If you decide to be a tour guide, we can tell you it is a great side hustle idea and one that many people don’t realize they can do. Moreover, it can be done as an ongoing gig or for a tour company to adopt it as a full-time job.
Focusing on it as the side hustle we are covering; it can be quite profitable due to the hours you can invest and how much you can charge for each one.
Also, it doesn’t really require talent but rather some knowledge about places to visit and knowing a bit more about history, not to be just a simple person who walks others to the locations.
It involves more than you think, but it can be easier than most people picture it as well.
This is why we want to tell you again: It is a good idea; you just need to learn how to make it a reality and not a simple dream. Also, there are many ways in how you can approach this side hustle.
Here, we will help you by sharing the basics and essentials and lend you a hand in becoming a tour guide for that extra cash you need.
What Is a Tour Guide?
Tourist (or often referred to as tour, to make it short) guides are part of the hospitality and tourism industry.
They guide visitors around tourist attractions, and they can work with either individuals or groups through historic sites, museums, geographical destinations, and outdoor excursions.
Tour guides are usually knowledgeable about the history, culture, and practical aspects of tourism. Companies and organizations often hire them to offer a memorable experience for their guests.
In addition to culture and the previous aspects, knowing about recreation activities is a great plus since they are able to offer a better service to the people they are guiding.
So, basically, you have a person who will take you wherever you want or guide you to new places by giving you some “classes” about where you are and what you can do.
What Does a Tour Guide Do? – Responsibilities
There are many services that tour guides offer. The responsibilities of each type of guide will vary based on this.
Most of the time, tour guides can be responsible for entertaining and answering questions and sharing pertinent information with their guests.
As a guide, here are some of the common duties and responsibilities that you might expect to see at work, and you will need to be comfortable with if you consider this as your side hustle:
- They learn and teach.
Tour guides usually have a lot of knowledge about a particular destination, time period, or activity.
Although a guide might have an interest in the topic, their employer may require them to complete formal tour guide training to gather the information that could benefit tourists.
This means you will need to learn as much as you can to be able to provide detailed information to your tourists later on.
- Welcoming and greeting guests.
No matter how long the tour is, guides always try to make connections with their guests.
The introduction usually involves greeting everyone and announcing that the tour is about to begin. This is why you must know how to greet everyone properly and ensure they are having a pleasant time in the process.
- Providing safety information.
Guides may wish to briefly inform guests about any conditions or procedures that they have in case of emergency.
- Providing materials.
Some tours include learning materials such as maps, brochures, and audio recordings.
Others might require uniforms or specialized gear. Guides make sure everyone has the right supplies and can also take care of equipment maintenance.
- Attending to guests’ needs.
Guides may be responsible for their guests’ comfort and well-being throughout the tour.
This could include making accommodations, attending to emergencies, and answering guests’ questions. In case of taking the role, you might also need to disclose information about pricing, trip length, and frequency.
- Leading tourists on tours.
This is a significant responsibility for guides. You may need to plan the route ahead of time and share interesting facts about the places they visit with their guests.
Although not always required, knowing the local language can prove helpful for guides who work in foreign countries.
Guides may need to be bilingual in order to communicate with customers, exchange written communications, and interact with locals.
Guides are required to book tickets, make reservations, and work within a time limit. They should plan their excursions well in advance to avoid any problems or special accommodations.
What Does It Take to Be a Tour Guide?
Or more like, do you need any talent? Being a tour guide can be quite difficult if you consider everything you need to learn.
From the places where you will take the tourists to every detail about their history and activities. In addition, if you work with an agency, you will need to follow their rules and standards.
On the other hand, it can be a good idea to consider this side hustle and work around it independently. However, this can take you more time to find clients who are willing to trust you.
After all, having a tour guide needs to be someone you can trust, right?
Next, we can come up with some requirements you will face most of the time, although they can vary (again) depending on how you approach this money-maker opportunity.
A minimum of a high-school diploma or an equivalent certificate is required for potential tour guides. While requirements vary from company to company, a bachelor’s degree is often needed for the touring field.
For example, museum tour guides usually have a history degree, while eco-tour guides are often educated in conservation and environmental education. Employers provide training on the job that includes safety.
Tour guides should be specialists in their chosen area, and yes, you will need to choose a niche to avoid going over things too generally.
Guides should be able to answer specific questions about the area, its history, amenities, artifacts, and other details. A successful career in this industry requires excellent communication skills.
In addition, it is required to be punctual and ethical. They must have excellent time management skills and be able to research relevant information thoroughly. While not essential, it is an advantage for many tour guides to be able to speak multiple languages.
If we had to mention a couple more we would add, these are definitely on the list:
- Have a lot of energy.
- Be flexible in terms of how you can deal with any unexpected event or come up with new ideas in no time.
- Customer service mindset.
