Tour Directors Interface with a Host of People
What other professionals does a TD meet along the way?
No tour happens in a vacuum. Much behind-the-scenes support helps to make a tour successful. The TD may be the point person, but he or she is not alone in the effort to provide the best experience possible. And at every point of contact, a TD has the opportunity to enhance or detract from the employer tour operator's reputation in the industry. As a team member, TDs promote their employer and represent its interests well, with every contact made.
Who else is there, and how does a TD interface with these people?
Tour operator home office personnel. Someone finds the hotels, arranges for the attractions, signs contracts, negotiates specifics, designs the itinerary, and answers the phone in the middle of the Fourth of July holiday to help handle a crisis. The TD may never meet these people in person, even after years of working for a tour operator. Yet the tour could not happen without this support. Wise TDs cultivate these relationships. If they call the central office with a problem, they also present alternative solutions.
Suppliers. The businesses contracted by the tour operators provide the detail to the tour experience. These include hotels, attractions, national parks, bus/transportation companies, local guides, restaurants, shopkeepers. Each provides an opportunity for a TD to enhance the tour operator's reputation as a good business partner, or damage it. The TD presents the best possible face to guests about each vendor, and never contributes to criticisms. The TD seeks to be "low maintenance," a problem-solver and not a problem-maker for vendors. Buses have been escorted out of national parks by park rangers because the driver and/or TD violated the rules of acceptable behavior. That damages the tour operator's ability to send further buses into the park in the future.
Customs/immigrations officials. Travelers entering and leaving the US must pass through customs and immigration numerous times along the way. TDs can make that experience better or worse by their behavior, and must act in a way that minimizes problems.
Visitors bureaus and local companies. Who better to explain local situations and opportunities than local groups? The TD will often contact visitor's bureaus and local specialists before the tour begins to generate ideas and options. Many bureaus will provide a brief "welcome to our town" greeting as the bus rolls into town, thus giving guests a more personal experience of this location.
Other motorcoach drivers and tour directors. Tours go to the best places, so tour buses congregate at the same places. Other drivers and TDs are a resource to be utilized as information is exchanged. In these encounters, as well, TDs are the face of their company, and add to or detract from the company's image in the field.
People. TDs will find, if they work for a big tour company, that they will encounter past (and future) guests of that company on the road. They will meet local people and other fellow travelers. All of these people are part of the tour experience. Guests on the current tour will notice how a TD treats everyone they meet along the way, and will form an opinion of that tour operator.
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