Everything you need to know about making money with Showaround

Written by Emma Kansiz

Published 2022-07-05 / 4 min read

Love your hometown or adopted city? Have special knowledge and insight that curious travelers might want to be privy to? Eager to capitalize on the upcoming tourism boom? Enter ShowAround, a European startup that is revolutionizing the tourism-based sharing economy!

What is Showaround?

ShowAround, founded in 2015, is an up and coming platform in the travel space. Their mandate is to ‘change the concept of traveling by making it more authentic and local’. They aim to take tourists beyond commercialized and packaged experiences and provide them with the opportunity to make genuine and heartfelt connections with a place and its people.

And if the numbers are any indication, they are making headway with their goal! They currently operate in 222 countries and over 13,000 cities! They have over 150,000 local tour guides in their network, indicating legitimacy and growth. They have been mentioned in The Guardian and USA Today and with the growth of the sharing economy, their model doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

How does Showaround's earning structure work?

Generally tours are priced by the hour. The hourly price, of course, is up to you! Tourists love ShowAround because the prices are generally a lot more fairly priced than big commercial tours which can run into the hundreds of dollars per hour range. 

ShowAround has begun charging tourists membership fees so they don’t have to take a big commission from their tour guides. This has been controversial for travelers but will be a win for you!

Unlike ToursByLocals, most payments are organized through the platform. This is to reduce the likelihood of scams and to keep everything above board. ShowAround pays directly into your bank account, but you must have an EEA (European Economic Area) bank account to qualify for this option. For those who don't, tourists can request to pay you in your local currency on the day of the tour. What does this mean for North American guides? You have to organize the details of payment with each respective client ahead of time. This might mean cash in hand, an e-transfer or Venmo. Discuss this with your client ahead of time so there are no surprises.

For those who do possess an EEA bank account, you will be paid out 24 hours after your tour, once it has been completed without complaint or incident.

Some travelers will leave you a tip but this is at their discretion and can’t be relied upon as a consistent source of income.

Because people aren’t constantly coming to your city and looking for tour guides, the earning potential over time is not particularly high. This gig could be classified more as a labor of love with a nice financial incentive thrown in. It is hard to budget your income from this platform as the earnings can be wildly inconsistent and depend entirely on travel trends and seasonal fluctuations. We like to consider this a rewarding side gig for pocket money now and again. 

What is the time commitment for Showaround?

The time commitment question is twofold! There is the backend commitment of planning, researching, and organizing your tour and the front end aspect of actually executing it! Both of these components are time consuming in their own ways - and rewarding in their one ways, too! The back end will take up more of your time. This includes all of the planning and researching that goes into your tour. Depending on the nature of your tour you might dedicate hours to library and online research and script writing or you may simply need to reach out to local museums and wine tasting rooms. It would be difficult for us to estimate the time commitment you can expect for this portion. Similarly to writing an essay or working on a project, you will go through rounds of trial and error and not all of your initial ideas will pan out perfectly. You might expect to spend upwards of 20 hours on this portion over the period of a few weeks or months.

You will be responsible for leading the trip, arranging all transport, acquiring tickets or passes, printing any relevant brochures, and choosing the itinerary. Each of these aspects require backend work calling up local service providers, purchasing materials, and making logistical arrangements. We also suggest doing a few run-through tours either alone or with a friend to ensure everything runs as it should.

When it comes to the actual tour you have complete control over your schedule. You can wait for tourists to message you and book directly with their available travel dates. You can also reach out to potential clients. Tourists can post the details of their trip dates and location and you, as a tour guide, can send them an offer with their prices and tour details. This allows you to be proactive.

Tours generally run between 1 and 3 hours but you must also factor in transport and any admin work that will go into the tour on the big day. Tourists also have the option to request you for a customized number of hours. If someone wants to book you for five hours to show them around and you have the time, go for it! ShowAround recommends being prompt when answering booking requests to increase booking rates and to maintain a good reputation.

One of the benefits of ShowAround, when compared to ToursByLocals, however, is that you don’t necessarily have to create a scripted and cohesive tour. You can also simply show up to the designated spot and guide your client around in a more ad hoc, informal way. This makes it a great option for people who have less time to dedicate to organizing a fancy tour, and allows them to make money simply showing their city to newcomers.

How to get started with Showaround?

You can sign up with your email or Facebook account. Once you have set up your basic account you can fill in all of the details of your profile (see below). You can choose whether you would prefer to be contacted by email, Facebook messenger, or phone with booking alerts from the team. Set your own price per hour and select an inviting, friendly profile picture. Include the categories of tours you offer.

