While we all pride ourselves in getting away from the tourist clichés, as a tour operator I'm also excited about maximizing the classic experiences -- even if they are touristy. And in Venice, one of those is a glassblowing demonstration.
Any tour group is welcome to climb the stairs from St. Mark's Square to watch a mesmerizing demonstration, which is always followed by an entertaining 10-minute sales pitch in the showroom. As many guides live for the sales kickbacks to supplement their income, most tour companies really push this and similar shopping experiences (like diamond polishing in Amsterdam). But our tours accept no kickbacks for the shopping our tour members do, and anyone buying anything here gets the standard 20 percent guides' kickback discounted off their sales price. That way, as we explain to our groups, you're only paying double what you should be... rather than triple.