drivers once or twice with the private drivers they know already; but thereafter, they tend to avoid the experience because they don’t get the right money they should be paid for their services. For example, I have worked with virtually all the drivers in the Bay of Naples for 20 years, and I have my own preferred pre-selected group of drivers. However, it is extremely rare these days that I accept work of this kind.
2. On the spot Guides:
These are local guides at the main entrance to the Pompeii archaeological site. Many of these “guides” began working in the tourist shops many years ago. They learned a few words of some foreign language, and from this let’s say, they auto-qualified themselves as guides.
You know that just deciding one day that you are a local guide does not mean you have the qualities to communicate what a place really means to visitors.
This may do for certain places in the world, but for the complexity of Pompeii, it is not enough. Many of these self-declared guides are still there getting their clients at the entrance of the site half a century later. Today since the end of 2008, they have created a kind of formalized booking gazebo or tent outside of the main entrances of the site of Pompeii. Whatever the system, the risk that you run is the same….and this is to end up with a very poor level of guiding.
Generally it is common for the “on-the-spot” Pompeii Tour “guides” take you into the site, give you a quick tour around and then leave you to continue “to explore the site on your own”.
Why do they do this? Why do they leave you in the middle of the site? Your are left by them in the middle of the site of Pompeii so that they can rush back to the gazebo to get their names on the list in time to do another tour with more poor clients. Who would have imagined!
The result is that you’ll have to continue by yourself exploring rather than to be shown a more appropriate tour escorted from start to finish for a couple of hours.
I am not saying that every single guide outside the site that is of a poor quality. There are good quality guides there too. But the risk for your the client, of finding a guide outside Pompeii in this way is that you end up with a poor quality guide, because you do not have the opportunity to choose your guide due to the waiting list system. Even if you meet a guide outside that you do like, the waiting list system means you get allocated whoever is next on the list. It is all a question of luck of the draw.
You may ask yourself, how could all this happen in such a world famous and important site? And you are quite right to ask. It is through mismanagement and corruption in the industry, but that is a whole different article. Lets look at a final group that you could also run into – the Pompeii site Guards.
3. Pompeii Site Guards
The Site Guards are responsible for controlling the site and keeping visitors safe. But the most frequent complaints I hear are about the things that are in their control:-
People complain about
* The stray dogs
* The dirtiness of the site of Pompeii
* Lots of houses inside the site are closed.
* There is no one to ask information or direction.
Why all this is happening?
Because the guards sometimes offer their services to visitors who are inside a site and need information rather than doing their own job of controlling the site and ensuring people are safe. They began doing this in a similar way to the self-declared guides decades ago, and they are still there.
If you get hurt, rather than being there giving assistance, some site guards are working illegally as guides.
In my opinion, each person is their own profession. Leave the guards to guard the site. If you want a guide, book a decent guide before arriving.