Should you explain how free walking tours work? If yes, in which way? When starting the tour or at the end? When and how is it okay to suggest a high payment? Etc. As you see, there are lots of questions around the payment on a free walking tour and it’s actually a big debate among gurus.  

In this post, you’ll figure out why and when it’s important to make the concept clear to your walkers. And the most interesting: many different ways to share it properly!Because no one likes to talk about money while on holiday.

Free Walking Tour guide explaining something to a group of tourist in the Corredera Square in Cordoba, Andalusia.

Should you explain about the payment to travelers?

Yes and no. It mostly depends on:

  1. Your style and personality;
  2. If travelers booked your tour on GuruWalk;
  3. The people you have on your tour.

1. Your style and personality

Most gurus explain it just to make sure there is no confusion among travelers, especially if they have never done guruwalks before. But if you don’t feel comfortable enough, don’t speak about it because travelers could feel you’re not at your ease.   

2. If travelers booked your tour on GuruWalk

If travelers booked your tour on GuruWalk, chances are they already know about the payment-system. Indeed, they can see the following box in every city and tour page of the platform.

Tipping text on what's the price of the guided tour of GuruWalk.

Furthermore, in the booking email, we remind them about it as you can see here.

Sentence from the automatic booking email remembering the tipping system of GuruWalk.
Most travelers already prepared the money they are going to give before the tour. But it can always be more, or less, according to the experience you’ll provide.

But anyway, it’s always possible to have a traveler who doesn’t know about the payment-system. It could be because someone else booked the tour or because he/she saw your ‘Join this tour for free’ flag. That’s why we recommend to mention it.

3. The people you have on your tour.

As said before, talking about money impacts the experience of the travelers. So if you have a group of travelers from a tipping-culture, such as USA, Canada… you can maybe skip this part.

But if you feel you have travelers who might not be used to assess the relevant price of your tour, such as young people, travelers from Europe etc, it’s better to explain it.

Free walking tour guide in Prague explaining something to a group of travelers.

When should you explain the payment system?

Most gurus make it clear when starting the tour or by reminding it at the end of the tour.

If you have to choose one of these options, we recommend you to do it when starting the tour. I personally do it twice, when starting and finishing the tour. Again, to make sure there is no confusion among the travelers.

Some gurus explain it by private message to travelers, when confirming the tour or in the reminder message the day before. This way they can skip this part during the tour. But I believe that it’s not the right way to do it, as it will look you put too much emphasis on it, resulting in an awkward feeling for the traveler.

How to properly suggest travelers to pay you well?

There many ways to share it. But there are some golden rules you should respect:

  • Always keep it short. As written before, most travelers know about it. So if you make it long, it could create a strange feeling.
  • Practice. When talking about it, travelers should understand you perfectly and see that you are confident, not nervous or hesitating. That’s why practice is crucial.
  • Try. Maybe one way to explain it works great with young people. Maybe another works better according to your style. Try different ones and find the ones that suit you and your travelers well.

The following ones are all good ways to share the payment-system to your travelers, according to your style.

1. The professional

This technique focuses on the organization, work, study and training of the tour that most travelers don’t even think about. So it’s great to remind them. If you choose this way, it should also appear when introducing yourself.

“Hello everyone, my name is X and I’m so glad I’ll be your guide for today! I’ve always been in love with my city, getting to know every detail of it, and I fulfilled my dream, working hard, by becoming an official guide and making my passion a job.”

  • Focus on the job: “This tour doesn’t have a fixed price. So, you’re the ones who decide, once the tour is over, to give what you consider appropriate. We didn’t receive any kind of subsidies for the creation, organization or study of such tour, so your support is very important for us to make a living out of it.”
  • Emphasis on the experience: This tour doesn’t have a fixed price. So if you think you really had a great time, that you learned a lot, feel free to give what you consider appropriate. It could be 5 euros, 50 euros, whatever you think the tour is worth.”
A guide explaining something in a street of Cordoba, Spain, during a free walking tour with GuruWalk.

