Dear guests,

We are sorry to inform you that we are experiencing some technical problems with our customer service phone line. In the meantime, you can reach out to us on the (+49) 15 1292018 24. You can also send us all your questions to [email protected].

We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience and understanding.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is SANDEMANs NEW Europe?
2. How does the FREE Tour work?
3. What is most appealing about free walking tours for today’s travelers?
4. Are the tours really free?
5. Do the guides keep all of the tips they receive?
6. How does SANDEMANs NEW Europe know how many people are on each tour?
7. Are the guides who work with SANDEMANs licensed tour guides?
8. What kind of training do the guides go through? How do I become a guide who works with SANDEMANs?
9. Who pays tax on the guides’ earnings?
10. How does SANDEMANs NEW Europe generate revenue?
11. Why don’t the guides mention that they pay a marketing fee during their tours?
12. How do the Pub Crawls work?
13. How did this business start? What sparked the idea of free city tours?
14. SANDEMANs has expanded to 19 cities since 2004. What are the primary reasons for this growth?
 



1. What is SANDEMANs NEW Europe?
SANDEMANs NEW Europe is one of the largest promoters and operators of city walking tours and experiences in the world. The freelance tour guides who work with SANDEMANs pay the company to market tours for them, and this is the basis of our mutually beneficial relationship: we connect great guides with smart travelers. The company is best known for pioneering the FREE Tour model - an innovative, gratuity-based model that has driven a paradigm shift in global tourism and has put the power back into the hands of the modern-day traveller. Today, there are hundreds of organizations offering free tours, and we are proud to be one of the driving forces of this movement.

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2. How does the FREE Tour work?
Traditional tour operators expect customers to trust them by charging a fee upfront. We have reversed this dynamic by placing trust in the guest, and the FREE Tour is so appealing to travellers because it makes it possible for them to support and reward only high-quality service. This, in turn, requires guides who work with us to provide nothing but the best. The FREE Tour is a largely self-regulating model in terms of quality control; guides who are engaging, in general, have a higher earning potential. Guides who are less engaging are unlikely to see as much financial reward as they would through a traditional, fee-based model, and therefore, are less likely to choose to offer FREE Tours.

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3. What is most appealing about free walking tours for today’s travelers?
The FREE Tour is also able to attract a new market of tour guests and, of the 2 million travellers we expect to welcome on tours this year, over 20% of first-time customers to SANDEMANs will have never done any kind of tour before in their lives. They come on the FREE Tour not because it is monetarily free, but because it is risk-free. A guest on the FREE Tour is welcome to tip as much or as little as they feel the tour was worth and does not have to commit to paying anything more than they want to pay, so if they don’t enjoy the product, they have nothing to lose.

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4. ​Are the tours really free?
That is entirely at the discretion of the tour taker. The core philosophy of the organization, and the model itself, is embedded in the belief that if money is given, it should be in direct proportion to the enjoyment and budget of the individual traveler. Some travelers choose not to give a tip, but the vast majority do. Again, travelers like the model not because it is necessarily monetarily free, but rather, risk-free.

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5. ​Do the guides keep all of the tips they receive?
All monies the freelance guides receive are their own, and are retained by the guides. Like all freelancers, the guides have their individual business expenses, and they include in these the marketing fees they pay SANDEMANs to bring guests to their tours. The amount each guide pays to SANDEMANs for marketing services is calculated according to their individual agreement with the company, and takes into account such factors as the city they are operating in, the number of guests on their tours, the season, the quantity and quality of reviews they receive on platforms such as TripAdvisor, and the repeat custom of guests on their tours in booking other SANDEMANs products. Every freelance guide is given the chance to give three FREE Tours under the SANDEMANs NEW Europe marketing brand without paying any associated marketing fees. This allows every guide to evaluate their individual earning potential in the FREE Tour model before entering into a business relationship with SANDEMANs NEW Europe.

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6. ​How does SANDEMANs NEW Europe know how many people are on each tour?
An employed member of staff is present at the meeting point who welcomes the guests and helps to facilitate the allocation of these guests to the individual guide partners. It is this person who counts the groups for the guides to pay their marketing fee.

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7. ​Are the guides who work with SANDEMANs licensed tour guides?
In the majority of cities SANDEMANs operates in, licenses are not required for tour guides. In the exceptions to this case (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and New York), SANDEMANs works only with licensed guides. However, in all other cities, we work with both guides who have state certifications, and those who do not. Unless required by local law, we do not make a state certification a prerequisite, because we know from experience that most people can learn the relevant facts required to be a guide, but that presenting them in an engaging fashion is an entirely different skill. SANDEMANs of course does assess the quality of guides’ tours before entering into a working relationship with them (see below) and we believe that these assessments, combined with the 150,000+ five-star traveler reviews written about SANDEMANs-promoted tours, places these guides and SANDEMANs tours as a representation of excellent quality in the industry.

