Freelance Tour Guide Jobs
As a freelance guide you can work in just about any field you feel you are comfortable in. You do not need a specific designation like water guide, land guide, step-on guide or sightseeing guide. If you have experience in a field, and know how to do it, you can do it as a freelance guide.
The one thing that you will have to know is that you cannot just become a freelancer. Most guides work for years to make the contacts they need to become successful, and the same goes for the freelancers in the field.
To be a truly successful freelance tour guide you need to have worked in the field, made friends and networked to build up a relationship with the locals in the areas you will be working, and with the tour companies that will eventually be hiring you. As a freelancer you do not need to work for tour companies. You can get your own clients, but this is much harder.
As a freelance guide you are responsible for anything and everything that the tour entails. If you are going to work for yourself you need to know the inner workings of just about every part of a tour. That means that you are the tour guide, the tour escort, the tour manager and the operations manager. Your job will start at the top, with the job of the operations manager, planning the tours, calling up contacts, visiting sites, and putting together the itinerary.
You will then have to market the tours you want to offer. You can do this in many different ways, but the most effective is through a travel agent. Your role will then become the tour guide, where you will sell the package and head up the tour. This includes the planning of the supplies you are going to need, the equipment you will need on activities, like life jackets and canoes or kayaks on rivers, rope for mountain climbing and so on. You will also need to make sure that you take a high quality camera with you, as your group may want to purchase pictures that you have taken.
If you are going to work as a freelancer for a company you will have fewer responsibilities. All of the planning and selling is left up to the tour company, and they will then call you up when they need you to step onto a tour that they do not have a regular tour guide for. Normally this is a company that you have worked with before, as they do not usually hire just anyone claiming to be a freelance guide.
Most of the freelance tour guides around these days have spent their early years as permanent tour guides for tour companies. This is the best way to start out, as you will make a name for yourself and create a network that you can tap into when you become a freelancer. This is the direction most guides want to go, as they have more flexibility and can charge more, but it is also beneficial for tour companies. It means that they don’t have to pay someone a full time salary for a job that is sporadic. The will only pay you on a per tour basis when they need your specific skill set.
You will need to be a fully trained tour guide with plenty of experience, have first aid training, and understand how the travel and tourism industry works. The freelancer is an experienced tour guide, and not a newbie.
Quick Fact: A freelance tour guide needs to have started out as a permanent tour guide working for a tour company.
Training and Degrees
While most tour companies want to know you before they hire you as a freelance tour guide, if you have a proven track record and can show that you have what it takes, you may just land your first job as a freelance tour guide. You will want to make sure that you know the areas that are being offered in different company’s tour packages, although these are generally similar within a city.
You will need to be a good communicator, enjoy people’s company, and be willing to help your clients whenever they need it, so it is also beneficial to have a degree in human resources, hospitality, and social science. You can also take your learning further with more specific courses on culture like the Mayans or Egyptians, for example, if you plan to work specifically that field.
Salary & Benefits
When it comes to benefits the freelancer loses out in a big way. You are not a permanent employee of any company, so you will not be offered any type of health insurance, pension or dental. If you are looking for this type of benefit and still want to work as a freelancer, you will have to make sure that your fee covers these costs.
If you are working as a freelancer for a tour company you will get free food and drinks and travel to and from the destination is free. As an added bonus, some companies will offer free travel if you need to meet up with the tour group in another country – accommodation is usually free too. You also get to meet new people daily, which is why most of the tour guides start out in this business to begin with.
Being a freelance tour guide is a great way to make up your own timetable. You work to your hours, and your terms, but there is also a lot of work involved.
- As a freelance guide you do not have to answer to a boss.
- Set your own fee.
- You have flexibility and can settle down with a family.