- Problem-solver. Make sure this is what you want (although it isn’t a requirement in specific).
- After all, you will need to consider this as a lifestyle if you go for more than a side hustle later on.
As you can see, it doesn’t require specific talent since you can learn everything required to be a tour guide. Does it take time and effort? For sure, but the payment will be rewarding.
Costs & Finances: How Much to Invest & Earn
When it comes to numbers, there are many variations as well.
It isn’t expensive to start as a tour guide unless you are aiming for a niche and tours that will require equipment for your tourists and clients.
For instance, if you are going to explore mountains and places like Macchu Picchu, the guide often provides equipment. Thus, this means you must invest in them for your clients.
However, if you decide to take the side hustle by working with an agency, you won’t have to invest in any equipment and logistics. Only keep your other responsibilities in mind.
We would recommend going for an agency if you want to explore niches that involve using equipment and other objects. However, it can be great to bet for an independent approach if you are tour-guiding places that are just simple walks and don’t take anything else but yourself and the tourists.
But based on this and the variations depending on what you choose, how much can you earn?
Most tour guides are paid per hour or based on a specific tour per client.
Also, earnings vary depending on the country. Most of them earn about $12 per hour in the USA, and tours per client start at $20 and can go up to $200+ depending on the tour available. In New York City, most people earn about $19 per hour.
If we go to other countries that tend to be a bit more touristic in terms of natural places and amazing history (like Iceland or maybe the Philippines), you can easily earn $55 per hour.
Everything depends on your location and, again, in your niche.
Tour guides that make the most profit are those in natural adventures that involve places out of the city or are a bit more dangerous to explore without the right precautions and equipment.
As a side hustle, you can easily earn $15 per hour but keep in mind this: You don’t usually guide just one or two tourists.
Most tour guides take several people at once or increase their rates when someone ones a unique and solo experience.
For example, you can set the cost per hour at $15, but this is for your group, and each person would pay the same (supposing they are all strangers).
If the group is a bunch of friends, you can set a fee based on the number of people and charge per person regardless of how long the tour lasts.
The final option we would recommend is to set a higher yet affordable price for solo tours that won’t make you lose money compared to the previous options and explain why you are charging that amount.
Going Digital: 3 Apps & Platforms to Be a Tour Guide
If you decide to go for the tour business or agency option, we recommend extensive research of which ones are the best in your location.
It is hard to recommend any in our position, but agencies are usually looking for new people. You just need to learn a bit more about them before deciding to apply for the offer.
But what about betting for the independent option? It will take more work in terms of organizing the tour yourself, but it can work better when it is a side hustle.
In that case, you can post your tours on these apps and platforms to make sure they are seen, and tourists can choose you for the experience:
It has over 150 million visitors each month, and the number of cities and countries available is insane. You can post your tour, and rest assured it will be considered by many.
When you register for the site, you will need to go over the Destination Managers that review your listing and will approve it depending on how you meet the conditions of the website.
You can also request assistance from them and ask all your questions about how the platform works. However, what is essential is that you need to pay a commission for each tour booked (as expected).
It has grown in popularity following the big success of renting properties and spaces to people during their trips or stays.
Fortunately, the platform opened a new option for any tour leader or guide to make money and do it safely.
You don’t need much to get started, but only sign up as a tour guide and set your experience for the clients. However, keep in mind Airbnb standards and conditions. Not meeting them is naturally a “no” for your listing.
In addition, Airbnb will charge a 20% for service fee every time a tour is booked.
Although the previous options allow you to list tours that are per hour or fixed price, this one is more about hourly rates.
ShowAround is based on allowing tourists to book local tours by the hour. This is often used by people who don’t know where to go or want a short yet informative and amazing experience in a specific place.
It can bring many clients if you are someone without much equipment or only knowledge to show people specific places. It won’t make you as much money as going for a full experience, but you can charge handsomely the more you gain a reputation on the web.
What Will You Do?
Do we recommend being a tour guide? Absolutely.
The experience can be satisfying for both the tourist and you, so it is one of our favorite side hustles we will ever review.
However, it takes time and hard work to become a proper tour guide and not only someone who randomly shows places (which is what most people believe).
Therefore, if you will be up for the challenge, take the time to study, learn properly about the places where you want to take tourists, and make sure to choose a niche, like a cuisine, exploration, historic places, and other options available.
If you don’t have a budget, start with common and popular areas that don’t need more than just telling the history and details, like being a museum guide.
If you have the budget, make sure to go for more ambitious options to make more money (based on your time availability, of course).
Also, take the time to determine what you want to do with the side hustle in the long term. Do you want to aim to be a tour director? Work under other tour operators? What about tour companies and the travel industry overall?
If you go for it as a full-time job in the future, this can become a day job with unlimited access to new destinations and even a feeling of permanent vacation. Of course, you need a professional licensing examination for that.
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