With the ability to earn $4,000 per month in tips depending on the location and group size, locals who are active in their communities are using GuruWalk to provide for their families while giving travelers a unique experience.
Born in Valencia, Spain in early 2017, GuruWalk recently raised about $175,000 (150K euros) from private investors, and is looking to have 100,000 bookings per month by the end of 2019.
Our plan is to become the leading marketplace for this space
The web-based application is free for users to make bookings, and local guides earn their tips by providing memorable tours that most agencies don’t provide.
Co-Founder Juan Castillo tells The Sociable that GuruWalk does tours in a “fun and entertaining way.”
Thanks to our platform, many people are already working on what they are passionate about,
“We found out many people wanted to work as free tour guides, but they didn’t have the resources or the knowledge for starting by themselves. Making your own website and doing your own marketing campaing, is a way different job than being a tour guide, which could be demotivating,” he says.
“Thanks to our platform, many people are already working on what they are passionate about, and having an important source of extra income. Some people are artists who could be the next Mozart or Picasso, but they are not able to live just with their work, but they offer these tours from Friday to Sunday, when we have more bookings, and they earn enough for paying their bills.
We prefer to focus where we really add value
“Some of our ‘gurus’ told us this is the best job in the world, because they enjoy meeting people from all over the world, they have so much fun, and they greatly improve their social and leadership skills. One of them, an actor, said: ‘this is the best opportunity to have public everyday! I love it!'” says Castillo.
“We are focused on the places where many travelers are looking for this kind of tours, but there is no one offering them. We do not want to compete in the top cities like Berlin or Barcelona right now. We prefer to focus where we really add value, the small and medium sized cities, and leave for later the locations with stronger competition.
“Most of our tours are about the main landmarks of a city, but we do have many special ones, like a Game of Thrones tour in Duvrobnik, a Harry Potter tour in London, or a guruwalk inside a volcano in Tenerife… Since the term ‘free tour’ is a little misleading, because you are free to join, free to leave, but you are supposed to pay a tip at the end, people is starting calling this tours ‘guruwalks’ so we hope people will use our brand when talking about this concept, the same way they talk about “airbnbs” when they refer to shared appartments,” he adds.
As for weekly growth, the Spaniard says, “We were growing at 25% before the summer, and now we are growing at 50%.”
With a presence in 210 cities, mainly in Europe and many in Latin America, the first city the Spanish startup focused on was Havana, Cuba.
In places where it is hard to find a decent living, giving free walking tours through GuruWalk can help locals bring in over $100 for three hours of work with groups of just 10 or less as the average tip per person is a little over $9.
According to Castillo, tour guides are on average made up of 60% men and 40% women, and about 70% of all bookings, including the biggest groups, come from women.
If a guide turns out to be less than exceptional, there is a review process, and Castillo says that this has only happened about two or three times over a period of a year and a half and thousands of bookings.
“Since guides earn money from tips, they must put the effort in to get those tips,” he says.
With a focus on the sharing economy for freelance tour guides, the GuruWalk co-founder says, “Our plan is to become the leading marketplace for this space.”
Without putting any money into ads, the Spanish startup makes itself known by engaging in local communities online to find the most passionate and enthusiastic candidates.
These candidates go through an initial screening and training process and away they go. Whereas most organizations work with agencies, GuruWalk looks to empower individual freelancers.
Anyone can sign up for a free walking tour on the website without having to pay any upfront cost for the reservation.
Guides can publish and promote a tour anywhere in the world through the online platform, and neither guides nor travelers have to pay any reservation fees as all tours are based on tips.
The Valencia-based startup prefers to shy away from the term “free walking tour” because it implies that there is no cost at all, whereas a “guruwalk” means that you leave the guide a tip at the end of a tour, based on how much you enjoyed your experience.