If you are charging for your tours you will want to do spend some time thinking about why you are giving guided tours. Is this a part-time business, a full-time vocation or a simple hobby? How much you charge should be reflected in how much expertise you have of the area and how much you have invested into providing tours. Obviously if you own a canal boat in France and employ a crew of four to cater to all of your guests needs you can charge a lot more for your tours. Even having your own bus or car that is insured for touring guests around is a huge expense that you will need to factor into how much you charge for your services. Always examine hiring outside contractors to help you with your transportation needs rather than providing these services in house.
One of the hardest question to answer is what should you charge for your services. A lot of this depends on what kind of clientele you are interested in attracting. The more you charge the more likely you will end up with high maintenance, difficult guests. Determine what the average rate for a guide is in your area. Also, evaluate your skills. If you are fluent in a foreign language or have other special skills like scuba diving you can charge more for your services. You can charge by the hour, by the tour or both. For example, a standard tour might be two hours at a set fee plus an additional fee for any time the tour extends beyond the time allowance.
Keep separate records of for your tour business. If by the end of the year are making a lot of money with your tours you may want to consider getting a tax ID and setting your guide business up as an LLC. Doing this will afford you personal protections and give you access to special financial benefits and tax deductions. Even if you aren’t at the point where you want to set up an LLC it isn’t a bad idea to get a bank account and a business license for your guided tour business.
Clearly put all your charges in writing and try to get paid before the tour begins. Establishing a Paypal account or a credit card account is an easy way to insure that you receive payment for your services. Include in writing what happens to the money if for some reason the tour isn’t executed as scheduled.
Be wary about working for tourist agencies that hire outside guides. Before accepting work from an unknown agency make sure you have a contract in writing and have been paid because you will be placed in an awkward position with no control if the tour does not go well.
Make certain that your guests are clear about what you pay and what they pay regarding all aspects of the tour. This includes transportation, event tickets, entrance fees, road tolls and food and snacks. All of these things will cost you money and you absolutely can’t afford to pay for them if the costs haven’t been included in the price of the tour. Again, you will want to have this all clearly sorted out in writing before your tour begins. It can be very awkward to try to get some guests to pay for things if they are under the impression that everything is included. Learn to accept tips graciously and always thank your guests for giving you an extra tip. Even a small tip is a gesture of appreciation that is freely given and that is a super thing!