2. The funny guide

In this way, you focus on a funny way to say it, to make people laugh out of it and avoid the awkward money situation.  

  • Exaggerating: “Who already had a free walking tour before? Well, just to make sure, this tour doesn’t have a fixed price and you can give what you want at the end of the tour… gold, cars, your wife, and money. I’m not difficult.” 
  • Cute: “I guess most of you already know how a free walking tour like this one works. You’re free to give what you want at the end of the tour. It could be hugs, money,… as you wish. (That’s the technique I use and most travelers give me both, money and a hug!)”
  • Using a metaphor: You see, my tour is like a pizza. You can decide to give 5 euros if you had a frozen and boring one from the supermarket. But you can also choose fresh, homemade pizza with quality ingredients. I baked this delicious tour with love and it’s ready to be eaten! So I hope you’ll appreciate how delicious it is and that you’ll be craving to it eat entirely!” (You can use it with a famous food or drink of your city/country).
  • Threatening: “As you know, this tour doesn’t have a fixed price. So you’re free to give what you want at the end of the tour. But you can also choose to give nothing. But if you do that, I’ll be sad, and my mom always makes sure that I’m not sad for a long time. So If I were you, for your own protection, I recommend you not to do that.” (Of course, you should do it on an ironic tone and smiling).  
Guide speaking to a group of travelers during a free walking tour in Barcelona, Spain.

What you shouldn’t do

Forget about suggesting a price

Travelers know they’re free to give what they want, but by suggesting an exaggerate minimum price (“a very low payment would be 15 euros”) or payment range (“People usually give me between 15 and 30 euros”). Travelers will feel very uncomfortable during all tour, resulting in less money received.

As a rule, it’s better not to suggest a price. Because low-budget travelers will feel uncomfortable and high-budget travelers will give you less than they thought the tour was worth. The only exception would be if someone is confused and asks you directly.

Don’t make people feel guilty

You could be a poor guide with lots of financial or personal problems, but you can’t use it to ask for more money to travelers. Travelers are on holiday and expect to have a professional friend to show them around, not someone asking for charity. It’s only going to create a very bad and awkward situation, which impacts negatively on the money you receive.

Don’t put too much emphasis on money

The moment of talking about money is sometimes awkward for travelers. So make it the shortest possible. If you do so, travelers will understand you had to explain it to make it clear, but that you don’t put too much emphasis on it, which is good for the global experience.  

Better not to use “coins”

Sometimes, travelers don’t know how much to pay. If you say that people can leave you some coins, they will think in a lower payment, than if you don’t say or say they could give you a note.  

Wallet full of coins in euros.

When and how is it okay to suggest a high price?

When you have 1 or 2 travelers on your tour, you never know if it’s worth doing the tour. In most cases, it’s not. That’s why most gurus invite travelers to join another tour, which could be one of theirs or one of another guru. But what to do if this option is not possible?

It would be easy to cancel, but one of our gurus found a very creative way to make the tour happening, at least in some cases. Once she received the booking, she sends the following message:

Hi, thanks for booking the tour with me. I am sorry to write this but maybe I will have to cancel this tour because no one else booked it for tomorrow and the rest of this week. It’s offseason and there are not many tourists in X. Besides, I live away from the city and have some fuel/parking costs, that’s why I can’t do tours if I receive less than 20 EUR. Since you are the only one for tomorrow’s tour, this might be expensive for you, that’s why I suggested canceling the tour. Please let me know your opinion. Best regards, X

A nice way to make clear the payment-system, right? Watch out, she doesn’t say the tour has a fixed price of 20 euros, which is forbidden on GuruWalk, but says she can’t do it if she receives less than 20 euros. If the traveler accepts, the guru can be 99% sure that he/she will receive at least 20 euros, and maybe more! This case of suggesting a price is, of course, an exception, but it is still a good alternative instead of canceling it.

And what about you? How do you explain the payment-system of GuruWalk? What do you think you could use? Thanks for your comments!