Business Overview

Tourists are constantly in search of hidden gems in and insider knowledge about their destination, which is what walking tour businesses provide. These businesses take tourists on guided explorations of an area, during which time tourists see both famous locations and lesser-known attractions while getting lots of local knowledge.

Most walking tours explore the area through a particular interest, and there are tours for all kinds of interests. For example, in New York City there are walking tour businesses that offer guided explorations of the city’s haunted locations, architecture and street art.

Who is this business right for?

Anyone who’s people-oriented and is passionate about where they live may enjoy running a walking tour business. Most of the work involves sharing information about an area with visitors.

This is a business that can be done full- or part-time. Business owners who have another job can offer tours when they’re off from their other work.

What happens during a typical day at a walking tour business?

A typical day at a walking tour business may involve giving walking tours and/or marketing the business. Successful businesses might have several tours scheduled in a single day, and business owners may be walking to other area businesses in order to market their tours. In total, business owners can end up walking many miles every day.

What is the target market?

The target market for a walking tour business is tourists who want a local experience of the place they’re visiting. These tend to be affluent people who have a particular interest (e.g. history, haunted buildings, art, etc.).

How does a walking tour business make money?

Walking tour businesses make money from ticket sales and gratuities. Traditionally, ticket sales accounted for most business revenue and gratuities went directly to guides.

As more people start their own tour businesses, a few are experimenting with a “free” model. Instead of charging for tickets, these business owners offer tours for free and then request gratuities at the end of each tour. Visitors end up paying what they can afford and what they believe a tour is worth.

What is the growth potential for a walking tour business?

Many walking tour businesses remain small operations because giving tours requires highly specialized knowledge of a specific area. Some businesses have managed to grow beyond a single region, though, by marketing tours that various local guides give. Country Walkers and Sandemans are two larger companies that have followed the contracting model. Washington Walks is a smaller business in Washington, DC.