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8. What kind of training do the guides go through? How do I become a guide who works with SANDEMANs?
SANDEMANs is not a guide training organisation, nor does it dictate how guides should give their tours - SANDEMANs purely promotes tours offered by freelance tour guides to travelers.  However, the SANDEMANs brand has become synonymous with quality and entertainment, and it is important that the guides who choose SANDEMANs to market their tours fit within that brand. Guides wanting to employ SANDEMANs are required to both sit written tests and submit video auditions before SANDEMANs will agree to market their services.  While prospective guide partners are encouraged to attend SANDEMANs tours so that they can get a feel for the brand, and talk to the other freelancers who work within it, this is not necessarily a requirement.

Guides who are interested in working with SANDEMANs are invited to attend Guide Information Sessions, so that they can be informed of the model and the relationship between guides and the organisation.  SANDEMANs will only represent guides who are legally allowed to work in the country they choose to operate in and have completed all legal registrations applicable to that country.

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9. Who pays tax on the guides’ earnings?
As with any organization that works with freelancers, it is the duty of the freelancer, and not the organization he/she works with, to ensure that he or she is complying with all relevant laws and obligations. However, SANDEMANs does request evidence of tax numbers, freelancer registrations and all other applicable legal registrations before it embarks upon a working relationship with a freelance guide.

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10. How does SANDEMANs NEW Europe generate revenue?
While best known as one of the pioneers of the FREE Tour model, all SANDEMANs cities of operation will also offer themed “Select Tours”, for which there is a standard fee. The FREE Tour acts as an introductory overview to the city, and allows the guests to see the standard of the guides and the tours for themselves, before they commit to paying anything. On average, 45% of guests on the FREE Tour will enjoy the tour so much that they will wish to purchase additional products offered or marketed by SANDEMANs.

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11. Why don’t the guides mention that they pay a marketing fee during their tours?
The guests are not informed during the tours about the cost associated with promoting them to attend a tour, as it would create an unfair pressure on them to engender a tip. Not only do we fully believe in this sentiment, but it has also been supported by legal authorities (Landgericht Berlin, 27.09.2007, Aktenzeichen: 52 O 425/07). The guests need to retain the right to decide on their own if they wish to leave a tip for the guide or not, without being swayed by the mention of a marketing fee. However the presence of a marketing fee is not hidden from guests; it is included in all online and offline SANDEMANs marketing.

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12. How do the Pub Crawls work?
SANDEMANs offers Pub Crawls in many of the cities in which we operate; they consist of a four hour experience to a number of bars and a club. These Pub Crawls are designed for travelers who want to experience the nightlife of a city. They provide both groups and those traveling alone with the opportunity to do this in a safe environment, surrounded by like minded people, and with the advantage of a local guide who has the best knowledge of their city.  

SANDEMANs NEW Europe supports the responsible enjoyment of alcoholic beverages. We want everyone to have an unforgettable night; the aim is to show the guests the city’s nightlife, not to get the guests drunk.  For the safety of our guests, both the Pub Crawl leaders and the bars we work with will cut off any guest who has reached his or her limit.

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13. How did this business start? What sparked the idea of free city tours?
Founder Chris Sandeman was working as a tour guide in Berlin, and he often received more money in tips than he did from the fee for giving the tour itself.  He saw that guests appreciated the presentation of information just as much - if not more - than the information itself, reflected through the appreciation he was seeing in terms of gratuities. The next logical step was offering tours for free, where people could tip him at the end if they liked the tour. Thus creating an appealing, risk-free service for all travellers.

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14. SANDEMANs has expanded to 19 cities since 2004. What are the primary reasons for this growth?
After the quick successes of the innovative FREE Tour model in Berlin, SANDEMANs saw a need for similar products in other major world cities. The philosophy behind the FREE Tour, that everyone should be able to experience the beauty and rich history of any city, regardless of their budget, attracted a large section of people who otherwise would not have been inclined to partake in organized tours. The growth of the SANDEMANs network in turn led to these existing customers often actively looking for SANDEMANs tours as their first stop in a city, and the continuously positive word of mouth promotion and reviews on platforms such as TripAdvisor led to the discovery of the brand for new customers as well.

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