"Free" walking tours--what to tip guide

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May 21st, 2015, 10:18 PM
  #22
 
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Do I expect people to take moral decisions before giving them money????

Yes, so I would not give money to someone standing around for photos with a monkey on their shoulder, or a drunk beggar but if I saw a man collapsed in the street I would use a phone to call for an ambulance no matter what condition even if he had just robbed a little old lady. Similarly I would not bribe to get things done unless it crossed another boundary of health or life.

We all make moral decisions all the time, it is just that sometimes it is hard to see the situation as it really is and sometimes on holiday we like "to let it all go".

There is an arguement that "when in rome be a roman candle" and clearly there will always be a battle between trying to conform to cultural norms that you don't fully understand and carrying out activities to your moral norm. And yes I don't expect to get it right more than say half the time.

This all reads a bit Po faced, probably too much coffee in the early morning.
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May 22nd, 2015, 03:08 AM
  #23
 
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bil: I get tired just reading about the moral quandaries you face.

Repeat after me: It's a tip.
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May 22nd, 2015, 06:35 AM
  #24
 
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ah but a "tip" in Brit English is a place you take your rubbish... have a good weekend
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May 22nd, 2015, 11:03 PM
  #25
 
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****ah but a "tip" in Brit English is a place you take your rubbish... have a good weekend***

or someone's gaff!
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May 22nd, 2015, 11:36 PM
  #26
 
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I have taken the free tours in Barcelona, I did this because the licensed tours wanted a small fortune for their tours and I just wasn't prepared to pay that much! Maybe if they reduced their ( inflated) prices there wouldn't be so many people muscling in on the scene...
Anyway to answer the OP's original question I think we gave about 30/40e ( for the 2 of us) the tour was fantastic... We saw people give them 5, 10 and 20e each, so really does depend on you.
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May 22nd, 2015, 11:36 PM
  #27
 
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Ps we did 2 of the Runnerbean tours they were fab.
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May 23rd, 2015, 04:41 AM
  #28
 
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Anyway to answer the OP's original question I think we gave about 30/40e ( for the 2 of us) the tour was fantastic... We saw people give them 5, 10 and 20e each, so really does depend on you.>

No wonder there are so many free-lance tour guides at that type of money - and yes it was a good tour you say - ah the free market not some cartel of cronies I suspect who get a restricted number of guide licenses - kind of like taxis.
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May 23rd, 2015, 05:02 AM
  #29
 
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bil: >>ah but a "tip" in Brit English is a place you take your rubbish... have a good weekend<<

And a place to take your advice. Have a good weekend.
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May 24th, 2015, 08:53 AM
  #30
 
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We liked our Runnerbean tour, the Gaudi overview one, and at the end, the guide said, "Pay me what you thought the tour was worth."

So the point I want to make is that you are PAYING the guide, not tipping her. He/she has a wrangler back at the tour start who knows how many people went on the tour, and a certain % would be expected from him/her after the tour.

As to the amount, I think we shortchanged her--we tipped (or in reality, paid, so that is why the tipping question) around 30 or 40 euros for the two of us. She was worth more.

As to the other morality issues (because I thought later we had cheated her)...

--I was under the impression when I booked the tour that the arrangement would be similar to the free Forum tour we took in Rome years ago: you tipped the "free" guides (also excellent) and then were enticed to sign up for another paying tour, which we did for their Vatican tour.
Those free Rome tours were highly touted at the time by many official guidebooks.
Runnerbean, however, does not operate that way. Their other tours are also "free." So if you have qualms about that -- I do understand the importance of licensing and taxes -- then now you know.

--I would feel worse about the arrangement, knowing what I know now, except for these hard facts:

1)The guide was EXCELLENT. She was articulate, prepared and professional. The fact that our guide spent a lot of time showing us how to use the Metro and look for and avoid pickpockets made it icing on the cake.

2) Runnerbean provided us with the EXACT tour I wanted for our needs. We had limited time in Barcelona. I wanted a Gaudi overview. I did not want to tour buildings our first hours in Barcelona when I was jetlagged out of my mind. My pre-trip research did not reveal any other viable alternatives except for the old Hop On Hop Off bus things, which we really hate.

2) The tour timing was perfect. We took the tour between the time we arrived in the city and the time we could get into our hotel rooms for a nap.

3) Their location for beginning the tour was perfect--right outside the doorway of our hotel.

4) When we came back to Barcelona a week later, our decision of which Gaudi buildings to tour were based on solid background provided by our guide.

Hope this helps.
AZ
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May 24th, 2015, 09:54 AM
  #31
 
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The issue is that those running "free" tours do not contribute to, or support in any way, the upkeep of that great Gaudí building you came thousands of miles to see. If you want an overview of Gaudí and his works, then read a book. You can find them a your local (tax supported) city or county library (free of charge of course).

As far as the cost of the professional guide services go, you're in Catalunya. What else would you expect?


