Many gurus on the platform are taking their first steps in the world of free walking tours. It can be difficult to create a guruwalk if no one has ever taught you or if you have no experience in the tourism sector.
They all ask us how they can create a great experience for their travelers. Creating alone a successful and complete guruwalk from scratch is indeed far to be easy.
But we have good news.
Let us help you to become the best gurus and to create a guruwalk that will amazed your travelers with the next tips of this post!
Table of contents
- Create your guruwalk by choosing a topic;
- Creating content;
- Planning the route of your free walking tour;
- Control the timing;
- Look at the competition;
- How to practice your free walking tour?;
- Tips to entertain your audience;
- Common mistakes;
- Original ideas for free walking tours;
- The GuruWalk Community;
1. Create your guruwalk by choosing a topic
Based on the fact that we all know what is a free walking tour (if not please check it before), we know that these tours are usually in cities center as the traveler is looking to know the city and its history.
In addition, these tours generally cover small areas where you can walk while explaining cities’ most important monuments, streets, squares, …
But do they all have to be about the history of the city center?
No, there are thousands of topics that can be chosen and what travelers want the most nowadays is an experience. They also want to know about places that are not considered as touristic they can only know if they have a local friend or acquaintance in that city.
We recommend you to be “that” friend.
To choose the topic of your guruwalk, you should think about what you know more than anyone else. It could also be about places you know very well and you would love to show to travelers.
Gurus decided to create a guruwalk based on street art, another on parks, on the best bars, hidden places and stories, famous people or neighborhoods like the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona or Chinatown… There is a million of ideas that can be very appealing to someone who does not know your city.
Top Tip: It’s very important to spend time choosing the right topic, especially a subject that you like very much. The more you like it, the more passion you will put in your guruwalk and the better will be your speech and then the experience.
2. Creating the content of your guruwalk
After choosing the topic of your guruwalk, the most important thing is the information research to create the content of your free walking tour.
You should try to have all the content possible available, and if possible, to create a narrative story with the collected information to entertain the traveler.
Travelers will always ask you many questions during the guruwalk, more that what you will explain, so the content is very important and you have to know it by heart.
You can perform general searches on Google on a neighborhood or on the center of the city, and then specific searches on monuments. Finding curiosities, legends and anecdotes is vital to entertain your travelers.
Make sure the information is true as you know you can find everything on the web. Always check the information on different tools.
Top Tip: It’s judicious to get in touch with the tourism agency of your city. More than giving correct and precise information, you will find information about other tours that can give you inspiration to create a guruwalk.
3. Planning the route of your free walking tour
The route or path also has to be programmed with great attention. It’s necessary to take into account the places to visit and where you are going to stop to explain to travelers the information found previously.
Free walking tours are intended to be realized in small areas where we can walk from one place to another easily and quickly.
This is why it is usually done in cities center, although you know now that it doesn’t have to be this way if you planned it differently, right?
To map distances (especially to know the shortest path), and the time between different places of interest, you can use Google Maps.
Thanks to Google Maps, you can measure the distance between two points as shown in the image below.
In this example we will go from the Central Market of Valencia to La Plaza de la Reina. Now we will teach you how to use this tool so you can measure distances for your guruwalk.
As you can see the transport option chosen is “walking” which is identified with the small person walking. To select the point where your route will start, simply do a right-click on the starting point and select “Directions from here”.
We then go to the point where we want to finish or make a stop, in our case the Plaza de la Reina, as shown in the picture. We click the right button again and choose the option “Directions to here”.
Google will create one or several routes between the two points giving information on how much time you need, how much distance there is between the two points and the shortest path.
This way you can see the places and the distances between them to realize a good planning of the guruwalk.
It is very important to have all the stops planned. You can do it on the same Google Maps.
Each point is a stop where you will explain something. We recommend the explanation to last around 10 minutes. But anyway it can always be longer or shorter depending on the topic of the stop.
Keep in mind that some stops should be:
- comfortable to seat, especially at the end, as free walking tours usually last about 2 hours or 2 and a half hours and travelers are usually tired.
- In covered places in case of rain.
And we don’t want tired or wet travelers, we want them excited to give you more money!
Top Tip: At one of the stops you can make some kind of game with the place. Remember the more you entertain your audience, the more money you will receive.
4. Control the timing
Respecting the timing is fundamental in a free walking tour, and having it under control is part of your work as a guru. If you make it very short travelers will give you few tips and if you make it very long, they will get tired and end up getting bored.
