Getting A Tour Guide Job
Now that you have all the information about what a tour guide is, the different types of tours can you can work on and how much the tour industry pays, we can look at more detail about how to actually go about getting a tour job.
Getting a job is not as simple and applying to the first advert you come across.
It requires you to have a good working knowledge of the tourism industry, and understanding trends, how tours work, and what training programs there are. You need to know how to hone the skills you have and use them to find the most appropriate work. You also need to know about work permits, visa policies, and how to get jobs working for various international agencies.
Starting out is always hard, but according to Lucian Reed-Drake, a tour manager with over 2 years of experience, the best thing to do is start with the European circuit if you are interested in international jobs.
He says, “Most people regard the European circuit as the teething process for any aspiring tour guide, and once you have more experience you can move onto the higher paying jobs at places like Trafalgar Tours or with other global tour companies. You can also hire out your services on a freelance basis. The Contiki and Busabout tours are the best for European coach circuit and are lots of fun. They cater for guests between 18 and 35 basically give you a crash course in tour guiding, while you get to experience the tour first hand. There are impromptu turns at doing narration and you get very little sleep. They are always looking for Drivers, Tour Managers, Mobile Cooks and On-Site Reps.”
Tour Guide Training
Tour guide training is often offered on the job, or like Mr Reed-Drake mentioned above, as a boot camp style pre-season tour where tour guides go on a tour themselves to see what it is like, learn about the sights and locations they visit and enjoy all sorts of training sessions as they travel. Training is also offered through various organizations and tour guiding associations where accredited coaches will hold short courses about the tour guiding business. Many consider it better to have formal training of this kind because you are better prepared for the tours and stand a better chance of being promoted to a tour director. You are taught various procedures and gain vital knowledge that will help you to do your job better.
Finding Tour Guide Companies and Escort Agencies
Once you are ready to apply for jobs, you have to first find out where to apply. Who are the major tour operators and escort companies? Where do I find job listings? Well, many of the job openings are listed right here on JobMonkey in our Jobs Center. Here you can register as a job seeker and search for relevant companies or find specific job openings. There are over 600 tour companies in North America, and another good way of finding them is to approach local travel and tourism organizations in each state. To find overseas jobs, the internet is the best place to start, but you can also email those country’s tourism departments to get a list of accredited tour operators. Travel agencies usually also have pamphlets and brochures for tour companies that you can collect.
Once you have been trained and want to start finding work, marketing yourself is of utmost importance. If you do not know how to market your services and cannot adequately market your skills to prospective employers, then you may as well find another career. Part of leading tours is just that – being a leader. This is what companies want to see, is how you lead and how you present yourself to them, whether it is on your resume or in your interview. You have to impress them!
Going for an Interview
Once you have landed that interview with a tour company, you have to make the most of it. Researching the company is critical. This is professional and shows that you have an interest in them. Being confident and friendly is also key, as this will be one of the reasons that you are hired. Here are some possible interview questions that you might be asked when applying to be a tour director or land tour guide:
- How do you get keep people’s attention?
- Tell us about yourself?
- What do you feel is the hardest part of being a tour guide?
- What is your greatest weakness in life?
- Why is background knowledge important as a tour guide?
- Why did you want to interview with us?
- What is not on your resume that you think we should know about you?
- Describe your ideal tour.
- Why should we have a tour guide at all?
- What other customer facing positions have you had?
Developing Your Skills
While you are looking for work, or even once you have been hired, you should continue to develop your skills. Tour guides that offer unique skills are more sought after and receive higher pay. So, learn a new language, undertake a new activity, take up an old sport that you loved and work at it. These skills and talents could one way lead to better tour guide jobs. You might go from being a step on tour guide in New York, to working a summer job in Alaska. The possibilities are endless.
The next few sections will explain in more detail how you can go about getting a land tour job or find work as a tour director or escort. Various resources are also provided for tour guide schools and various tour guide companies that you can join.