Be as explicit as possible on your profile about your interests, passions, and personal attributes. The best tours will occur when you and your clients have common ground. You don’t want to offer something you can’t deliver, or present yourself as being an expert on something that you’re not an expert on! Be frank and authentic and forthcoming. The sections you will be asked to fill out include a quick personal motto, an I Will Show You section, and an Activities section which details what you offer.

Once guests have booked with you, be completely open about the details of your tour including time, special information, and additional costs that aren’t included in the listed price. Be clear with pick up and drop off locations and the itinerary. You want them armed with all the information so they have realistic expectations of what your tour entails. 

Showaround requirements

Required Resources

Depending on what kind of tour you offer, a car might be necessary. You may also want to consider renting a car or charter bus service for your tour dates. Inform yourself about any regional laws and regulations concerning the use of your car for private enterprise. Some municipalities might require you to rent a bonded and commercially licensed shuttle or private car hire for the purpose of your tour.

Any additional resources depend entirely on what kind of tour you want to offer. Hiking tours, urban graffiti tours, and food and wine tours will naturally necessitate different resources. Plan ahead and ensure you have the appropriate museum and entry tickets, outdoors equipment, or reservations to make your tour run smoothly. Establish contacts in your local tourism industry that you can reach out to with queries regarding your tour. This includes local museum staff, shuttle bus operators, and tourist board ambassadors. Dedicate the time to curating a list of resources and contacts before getting your tour up and running.

Required Skills

Because this is a people facing role in the bustling travel sector, you need to have people skills and a love of public speaking! When you are on the clock, so to speak, you need to be gregarious, entertaining, and informative. You must feel comfortable fielding questions, deviating from a script, and being personable to lots of different personalities. If this sounds like you, great! But if the thought of spending intense time with strangers sounds dire, this won’t be the side gig for you.

A passion for learning and research will inform your success as a ShowAround tour guide. You don’t need an extensive academic background or exhaustive niche knowledge, but you must have a factual understanding of the topics that you cover. At the end of the day a passion for your topic or region will wow people more than a long monologue stuffed with facts. So don’t stress if you aren’t a history guru!

Required Documents

You don’t need any documents to begin leading tours through ShowAround! Because it is a ratings and review based site, the community relies on these testimonials to keep everyone on the platform safe.

It has a low barrier of entry and becoming a guide on the site does not require any special training or educational certificates. You do not have to provide any identity or work rights permits to get started on the site. 

Other important details

ShowAround recommends keeping all communication on the platform in case any disputes or issues arise. This is the best practice to ensure a professional exchange with your clients. The messaging app on the platform is easy to use.

Safety should be your utmost concern when fielding booking requests. Even when you are just getting started and want to amass positive reviews, it is in your interest to be wary with any potential bookings. If someone seems pushy or too familiar it is in your right to reject their booking request. If you are a solo female tour guide it is in your interest to be picky with who you choose to lead on a tour. The large majority of people have honest intentions but trust your instincts while communicating with potential clients.

Our review

We love that ShowAround opens up a dialogue between you and the tourist and creates a friendly rapport before the tour has even started. We like that tourists can request a certain amount of hours and can fill in the details of what they want to see and experience. This can take the guesswork out and can create a more relaxed encounter for all involved. This is not a stuffy museum tour-guide platform. It is more like a way to share your city and make an international friend while earning some money!

So we love that ShowAround allows you to earn money and meet fabulous people while exploring your own city and indulging your own passions. We think that ShowAround is part of the ‘benevolent’ arm of the sharing economy. It bypasses corporate structures and the packaged holiday industry and allows people to come together based on their shared humanity. We think this is a noble and rewarding project to be involved in and will leave you feeling better about yourself and the world at large.

Because of the nature of the service, ShowAround is not going to be your primary income source. But as a supplemental income avenue, it is fun and enjoyable and can easily be slotted into your other professional and personal commitments. Generally, guides won’t be leading tours more than a handful of times per month, depending on the popularity of their city and the competition in their given market. So it is fair to assume that you can earn a couple hundred dollars a month on this platform at the high end of the scale. Again, not revolutionary, but a nice income boost for doing something enjoyable.

We like that the sign up process is seamless and low effort. You simply need to fill in your details and provide an overview of the types of tours you offer. You don’t need a resume stuffed with credentials and experience. This makes it more accessible than ToursByLocals (which focuses more on professionally led experiences) and easier to pick up as a casual side gig. We recommend creating a profile, but we also suggest applying for other side gigs to have running in the background as well. It’s never a bad idea to have a few income streams that you can tap into when one of the wells runs dry!