If you love to travel, you probably have used a tour guide at some point to navigate a destination.
A good tour guide is likely to know all the attractions a city has to offer, including some of those small but really good spots that don’t usually make it into the city’s official tourist publications.
Could you make money by showing visitors around your city?
Traditionally, commercial tour companies have provided this type of service. However, it’s very possible to break into this business yourself and provide private tour services to visitors in your city.
It has become common to use peer-to-peer accommodations and taxi services through websites like Airbnb.com and Uber, respectively. Providing tour services through similar platforms is a logical next step. This business model is quite new. You can be one of the few people in your area, so the competition is minimal.
Typical pay rates are $15-25 per hour. Just a few hours each week is an effective way to boost your income.
There are 2 basic business models you can follow:
1. Go it alone: This requires marketing for clients and developing the necessary infrastructure to run your business. Marketing, communication, and billing are the primary functions that require addressing.
2. Use one or more of the peer-to-peer travel platforms: Recently, many peer-to-peer travel guide platforms have emerged that make the process of finding and servicing clients much easier.
The use of peer-to-peer tour guide platforms will allow your business to be up and running quickly. Fortunately, there are several options. You can try as many of them as possible and see which one gets you the best deals.
Peer-to-Peer Travel Platforms
There are several internet platforms that can make running your business much easier and more effective.
You’re able to accomplish many tasks with a few simple clicks.
These platforms are a great way to advertise your business, communicate with clients, and even perform billing functions.
These platforms can get you started:
Shiroube is a large marketplace that connects travelers with local guides. There are more than 5,000 guides in 3,000 cities.
Shiroube helps travelers find local guides to suit their travel style and purpose in several destinations around the world.
As a local guide signed up with Shiroube, you’re able to offer guide services or provide tips, information, or itineraries.
You can sign up and create your account at Shiroube website, and post your free ad – you can post up to three ads.
Be sure to emphasize your expertise, for example if you are a local history expert, an adventure guide, a surfing partner, know the best ethnic food joint and nightlife in town, etc. Travelers will contact you through Shiroube.
Vayable is another great platform for connecting tourists with local guides, with an emphasis on those who truly want to experience the local culture or immerse themselves in the local community they are visiting.
So if you have a knack for showing off the richness of the culture, art, music, local cuisine, and craft of your community, Vayable is a great platform to partner with.
As they put it on their website, “Vayable’s mission is to become the global platform for real-life experiences. We are enabling locals to use their time and knowledge to earn a living by generating new sources of income, while creating a better world where people can experience richer, more meaningful lives.”
Vayable offers a secure payment portal and takes only a 15% commission.
ToursByLocals.com is another platform that specializes in connecting travelers who prefer private customized tours with local tour guides.
They market their services to those type of travelers who want to see new places in the company of a local expert who can offer more personal attention and the type of unique, local experiences that they won’t find with a large group tour.
ToursByLocals provide you with tools and training, marketing, easy payment administration, and even security in case of last-minute cancellations and “no-show” customers.
Peer-to-peer tour platform is a new concept that has the potential to shake-up the tourism industry in the same way that Uber is doing in the taxi industry. You have the opportunity to get in now.
Some of these platforms are popular in particular areas. Take a look and determine which of them make sense for you. They’re all free to join and advertise, so it makes sense to utilize them all. Using a portal can launch your business almost immediately.
Creating Your Tours
What does your area have to offer? Do you live in wine country? Near ski resorts? Is your city known for its microbreweries? Surfing? Rock climbing?
You could offer horse rides or hay rides on your farm.
Make a list of the interesting activities in your location.
What do you like to do? Many people have hobbies that can be enjoyed almost anywhere. Would you enjoy taking clients on a motorcycle tour? Bicycle tour? Walking tour of the downtown area? Shopping? Pub crawl?
What do your friends like to do? Your friends and family might have a few good ideas, too. Perhaps your sister is an expert on the local wine tasting scene.
Are you a history buff? You can take visitors to the ancient ruins and historical sites, museums and art exhibitions in your city.
Consider focusing on a specific demographic. Senior citizens often have different interests than children or young adults. Who can you serve?
What can you do at different times of the year in your location? Depending on the season, your city might have different activities to offer. Christmas light displays in various neighborhoods, cross-country skiing, or snowmobile tours could be good winter activities. Taking visitors to the secret swimming hole could be your focus in the summer.
There are bound to be local activities that would appeal to your city’s visitors. Take advantage of your city’s offerings and consider your own interests. Become an expert on the most interesting aspects of your area.
Whether your city is known for being the home of a US president or the producer of the largest watermelons in the world, be sure your knowledge is up to speed. The more tours you’re able to offer, the more interest you’ll receive from travelers.
Other Ideas to Find Clients
Finding clients is the lifeblood of any service-based business. Advertising on the peer-to-peer platforms might be enough to keep your business going. But there are other options if you’re willing to do a little work.
- Approach local hotels and bed-and-breakfast. Most visitors to your city will stay at hotels. Visit the hotels in your area and offer to partner with them. The hotel can inform guests of your tour guide services, and you can split the profits with the hotel. The guests are happy, and the hotel and you are both making extra money. That’s a true win-win situation.
- Approach local Airbnb providers. Peer-to-peer lodging is very popular now. Offer a commission for any business they’re able to send your way.
- Start a “things to do in xyz” website. Of course, you’re going to list your tour guide services as one of the options. Be sure to include the major attractions in your area, as it will help to rank your site in the search engines.
Becoming a local tour guide is a great way to put a few extra dollars in your pocket.
If you live in a popular area, it’s possible to generate a healthy, full-time income.
What can you offer visitors to your city that they would never find on their own? What do you like to do? Answer those questions and you’ll be on the fast track to extra income as a local tour guide.