So, how long should my free walking tour last?
The best guruwalks last approximately 2 hours or 2 hours and a half.
During this time travelers are still paying attention to what the guru is telling them without being too tired.
The initial stop where the guruwalk starts is usually the longest as you may wait for travelers that are late in order to incorporate them in your free walking tour.
Prepare a starting speech introducing what is a free walking tour, how is your guruwalk and what is going to be seen, the duration,…
It is important to know that each tour you will do is going to have a different duration although it will always be the same tour. It may be because of the traffic, a person who is late, someone who has to go to the bathroom, or you are simply with travelers that are very slow walkers.
So you will always have to check the time, maybe skip some stops if the tour goes too slowly or add more things if it goes too fast. That’s why we recommend you to prepare a tour a little bit longer, just in case you have to tell additional things.
Top Tip: Once you have the content and the route planned, you should go out to do the tour yourself and checking time in real time condition.
5. Look at the competition to create your guruwalk
One of the best tips we can give you is to analyze your competition. They will provide you a lot of additional information.
Free walking tours grow at a very fast rhythm around the world. In almost every touristic city in the world there are free walking tours agencies. This is really good for you. Just book a free walking tour and learn by seeing how they do it.
Write jokes and additional interesting information you’ll learn during the tour. Study the guide (his/her way to talk and move, funny comments the guide says?, etc …).
To find this kind of agencies, you only have to do a Google search. The first ones to appear will be the best. For example, if we perform a search in Havana, using “free walking tours Havana”, here are the results:
As you can see the first one to appear is “Free Walking Tour Havana”, a local agency with years of experience. You could book a free walking tour here.
Then we appear, GuruWalk, with lots of gurus like you in Havana. Then there is another agency called “Strawberry Tours” where you could also book.
Top Tip: On GuruWalk we have several guruwalks for each city, so before a Google search, we recommend you to look in the community. You can book another guru, see how it does and learn from it.
6. How to practice your free walking tour?
Like everything, the practice will make you a better guru and avoid small mistakes. So before starting your guruwalk with real travelers, you have to make the first tests.
You are almost ready for action!
The best way is to practice your free walking tour with family and friends as you will be more confident with them to start. You will also get good reviews and feedbacks from people around you.
You have to ask them to be critical with you. This is the only way for you to learn from your mistakes and to keep improving.
The best gurus tell us that the practice has to be carried out as many times as you need to feel confident. Keep in mind that the better you are able to communicate with travelers, the more they will like your guruwalk and therefore, the better tips you will receive.
In order to practice, you should write a script and memorize all the information. In the end, you will have to do it without the script, thus make sure that you know the content perfectly.
When you know it by heart, without script and fluid and after some practices in real condition, it’s time to go for the first customers.
Top Tip: Try to have someone to film you while you’re doing your guruwalk as a test. This way, you can discover how you move, how you explain things, if you turn your back on your audience and improve all these details.
7. Tips to entertain your audience
The best gurus use both humor and stories to captivate their audience.
If you have ever taken a conventional guided tour, many gurus are doing these tours as if they were reading a history book.
They give too many historical dates, and explain places and monuments in a boring way.
This is what you must not do!
Of course you should give date and historical fact to travelers but not too much as travelers are looking for an experience, not much a history class.
What you have to do to entertain your audience:
- Questions to travelers:
When you are going to talk about a topic, it is important for the traveler to participate and be active. These questions can be riddles or also things to look for in a square or a building for example.
It could also be something like recognizing the famous personages of your country or city with printed photographs you will bring with you. There are multiple options to entertain your audience.
- Tell anecdotes and legends:
Tell anecdotes that happened while doing tours with other travelers, especially if they are fun. Travelers will feel closer to the guru which may result to more money too.
Moreover, legends always generate interest and are a way for the traveler to remember the most iconic places of your guruwalk.
- Your way to tell things:
Look for fun ways to tell things. It may not look easy at first but it can be found for all the topics, believe me. Always try to be smiling and to be in a good mood.
- Do tests:
Test your jokes, ways to talk, anecdotes or questions and you’ll know which ones are the good or bad ones depending on travelers’ reactions. Imagine you prepare a joke that was not very successful, you can eliminate it and in this way you will create a guruwalk that will amazed your travelers.
When you create your guruwalk, you have to think well about all this during the first stage.
