What is a free tour and how does it work?

Hello traveler! Today we will talk about the concept “free walking tour“, what is it exactly and everything you need to know about it. We will also have the testimony of a free tour guide (me), that is, I will also tell you how a free tour works internally: are they local students who want to make some extra money or is there a boss behind managing everything, what is the salary of the guides, do they have an official certification to practice, is all this legal?….

What’s more, if you have any doubts or questions about free walking tours, I invite you to leave me a comment at the end and I’ll be happy to answer you 😉

What really is a free walking tour

First of all, it’s worth clarifying the name, as a lot of terms like “walking tour”, “walking tour”, “free tour”, “free tour”… are used to refer to exactly the same thing! When we hear any of these words from now on, we will know that they refer to the same concept. That said, what is a free walkimg tour?

What is a free walkimg tour?

A free tour is like a guided tour but without a set price, in fact no payment is required to participate. At the end of the walk, it is the tourist who decides how much the service is worth and makes a contribution accordingly. If you are interested in the subject of “tipping”, and how they are managed, I recommend the following article: How much to tip on a free tour?

But isn’t the walking tour supposed to be “free”?

Yes and no…

But free means free!

But it also means “free”, from “freedom”.

The tourist is free to join the tour, even after it has started, without any payment. It is also possible that he/she is not satisfied at all, in which case there is no need to pay anything either. However, it must be taken into account that the guide makes a living out of it, in fact, the guide always has to pay an amount for each tourist he takes in the group (regardless of whether the tourist pays anything or not)… Now I’ll tell you about it:

In the event that the tour is liked, the tourist is free to decide how much to pay for it, being the guide the one who collects the money. In addition and as a general rule, the treatment offered is very close and friendly, as well as didactic; so people are usually happy with the visit, after all, the present and future success of the business depends on it!

But… What is really behind it all, how does a free tour work internally? Let’s reveal the best kept secrets:

How does a free walking tour work?

We come to the juiciest part of the article, to the best kept secret… How does a free walking tour really work? Most people have an idea that is far removed from reality, and no wonder, as there is a lot of misinformation about it.

The image that is projected of the free walkig tours 🙂

It would be great if it really was a group of young people, friends who share the same passion, who decided to organise a walk to show off their beloved city. Using social media and other free platforms to advertise and attract customers to their tours. Sorry to break the story… but this is what a free tour is NOT, although I wish it were.

Moreover, the term “free tour” is only used by some platforms whose aim is to attract as many tourists as possible to their websites, and then “redirect” them in the form of customers to the free tour providers and take a commission for it. I’ll talk about this in more detail later, I understand it might have been a bit confusing.

How a free walking tour really works 🙁

Generally, for better or worse, there is a boss behind controlling everything. The guides must give him a fixed amount of money for each head in the picture, if you have already done a tour try to remember if the guide took a photo of you at some point during the tour (although there are also other methods of control). This amount can vary a lot depending on different factors, however it is usually around 2.5 euros.

Obviously not all of the commission goes to the boss, as he has to pay for advertising and maintenance costs. However, when it comes to large companies above all, I can assure you that this person gets a very succulent remuneration (for his work, which he sometimes delegates to his fake freelance employees). If you want me to talk about my past bad experience, let me know in the comments.

This is how most (but not all) free tours work, but there are brave people out there who refuse to accept the lousy working conditions that are usually imposed on them:

An independent free tour guide

Many guides try to go it alone, and although it is not easy and not all of them succeed, there are ways to do it. To do this you have to resort to platforms where guides can promote their tours in exchange for a commission per booking, they will also be in charge of showing the availability of the tour, manage the bookings, send confirmation emails and reminders to tourists… These platforms are so popular that even many large companies use them!

Yes, the guide is not spared the commission in this case either, but in return they receive a good service and get customers. In addition, this saves them the need to create a website (and/or learn how to do it), spend many hours to position it in Google (although the first positions are always permanently occupied), spend hours on social networks, learn how to run ad campaigns…

Here at https://freetouratenas.top/en/ we have gone through all this process, and if you are reading this (which is still an unknown for us), it means that we have succeeded. 🙂

Legality of the free walking tours

The legality of free tours is as controversial as it is mysterious, and the criticisms received by this guild are many. Let’s start with the issue of the licence to work as a guide:

This really depends not only on the country in question, but also on the autonomous community/region and its respective legislation. So there is everything from places where you need to have a degree or degree related to the sector and then take an exam to obtain a certificate, to places where anyone can go out on the street and do a free tour.

It should be borne in mind that the concept of “free tour” is very new, in many cases the law does not contemplate the figure of “free tour guide” and it is not even regulated. Moreover, the guide could well be a local person, who shares his or her knowledge and experience with tourists so that they have a better experience on their trip. Or perhaps the “guide” is a heritage interpreter, which is fiscally different from the “official” guide who does normal tours.

As for taxes, I’m sorry to tell you that there is also a bit of everything: limited companies with liability insurance and employees registered with the social security, false self-employed (being the most common), people who do not need any license…

And the “tips”?

This brings us to the crux of the matter… If they are counted as donations, and they do not reach the legal minimum, they do not need to be declared. If, on the other hand, they are treated as a payment, things change. Only time will tell what will happen with this issue… But don’t worry! I guarantee you that no one can evade taxes completely, since the platform-supplier transactions are accompanied by their respective invoices.

Ask now whatever you want!

For my part I have nothing more to add, thank you very much dear reader for taking the time to talk to me. I want to compensate you by answering sincerely any question you ask me in the comments, take advantage of it!

Did you like this article, have you already participated in a free tour?   Tell us about your experience. 🙂 Have you ever been on a free tour?

Best regards!

Now, if you have entered this article to know how a free tour works WHEN YOU PARTICIPATE IN IT; first, I’m sorry for all the “chapa” that I have put you (I hope that at least you found it interesting), second, here is the answer:

How does a free tour work?

Total Time: 2 hours

Make the reservation.

It is always advisable to make a reservation, this way the provider will have your details and will contact you if anything comes up. In addition, this way you will be assured of your place in case there are a lot of people.

Arrival of the tour date.

It is recommended to be at the meeting point 10 minutes before the agreed time to avoid possible delays. Generally it is not necessary to bring the printed confirmation, as the guide will have the list with the names of the travelers who have booked.

The “tip”

This is important since a free walking tour is financed by donations made at the end of the tour. As in any other business, in addition to the guide’s own remuneration, there are other management and marketing expenses and, most likely, commissions to third parties that promote this service.

Estimated Cost: -3 USD

What is a free tour?

In short, a free walking tour is a new and innovative way to discover the place you are traveling to, an escape from the typical tourist circuits and behaviors.
We sincerely believe that a free tour is the ultimate option to get to know a city; learn the historical context and the importance of its monuments, immerse yourself in the local culture, discover dozens of curiosities, go where no tourist goes, have the opportunity to clear all your doubts and receive the best travel tips from a local person.

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