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Press Release – May 9th, 2018

Advertising Standards Authority ruling – United Kingdom


May 9th, 2018

Today, the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a query with regards to a Google ad placed by SANDEMANs NEW Europe in July 2017.

The ad did not state that the Free Tour SANDEMANs promotes is tips-based. We at SANDEMANs believe this statement was not necessary, as ruling 3.3 of the CAP code states that, when restricted for space, information pertinent to the consumer must be made available by other means; in this case, on the landing page the ad clicked through to. Nevertheless, we immediately complied with this query, and since then have included the term “tips-based” in all Google ads related to our UK operations.

Further, after regular dialogue with the ASA, we reordered the information on the landing page from the ad in question to make it even clearer that guides working with SANDEMANs pay the company to market their services even more prominent. These changes were to the satisfaction of the ASA and have stayed in the same form since November.

While we undertook all necessary steps in the hope of resolving this query informally, unfortunately the ASA decided to make a formal ruling.

The ASA also challenged the term “tip”, preferring instead something along the lines of “discretionary payment”. We are disappointed with this and will be seeking a review for this part of the ruling.

In our opinion, “tip” is completely adequate for the voluntary exchange of money between satisfied guests and the freelance guides we work with.

Nevertheless, we have – again since November – offered another solution to the term “tip” on our website marketing our UK services.

We regret that, after 15 years of promoting free tours to millions of satisfied guests, none of whom (to the best of the company’s knowledge) have complained about any misunderstanding arising from the word “tip”, or the tips-based nature of the Free Tour, this unfortunate situation has only arisen following a complaint from one of our competitors.

We at SANDEMANs welcome the ASA’s investigation into the promotion of Free Tours and have always believed in complete transparency regarding the gratuity-based nature of the free tour model.  This information has always been clear in all online and offline marketing of ours. We hope that this process, once firmly clarified, will help to create a clear framework for the thousands of companies offering free tours worldwide.


For further information please contact:
Stephanie Taylor-Carrillo
Partner Relations and Communications Director

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