This is an interesting article, lots of people have views on this subject and preconceived idea of how things work or don't work.
I have been a free walking tour guide for 3 years now and I am long way from being a Student, just passed the big 50 I have found myself in the current economic situation in Europe to for forced to change my profession. I do admit to having previous experience in this field, So when I found my business floundering I went back to this job.
I previously had done Paid walking tours and CHOSE to go the Free tour route after realising that there was not enough travellers willing to pay €12-15 for a tour but 1000's who would do it for free.
I work for a company where guides have to pay a marketing fee, this I am more than happy to do, I'm self employed and always have been, I've always had business expenses and this 'Marketing Fee' is the only one I have now. Lots less than when I had my own shop.
We normally have about 30 guests per tour, averaging a €2 per person pay in to the company.
I hope that the people enjoy my tour enough to tip me what they think it is worth. These tours demand a lot of high energy and besides knowing the history we also have to be entertaining enough to keep the people interested to stay for 3+ hours and listen to me chatting. I am a far better tour guide when working like this for my money than I was as a paid guide, regardless of the tour I did being a Paid guide I still got the same money, so if I was tired or maybe just lazy or feeling great, I'd go through the motions and as long as I told the info no one was going to complain to me.
Besides being a tour guide we need to be history teachers, comics, tourist information officers, Story tellers along with so many other skills expected of us from out guests.
Hey I make money, This is my full time job, I have a nice apartment in the centre of a major European city. pay my bills,and have some left over to travel and have a few pints of Guinness.
We do judge people and sometimes even some nationalities, We know who tips and who does not and to be honest sometimes the ones who ask the most questions are the ones to sneak away at the end and not tip....... Yeah we always know who you are.
I've done walking tours all over Europe and have never been disappointed with the free ones, something I can't say about the paid ones, yes there has been some bad ones.
Remember people, if you go on a tour, the guide will ALWAYS have to pay something, including the ones who say they are local volunteers, Who pays for the marketing, Flyers distribution, Admin, legal fees and licenses etc.
Please consider what a similar tour would cost you, your budget and just how much fun and info you got out of the tour, think about a €2-3 Marketing fee and tip the guide on these considerations.
Maybe I'll be your guide if you come to Dublin