The rise of self-guided tours

It is a whole new world for the travel industry. Like the rest of the travel industry, the tours, activities, and attractions sector was effectively shut down throughout much of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that many nations are gradually lifting restrictions, tours, activities and attractions operators need to embrace new consumer preferences.

Arival’s recent report into mobile self-guided tours provides brilliant insight into how operators can leverage self-guided tours on their path to recovery. The report explains that three trends will remain relevant in travel: local or domestic travel, travel in smaller groups and continued price sensitivity. Self-guided tours fit in nicely with these three categories.

Self-guided tours occurred pre-coronavirus, but they have special significance in the present day as a way for operators to recover from the crisis whilst travellers are still cautious and restrictions still present. Travellers find self-guided tours appealing for a range of reasons:


Even pre-pandemic, self-guided tours were liked by many travellers because of their inherent flexibility. In their 2019 report ‘Inside the Mind of the Modern Tour Taker’, Arival found that 70% of people surveyed didn’t take tours because they prefer to explore a destination on their own. Some will see the appeal: no specific departure times, no travelling in groups, just freedom to explore. With a self-guided tour, tourists can spend more time in locations that interest them rather than following a tour guide and an accompanying group.


After the financial devastation caused by the pandemic, many will be cutting back on non-essential spending. The beauty of self-guided tours is they are relatively inexpensive, usually costing between $15 to $30. For people wanting to participate in travel experiences without too many extra costs, self-guided tours, especially mobile self-guided tours, are ideal.

Health and Safety

For those concerned about COVID-19 but are desperate to travel, self-guided tours have an appeal. They tick all the safety boxes: they avoid crowds and enable travellers to stay with their group rather than mix with others. Travellers can dictate their own safety by avoiding locations they may perceive as an infection risk. No more crowding around a tour guide, rubbing shoulders with strangers. There is a growing trend towards bike or walking tours, where travellers can enjoy scenery and points of interest on the move, with limited social contact.

Travel has been fundamentally changed because of the pandemic. Consequently, operators must pivot with consumer preferences to generate bookings. The self-guided tours subsection of the travel industry has shown that adaptable businesses that utilise technology to their advantage are more likely to weather the storm. Tour operators need to ensure they are not only offering unmissable tours but also a seamless payment experience. By joining Trust My Travel, tour operators can offer customers a secure but seamless payment platform that will increase conversion rates and inspire customer confidence. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Trust My Travel user, please contact us today. A member of our friendly team will be on hand to discuss your requirements in more detail.