Whereas they were only available in a few cities until recently, free walking tours are now spreading rapidly across all continents and cities where there is tourism. Its modality of "pay-what-you-want" at the end of the tour is now extending to new experiences, far from the typical guided tour. To understand this success, we will look at the reasons that make offering "free experiences" so popular and profitable.
- 1. A large market that is constantly growing
- 2. Free to join = power of attraction
- 3. An entertaining experience
- Myths about free walking tours
- Evolution of 'pay-what-you-want' experiences
- Be a guru on GuruWalk
1. A large market that is constantly growing
The democratization of travel has seen a new demand grow for free walking tours by people who do not usually consider booking a guided tour.
That’s why many tour guides combine free walking tours with other paid-in-advance excursions that have separate costs (food, transport, …) and in this way they are able to cover more parts of the tourist market.
2. Free to join = power of attraction
On a free walking tour/experience, anyone is free to join without paying anything in advance and gives what seems right at the end. This is very appealing and allows you to attract large groups of people, who usually pay the same as for a traditional experience. That’s why it’s so profitable to work withi this modality of "pay-what-you-want".
In addition, many tour leaders are able to harness this power of attraction and the quality of their "pay-what-you-want" experience to have a privileged contact with travelers and then get them involved in their other paid excursions.
3. An entertaining experience
Taking this kind of experience is a guarantee for an entertaining moment and it’s one of the main reasons for its success. Since nothing has to be paid in advance, gurus need to strive to create an interesting and fun experience in order to ensure a good payment.
Myths about free walking tours:
- Free walking tours are free of charge. The word “free” can be understood as “free of charge”, but in this context it must be considered in the sense of “freedom”: freedom for participants to pay what they please. At GuruWalk, we never advertise experiences as “free of charge” and we explain that they require a decent payment like any job.
- Guides receive tips or donations. Even if there are still many advertising it this way, we don’t do it at GuruWalk. It seems to us that it under-values the professional work of the guru. A 'pay-what-you-want' experience is like any other job, so instead of using “tips” or “donations”, providers should rather talk about “payment”.
- The free walking tour guides are amateurs. On a free walking tour, the participant pays at the end, so if the guide is bad, he or she will only receive little money and will surely not continue doing this kind of experience. In addition, at GuruWalk, we take into account all the reviews left by participants and always support gurus to improve their experiences.
- Free walking tour guides evade taxes. Free walking tour guides have to comply with local regulations, both with the legal permissions and taxes. They declare what they earn and pay the corresponding taxes.
Evolution of 'pay-what-you-want' experiences
A few years ago, free walking tours were focused only as a first approach to the city in a couple of hours. Nowadays, the concept is evolving with an ever-widening offer of available languages and topics: food tours, street art tours, by bicycle, … with experiences far from the typical guided tour, which results in a very complete option for participants.
Be a guru on GuruWalk
If, like us, you believe that working offering a "pay-what-you-want" experience is the future of our sector, join our community of more than 2000 tour gurus around the world. You can find more information from us here.