Tours are a niche market but one that is growing at a surprising rate. This, of course, means that the number of tour guide jobs is on the increase too. Previously tours were mainly for backpackers and older walking groups but now have become more popular amongst the general holidaying population. As people move away from traditional holidays they are going for more excitement and adventure and for a tour guide to show them the way.
Tour guide jobs can be the most enjoyable but also the most challenging in the travel industry. Tours are popular all over the world, so wherever you want to go there are options available. There are so many different variations in tours that there is a lot to consider when going down the route of tour guide – the type of tour, rural or city, length and client base. Tours can range from day tours of a European city, cultural or wine tours lasting a week, whistle-stop coach tours of Europe to hiking tours in mountains or by overland jeep in a desert. The skills required can be very different as for some tours you may be leading a large group around a city over a number of days but in a contained area but for other tours you may need specific skills and previous experience eg for trekking through a jungle or a mountain expedition in basic conditions over a number of weeks or months.
Your main job as a tour guide is to organise and accompany groups of holiday makers, your client, on tours to a variety of locations, at home or overseas. You will need to ensure all travel, accommodation and catering arrangements are in place so that things run smoothly from start to finish, as well as being the tour guide throughout and providing practical support. You will need to be a certain type of person, confident in your own abilities and a good decision-maker. You will need to be calm, flexible, resourceful and organised and happy to work long hours. You’ll need great people and leadership skills, tour companies expect their staff to work to a high standard so that clients have such an enjoyable time that they will get repeat business and spread the word. Any extra specialisms such as knowledge of a foreign language, first aid, experience of driving abroad or commercial vehicles or specific country or area knowledge will be a bonus and make your life much easier. You need to be able to respond to problems that occur in a calm and organised way as you could be dealing with lost baggage, unexpected transport delays, stolen property or even serious illness. The job of a tour guide is exhausting but very rewarding and if you want to combine your love of travel and adventure with your great people skills, then this a career to consider. Then the world is your oyster.