Effective Ways to Earn More Tips as a Tour Guide
Leading tours in a historic city or pristine wilderness location is one of the most enjoyable jobs available… but that doesn’t mean it’s all fun and games! Tour guides work hard to make the experience amazing for their visitors. Whether they’re going above and beyond to connect with guests or dealing with difficult customers, at the end of the day, tour guides deserve a great tip.
Asking for a tip can feel a little awkward, but tipping has become a widely accepted practice in the tour industry. Unlike in the restaurant industry, where tipping is common in the United States but not required in many European countries, tour guides around the world accept tips for a job well done. Fortunately, travelers are well aware of this and typically budget for a tip when they go on a tour.
Most travelers tip between 10% and 20% of the total tour cost.
If you’re a tour guide, or you want to help your guides make more tips, there are several ways to make travelers aware of the tipping process or encourage them to say thank you for an amazing tour.
6 Strategies to Promote Tipping
1. Include a Tip Policy on Your Website
Chances are, your website has a frequently asked questions page. This is the perfect place to include a question and answer about tipping:
Do tour guides accept tips?
Our guides do accept tips, and they are greatly appreciated. Tipping is left up to the individual, but as a general practice, 15% – 20% of the trip cost is the common gratuity in Denver.
A simple message like this gets right to the point without pressuring the individual to tip their guide. Do some research on the tipping customs in your location so you may suggest an appropriate tip. Usually, 10% to 20% is standard.
2. Post Guides’ Venmo or Cash App Info at Your Location
Depending on what kind of tour you run, you might not be around as guests are departing, especially if you have to quickly turn equipment around for the next group. If guests can’t track their guide down, they might be hesitant to tip or unsure of how to do so.
Create a sign or poster at your check-in location with tour guide names, photos, and Venmo or Cash App usernames so that tour guests can easily recognize their guide and send a tip right from their phone. You can also include their personalized Venmo or CashApp QR code for a more streamlined tipping process. In a society where so few people carry cash, this method is sure to boost your tips!
Pro tip: Have fun with your tip jar or signage to encourage guests to tip. Use fun images or include a silly slogan like this one from a Colorado whitewater rafting company: “Don’t flip the boat! Tip your guide!” The more clever you make your tip signage, the more tips you could receive.
3. Include Tip Reminders in Follow-Up Emails
Chances are you’re taking advantage of FareHarbor’s automatic follow-up emails to send thank-you messages to guests after their activity.
You can also use these to remind guests to tip their tour guide after the fact if they missed the opportunity on the day of their tour. Include the guide’s Venmo or Cash App information in addition to a friendly thank you and any other pertinent info like review sites and your business social media profiles.
Pro Tip: As an additional reminder, add a note in the confirmation email that tips for the guides are welcome after the tour. This way, customers are reminded to bring cash or plan for a tip ahead of time.
4. Remind Guests to Tip at the End of the Tour
Most tour guides have a small speech they give guests at the end of the experience. For example, you probably thank them for coming, tell them you enjoyed having them, and remind them how to get back to their cars. Slip in a quick reminder about tipping:
“I hope you all had an amazing time! Thank you so much for joining us. Please consider leaving a tip and reviewing us on Tripadvisor. Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you with anything while you’re in town.”
It might feel awkward at first, but soon it will become second nature. Tour guests who travel frequently are likely already planning to leave a tip.
Pro Tip: As mentioned earlier, it’s helpful for customers when you let them know how much is customary to tip in your industry and area. But you can go one step further and do the math for them! For example, tell customers “15% is customary, and 15% of this tour is $20.” This eliminates any guesswork on the customers’ part.
5. Go Above and Beyond During the Tour
Want to double your tip? Strive to make a personal connection with your guests. This might be challenging if you’re with a large group, but if you have the opportunity to find something in common with the people on your tour, they’ll be even more appreciative of your time.
Introduce yourself by name at the beginning of the tour. Remember guests’ names and address them by name whenever possible. Share some information about yourself, especially if you’re local to the area. Be sure to offer recommendations on additional things to do in your area, especially if they’re off the beaten path.
Overall, amazing tour guides are patient, funny, energetic, and great listeners. These are the skills you should practice to increase your perceived value as a tour guide.
6. Get Ideas from Other Tour Operators
Still looking for creative ways to increase tips at your location? See what your fellow tour operators are doing to boost tips at their businesses. The FareHarbor Community is a great place to start this conversation, share ideas, and try something new.
In this thread, operators discuss good solutions for customers to tip guides in our increasingly cashless society.
Sneak peek: Include a custom field on the book form that offers the opportunity to tip during the booking process.
Join Community to access the full conversation.