Top Tip: Use some legends or curiosities at the beginning of the guruwalk to catch the attention of your travelers. Put a question like, “Do you know why the Berlin wall was actually built? I’ll tell you at the end of the guruwalk.” This way you keep your travelers focused and interested.
8. Common mistakes
Don’t worry it happened to all of us.
We have created a list of common mistakes that many guides make when starting in this world of free walking tours, so you can avoid them:
- Turn your back on travelers:
That can happen when you are explaining something. Keep in mind that if you turn your back on them, they will not listen well to you, lose attention and possibly think you don’t look too involved.
- Don’t take time for photos:
Sometimes it’s good to give a 5 minutes photo time in a very famous place. You always have to say it before explaining the place otherwise you will lose travelers’ attention.
Try to recommend good angles to make great pictures. It will make you empathize with them and know that you are a guru who cares about them.
- Do not talk to travelers:
When going from one stop to another, many guides walks ahead the group without listening to anyone until they reach the next stop.
Don’t do it!
Use these walking moments as they are the perfect opportunity to get closer to your travelers.
Ask them if they like the city, when they arrived, … empathize with them and you will receive more money.
- Using complicated words:
Technicalities are not good to use during guruwalks.
As a guru, everyone knows that you have a lot of knowledge about your guruwalk. But you have to adapt the vocabulary to all kinds of audience.
We recommend you to make it simple, so that everyone can understand you. It’s better to speak for all than for a few, right?
- Being too funny:
It can tire your customers and this is bad for your tips. So use jokes wisely and make too many.
- Abuse of historical dates:
It can get too boring.
It is better to use some key dates that position travelers in the context of history and that will make understand and remember your story better.
Some gurus don’t explain any dates but rather tell the story by saying for instance “during Roman times…”. In this way, you already place the traveler in context without having to give the exact date.
- Do not look at the weather forecast:
Is it going to rain today? It may change the way you will dress and where you are going to make stops.
- Do not drink water:
Think about it. You’ll talk almost non-stop during 2 hours or more. Your throat can end very dry.
We recommend to always bring a bottle of water with you!
- Do not take photos:
You always have to take a picture with travelers.
Choose a famous photo place during your guruwalk, although it can change. This picture can be used as a souvenir for travelers and you can also use it to improve your tour page on GuruWalk.
- Do not have a map to give:
At the end of your tour, travelers will ask you what to do next. Sometimes they don’t have a map, so if you can offer one with some indications about the things to do, you will look very professional and receive better tips.
Also try to give them recommendations for good and cheap restaurants, areas to go out during the night, etc …
- Do not start and finish the guruwalk reminding the traveler about the money:
This is a very common mistake. Many travelers know how a free walking tour works, but it should be made clear that it is not free of charge but rather based on a tip they will give according to their experience.
It will avoid all confusion.
Speaking about money is never easy, so always try to introduce it in a funny way.
9. Original ideas for your guruwalk
Lots of gurus decided to think out of the box to create their guruwalk. We selected some of them to give you some inspiration to create your guruwalk.
This free walking tour tells the darkest side of Krakow’s history. You will hear about the most famous assassins like the Lady Black and about horrible tortures that were used there in the medieval time. They decided to create a guruwalk for terror lovers and it’s very successful.
Colombian gurus made the choice to create a guruwalk to tell the true story of Pablo Escobar. According to them, the Netflix series Narcos glorifies him so they wanted to show the true side of one of the greatest drug traffickers in history. The success of this guruwalk has come out in all the news as it is something of great interest. You can maybe do the same thing with a famous person from your city, right?
It’s a very original free walking tour based on the alternative history of the city. This kind of visits also attract many travelers that want to see more authentic or less touristy places. This kind of tours propose something different off the beaten track of the city.
This free walking tour shows the whole Bulgarian culinary culture to travelers thanks to three restaurants where you can try dishes while the guru explains ingredients, how to cook and many more things. It is a very interesting tour that does not leave anyone indifferent.
10. The GuruWalk Community
Are you an experienced guru wishing to help other new gurus? Or on the contrary are you an amateur guru and want to learn more? Then join our Guide Community on Facebook!
In this group we will share all our knowledge, questions,… And you will be able to interact with each other to make the world of free walking tours bigger and better.
We will also publish quality content to make your free walking tour better.
We hope this post helped you to create great experiences for your travelers.
Any questions you can contact us through the platform.
See you soon on GuruWalk!
The GuruWalk Team