Ep. 25 — How I built a free walking tours business (with John O’Sullivan)

On Episode 25 of the Tourpreneur Podcast John O’Sullivan of Walks 101 shares his tour operator journey with us and explains why he opted to run a tour business using the free walking tours business model.

This is the podcast where we flatten the learning curve to help you grow your business and delight your customers. Maybe you have also considered a free walking tour or just like me maybe you are curious about how they work.

I’ve never really understood how companies make money from a free walking tour and John kindly walks us (sorry for the pun) through it.

He’s a very passionate entrepreneur and in this episode, we had a great chat about how he got started with his tour business, how he promotes his tours, the business model behind free walking tours, managing tour guides, the OTA landscape, digital marketing, etc

Image source – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/free-tour-business-model-why-its-broken-john-o-sullivan/?trackingId=

John reveals in a conversation with Tourpreneur Host Shane Whaley why he decided to build a free walking tour business

During my travels in Europe, I was inspired by the plethora of free walking tour companies operating in just about every major city. When I arrived to Australia, I wanted to bring the free tour concept with me. Early in 2017, Walks 101 was born.

I’ve been immediately blown away by the popularity of the concept and happy to recruit a team of highly knowledgeable, entertaining, and funny guides. Each guide brings their own unique sensibility to their Melbourne walking tour, and it has been a joy leading such a qualified team.

John also shares with us:

  • How he generates revenue from the free walking tours business model.
  • Why he uses FareHarbor for his online booking platform.
  • What he would like to see FareHarbor change.
  • What frustrates him about customers paying fees on bookings.
  • Why he thinks Checkfront is a good booking platform for new tour operators.
  • How he grew his business and why he loves developing tours.
  • How he recruits and trains tour guides.
  • The 2 kinds of person he looks for when hiring tour guides.
  • What qualities make a great tour guide.
  • His views on licensed versus non-licensed tour guides.
  • How he first started marketing his walking tours.
  • Why Tour Operators should listen to Ira Glass.
  • His thoughts about the OTA landscape.
  • His favorite 3 podcasts.

    And Much More!

Resources and websites mentioned on Episode 25 of the Tourpreneur Podcast with John O’Sullivan of Walks 101

The Tourpreneur Daily Brief – never miss out on the tours, activities and experience companies who are making the news. Daily free email from the host of the Tourpreneur Podcast Shane Whaley.