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Adding a Self-Guided Tour to Your Offerings

Last updated on September 7, 2022
7 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • Adding a self-guided tour is a great way to attract more customers.
  • This type of offering works for many different types of businesses.
  • Once created, this type of offering is of low cost to run.

Skill Level

All Skill Levels

Tour operators are always searching for creative, unique ways to keep their businesses successful. One option that is exceedingly popular (especially after travel restrictions and social distancing) is a self-guided tour. 

A self-guided tour is beneficial to both tour operators (for its low cost to run) and for customers who enjoy exploring on their own. Additionally, since almost everyone has a smartphone in their pocket, this type of tour is a more viable option than ever. 

What is a self-guided tour? 

A self-guided tour is a great way for you to leverage your knowledge of your local area while utilizing modern technology (audio recordings, mobile apps, QR codes, etc.) to make a streamlined experience for your customers. The goal is to ensure your customers are getting an interactive, exciting experience where they will learn the same information as if they were on a traditional tour with a guide.  

You must ensure the customer has everything they need to have a successful time, such as equipment, a map, and a number to call if they require assistance. Essentially, you are doing all of the research and route planning for your customers so they don’t have to. 


  • Appeal to a large group of customers: Depending on your tour, it can attract locals, experienced travelers, families, and more – giving you a larger target audience.
  • Works for many different business models: This type of tour will work for many different types of businesses, such as a city walking tour, kayaking tour, food truck tour, hiking tour, historic landmark tour… the list could go on and on.
  • Low cost to run: Once your technology and routes are mapped out, a self-guided tour is generally quite affordable. You won’t need to pay a tour guide and customers can typically use their own phone to follow the self-guided tour. 
  • Customers have more options: Customers are able to choose their own route and choose which stops mean the most to them. They can go at their own pace without relying on a tour guide and waiting for other guests. 

Technology and Equipment Needed to Run a Self-Guided Tour

Audio Tour

An audio tour may be the easiest option. These are quick to set up as you can simply record using your phone or any other recording device. Write engaging commentary that will describe the designated spot on the tour. For example, consider you are running a self-guided hiking tour. At one of the spots, you can create an audio recording that tells the customer about all of the surrounding wildflowers that grow there. 

Pro Tip: Coordinate your self-guided tour route with GPS technology. Your audio commentary can be set to play when a customer steps into a certain location. This will help to create a more immersive experience. 

QR Codes

QR codes are another great tool you can utilize for your self-guided tour, and you can create them for free with a site like QR Code Generator. Place the QR codes in designated areas along your tour. When a customer arrives at that spot, they can scan the QR code and be taken to a blog post you had written about that spot, an audio recording, or any other resource you have available! 

It is important to note that you will need to place your QR codes in a spot you are legally allowed to do so or risk getting fined and having your QR codes removed by authorities. 

Mobile App

Creating a mobile app for your self-guided tour may be the most involved option, but it can have the best payoff! You can combine the tools from above into an app that has every feature you need in one place. Include the audio recordings, QR code resources, FAQ page, interactive map, and any other tool your customers may need while they are on your tour. You can also design your mobile app to have the ability to download to a customer’s phone. This means if they do not have service, the tour will not be disrupted and you will not have to deal with upset customers

Pricing your tour

A general rule of thumb is to keep the cost of your self-guided tour lower than your tours that do include a guide. That being said, since you do not have a max capacity nor do they need to start at a specific time, the amount of customers per day is technically unlimited. 

If you decide to have multiple tour options, you can base your prices on the length of the tour, the type of tour, or any other differentiating factor. 

Pro Tip: If you are looking for ways to make extra money, rent out your equipment for the self-guided tour. Binoculars, bikes, hiking poles, and even snacks can all be add-ons that make the tour a more enjoyable experience.

Now you have the knowledge and tools to decide if creating a self-guided tour is the right choice for your business! 

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