5 Steps To Planning A Walking Tour

‘I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees’- Henry David Thoreau

Planning anything is never easy! It’s best to accept this fact right at the outset itself. It takes hours of preparation to come up with the perfect plan that will not only suit your own needs and pace but those of your co-participants as well- who in this case, are your clients. (Phew!!) Sounds a bit overwhelming right? Well, it can be but then again planning a walking tour is not really rocket science if you know your city and its history decently well.

While building Altertrips, we are constantly encouraging local hosts to monetize their skills or expertise that they never thought were actually salable. While talking one-on-one to several individuals, I realized that many of them don’t think much of the fact that they know an area or culture really well or are great cooks or artists, but usually do it more as an hobby because they have never looked at the skill as an income generating opportunity. So every time I’ve tried to convince them that their skills are actually salable, they’ve come up with questions like:

· But how? I have never done anything like this before.

· How do I start my own tour/classes/events?

· How do I plan my tour/events/classes?

· Will people be actually interested in my walking tour/baking classes/dinner parties?

So while in one of my previous posts I shared on how to turn your expertise as a dancer into an income generating opportunity, today I am going to pen down some guidance on how to plan a great walking tour.

Pic Courtesy: Irma Cagliostro

STEP 1: Picking the location/s

As a local resident, pick a location that you think you have adequate knowledge on. In the era of hyper-local experiences, travelers are keen to explore a location in all its authenticity. Hence, if you happen to know the street-shopping markets like the back of your hand or the ins and outs of the traditional part of your city, you could very well consider them as the route for the walking tour. Heritage and old city tours, culinary or street-market tours, a particular neighborhood/venue tours, graffiti tours- all make great options for walking tours of your city.

Pic Courtesy: Mike Wilson

STEP 2: Research the idea for your tour well

Now imagine a hypothetical situation where you are taking a culinary walking tour and your guide has no clear idea on the best local food markets in the city. You had done a bit of research yourself about the local food markets prior to the tour and so you realize that the ones being showcased to you are not the cities oldest or the most authentic local food markets. Not an ideal situation to be in, right- for either the guide or the guest? So it’s imperative that you research your tour really well and acquaint yourself with the smallest details that are relevant for your tour and its locale.

STEP 3: Planning the route

You probably already have in mind which could be the best spots to start and conclude the tour. An ‘easy to locate’ point is probably the best place to start your tour so that travelers can easily find their way to the starting point. Also, do an inventory (in advance) of the probable stops that could make your tour memorable for those taking it. Make a list of all of the sites that can be potential stops, and pinpoint their location on a street map. Planning is key- remember that!

Pic Courtesy: http://www.p.city-walks.info/

Step 4: Create a guided discovery

One thing that you always need to keep in mind is that it’s crucial to draw out intriguing stories and fascinating details of the neighbourhood. Remember that your guests want to explore and learn about the facts and fictions of the locale they are visiting. So, make your tour truly engaging by connecting the past to the present while helping travelers to soak up on the minutiae details of the various attractions- with their rich past and captivating present- that surround them. 
Tip: Shortcuts and masked details are always popular as it helps travellers feel like a local, knowing the insider anecdotes and the secret back alleys.

Pic Courtesy: Andre Benz

Step 5: Schedule and Advertise

Now that you’re all prepped up to host your tour, choose a date and time and start advertising your tour. Note that marketing your tour is as important as planning it. Hand out flyers to local hotels, or use a website and word-of-the-mouth to advertise your tour. You can also use printed cards, brochures or badges as a take home for your guests so that they not only remember their experience but are also encouraged to share about your tours with their friends and family.

Pic Courtesy: Robbie Noble

So now that you have a decent idea on how to go about planning a walking tour in five simple steps, I truly hope that you will decide to give it a shot and make the most of your knowledge of your neighbourhood and lead travellers from around the world on fun and enthralling walks.