>I have taken the free tours in Barcelona, I did this because the licensed tours wanted a small fortune for their tours and I just wasn't prepared to pay that much! Maybe if they reduced their ( inflated) prices there wouldn't be so many people muscling in on the scene...<

And I'll bet you can still find a driver to take you around Thailand for $1/day. Talk about inflated prices!
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May 25th, 2015, 09:32 AM
  #32
 
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Robert2533--"you can find them...county library (free of charge of course)"

Funny you should say that. There are many writers who view libraries as the ultimate theft of their income. By buying one book, usually at a discount, the library takes away potentially hundreds of buyers and thus robs them of royalties.
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May 25th, 2015, 11:38 PM
  #33
 
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A recent problem in BCN.
the news is in Spanish. The story is basically, a local man was explaining details of Parque Güell to his friends. He was approached by a security guard and asked to stop. The local ( Ricard Galcerán) complained at the office for the attraction about this heavy handedness. It seems the law states that it is not allowed for Catalan cultural explanations by unlicensed individuals.
Shame they do not stop these so called free tours running around the streets too.
http://www.elperiodico.com/es/notici...-guell-4217037
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May 25th, 2015, 11:58 PM
  #34
 
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Also this website for Discover Walks has suspended the so called free tours. Unfortunately does not say why.
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Jun 15th, 2017, 12:37 AM
  #35
 
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I realise this is an old thread. Just throwing out there that often your tipped tour guides DO report income, pay taxes, etc. They might have to pay the company a per person fee so if nobody tips, they actually lose money. They may be tested on their location, have to audition, or pay insurance.

In short, most guides do this because they love their cities and love showing them off, meeting new people, etc. They don't do it to scam anyone or get rich quick, particularly if affiliated with a large tour company.
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Jun 17th, 2017, 08:51 AM
  #36
 
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I can see both sides of this debate - I will say that we have had some wonderful guides and some awful ones, and the worst was one of the official guides - expensive and just awful, whereas some of the guides we've found by serendipity (and I don't know if they were licensed, they may be) were amazing.

I will say that during a wonderful guided tour today through Barcelona focused on Barcelona's role in the Spanish Civil War (Spanish civil war tours), Nick, our guide told the following story: George Orwell arrives in Barcelona to fight in the International Brigade - he checks into a hotel and tries to tip the bellhop and is admonished by the manager not to do so as we are all comrades now.
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Jun 19th, 2017, 03:46 AM
  #37
 
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And here is another point of view:

We were on a cycling tour of a country (one I cannot name--I can only say that it was not Spain) where one had to have a country-registered guide for any portion of the tour. The problem? The guide assigned to the group was USELESS. And we were informed by our cycling guides that in their experience in leading over a hundred trips in the locale was that the "official" guides were pretty darn bad. They knew that in other countries, they could hand us over to a local expert without another thought. However, in this country, all the local guides wasted the time of the clientele.

Our cycling guides did their best to compensate, including taking us on "secret" adventures through various ruins.

Let me make this clear: our cycling guides did enough per day. They were in charge of so many various things that went on in terms of organization, mechanics, medical issues, you name it. But they still were so enthusiastic about the history and the experience of where we were that they did not want their guests to confuse "miles ridden" with the amazing place where we were, and their enthusiasm which was never, ever matched by our "official" guide.
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Jun 19th, 2017, 03:52 AM
  #38
 
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>>Just throwing out there that often your tipped tour guides DO report income, pay taxes, etc.<<

You're destroying a favorite narrative.
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Jan 27th, 2018, 01:56 PM
  #39
 
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Originally Posted by vincenzo32951 View Post
>>Just throwing out there that often your tipped tour guides DO report income, pay taxes, etc.<<

You're destroying a favorite narrative.
Im shocked at some of these comments. I work as a free walking tour guide.

Let me explain to you how it works...

The tour company that you book your free walking tours through has public liability insurance which covers all the tourists that take part in the tours.

The guides have to buy each and every tourist from the tour company - we usually pay a few euros for every tourist the company finds.
We then have to live off the tips that we earn - the guides are self employed, I pay my tax and so do most of my coworkers, this is their full time income and they pay our taxes as otherwise there is no state pension or access to health care.

The worst thing to happen to a guide is to have tourists walk off. Today I had a group of 8 tourists on a 3 hour walking tour. 3 tourists snuck off 10 mins before the end of the tour, they didn't even say goodbye to me, or thanks, but its not for us, ect. They had spent 2.5 hours listening to me explain the city, sampling cake, wine, ect. 1. It meant that I lost money as I had to buy these tourists, 2. It meant that I wasted my time and the rest of the groups time looking for the missing tourists. 3. I did not understand why the run away...did I offend them? were the bored? ddi they just not want to tip? I will never know! It is so rude to run off like that. Lucky my other 5 tourists tipped well and so I made a profit.

I have a BA, MA in History and I have worked as tour guide for 3 years in Canada, before relocating. The city that I guide in, I have studied the history of it at uni for 3 years here, before I became a guide.

Last edited by hamster2008; Jan 27th, 2018 at 02:03 PM.
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Jan 27th, 2018, 03:02 PM
  #40
kja
 
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@ hamster2008: Please clarify -- in what city do you work?
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