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Being a Professional Tour Guide Rocks!
And they pay you to do this?
Imagine yourself traveling to interesting places in ... the United States ... Canada ... Central and South America ... Europe ... Africa ... Asia ... Australia. You're on the road a week, two weeks, three weeks. Maybe you're on a bus working for Contiki, maybe you're on a bicycle, maybe you're driving a support van, maybe you're hiking across a glacier in Alaska or Argentina.
Your hotel reservations are already handled and staff members are waiting for you to show up, anxious to make sure your visit is enjoyable. You find that your hotel is comfortable and inviting, your meals are pre-arranged and delicious, your expenses are paid for, and you are traveling with 50 people who have been all over the world and are full of interesting stories.
Are you with us so far?
Now imagine that that is your job, to travel everywhere with these people, to introduce them to the wonders of travel, to inform them about what they see, to solve whatever problems arise, to show them the best of what there is to see and do, and always, always, to provide excellent service.
You are paid to be there, collecting your income from wages, tips, and perhaps commissions. Your lodging, food and admissions are paid for, even your positioning expenses so that you arrive at the point of departure ahead of the guests. And not only are you paid in money, you are rewarded with opportunities to travel, meet interesting people, have new experiences. And all at the most desirable locations.
Tours don't go to the worst spots, they go to the best ones. Tour directors help people's dreams come true, including their own.
You are a tour director, the person at the front of the bus with the microphone, the one who escorts tours longer than a day, moving them from one wonderful place to another through the time span of the tour.
- Or you are a tour leader, bicycling through Provence in France, getting everyone up that last long hill to camp.
- Or you are a tour guide, specializing in one location, perhaps Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado or Acadia National Park in Maine, spending a day at a time with groups and sharing with them the culture, history, and challenges of life in this area, before they move on to another location, and you work with another tour group.
- Or you are a shore excursion guide, showing guests on cruise ships why they should come ashore and enjoy the local culture.
Who are your guests? They may be older than you. The majority of over-the-road tour passengers are past 50. They may be younger. High school and college student tours are a large part of the tour industry. They may come from a foreign country or from this one, and they often have been to many interesting places before they met you. They may be seasoned travelers used to all the ups and downs of travel. They may be first-timers, wondering how they will have their particular interests addressed in a group of 50 people.
And all of them look to you for entertainment, information, organization, and problem-solving. As you might imagine, escorting tours is not all travel and glamour. You are there to care for their every need, answer their every question (more than once usually), and deal with their every emergency. All the while you are performing to the highest standards of excellence, so you will be asked to come back next season and do it again.
Come along and see what the requirements, demands, and rewards are of this challenging and exciting job.
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