While working as a tour escort is exciting, the high energy level required by the job may lead to burnout within a few years; after several seasons traveling, it’s not uncommon for escorts and guides to switch to other work. Experience as a tour guide assures future employers that you have good organizational, speaking, and public relations skills, qualities that are helpful in almost any occupation. Some use their experience and considerable connections with travel industry insiders to move into management. Positions can include those with travel agencies and tour companies. Some enterprising souls even start up their own travel-related companies.
Most non-tour guide positions at tour companies are in one of two areas: reservations/sales and operations.
Operations oversees all aspects of putting on the tours themselves, including finding accommodations, training bus drivers and guides, and scheduling all elements of the tours.
Here’s an account of one former guide’s first steps in furthering her career path. She now works as an operations manager for a large tour operator:
"Tour guiding was so hectic that I just had no time to myself, plus I never knew what my schedule would be like more than three weeks into the future. Finally, I gave up tour guiding and became a tour development manager, which means I investigated sites for future tours, wrote driver’s instructions, and basically set up tours from the ground up. This was ideal because I still got to travel, but I didn’t have to take care of tour groups and I spent a lot more time at home. Now I’m an operations manager, in charge of all of our tour guides and arrangements. I still get to travel some, but I spend most of my time in the office."
The reservations and sales departments make the reservations for the company’s customers, take calls from travel agents, manage inventory, make sure there’s plenty of space on the tours, and communicate regularly with the operations department about customer demand. Of course, many tour companies are quite small, and only a few employees may be handling all or a combination of the above duties.