Why should you buy a tour from a smaller company when there are so many big tour companies in the Netherlands? The obvious answer is only the beginning.
To get it out of the way, however, it is definitely true that large tour companies can have a negative effect on cities. Big companies can often overwhelm protective regulations, which is concerning in a city as old as Amsterdam. We’ve recently had to start a massive rebuilding project on the canal walls, which weren’t built to withstand vibrations from the buses that lumber along them each day. These companies are often based outside of Amsterdam, which means they are removing money from the local economy even as they make the city spend money on public infrastructure.
These multinationals also often work on a business model that’s not great for the guides themselves. For example, when a “free” tour starts with a picture of the group, it usually means that the brand is charging the guide for each guest. The idea is that the guide will get tipped more than enough to pay the company and still make a profit, but that’s not always the case. Other large tour companies take so much of the guest’s fee that the guides themselves work for close to minimum wage, especially if there’s something like off-season or rainy days making the group smaller.
More importantly for visitors, however, a lot of the large companies don’t do much quality control. That means that you might get someone who’s really passionate about introducing people to their city, or you might get someone who’ll make up any story they need to maximize their tips. As we pass these big groups every day, we hear any number of outlandish myths about Amsterdam. (Apparently, the medieval city only faced three disasters…) There’s even a story that one common Amsterdam myth was intentionally started by a large-company guide who got bored.
Indie tour companies often come from a totally different place. Most, though not all, start from some story or aspect of the city they want to share. Badass Tours started from a love of intersectional women’s history. Hungry Birds started from a love of Amsterdam’s food scene. Who Is Amsterdam started from a love of the unique people who make Amsterdam what it is. The list goes on and on.
So, what does that mean for you? It means a better experience. You’ll be shown some aspect of the city by someone who is truly passionate about sharing it. You’ll go off the beaten path, whether physically, culinarily or intellectually. You’ll get to see something original and have a unique experience, one that can’t be replicated somewhere else.
At Badass Tours, our guests often comment that they wish we were in every city that they visit. While we’re definitely dreaming of a world in which the history we cover is given the attention it deserves, we’re actually quite proud of the fact that we’re offering something that only Amsterdam has. We like the idea of making this amazing city just a little bit more unique.
Across the world, however, there are people giving indie tours that are nothing like ours and equally as special. That’s the point. When you buy a big corporate tour, you’re getting a standardized product. When you take an indie tour, you’re setting yourself up for an extraordinary experience. Hopefully, you also meet some cool people along the way.
The women who shaped Amsterdam are more complex than traditional tours would have you believe. Go to historic sites Amsterdam to hear stories of women who fought, wrote, calculated and led through Amsterdam’s chaotic and complicated past.
The world’s first gay marriage was officiated by the Mayor of Amsterdam at its City Hall. But did you know that the city’s LGBTQ+ history stretches centuries? Meet historical Amsterdammers across the gender spectrum and sexual orientations.
This Amsterdam historical tour through the Jewish quarter and residential Plantage neighborhood offers a selection of stories about women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and Jewish Amsterdammers. It’s the perfect way to get an alternative view of Amsterdam.