Not having much luck with tour guide hiring? Is your inbox full of resumes from applicants who seem like they’re just looking for a free ticket to your destination? Or do you often find yourself back at square one because your new hires tend to quit as soon as a better gig comes along?
Luck might not have anything to do with it; perhaps it’s all in your tour guide job description. You see, hiring great tour guides starts with attracting great tour guides.
If your job posting places too much emphasis on the opportunity to “travel for a living,” you could end up with guides who act more like guests. Whereas, if you include a super long list of responsibilities, you might turn away too many candidates, including the best of the best, because they think, “not enough tips can pay me to do all that.”
So, how do you write a tour guide job description that boosts your response quality?
We’ll walk you through the steps!
Not sure what to ask for the interview either? Grab our handy list of 147 questions for tour guides (with a bonus evaluation form)!
How to write a tour guide job description
Before writing a tour guide job description, it’s a good idea to brainstorm initial questions an applicant may have about the role. Answering these upfront will give them everything they need to know before applying while allowing them to ask more in-depth questions at the interview. That way, if they end up accepting the offer, it’ll be an informed decision.
Here are some examples:
- Is the job full-time, part-time, or seasonal?
- What’s the wage? Will I get tips?
- Is it okay if I have no tour guide work experience?
- What types of tours will I get to lead?
- What will a typical work day look like for me?
- Will I need to do anything else on top of guiding?
- What skills do I need to be successful in this role?
- What language(s) do I have to speak fluently?
- Do I need to have any tour guide certifications?
- Is there an opportunity for advancement?
- Will you pay for tour guide training programs?
- Why should I guide for your tour company?
- How do I apply?
Once you have a good list, you can work these answers into your tour guide job description by following these steps:
1. Pick the right job title
As guides scroll through listings, the first thing that’ll stand out to them is the job title. While it’s tempting to put something creative here, like “Experience Extraordinaire” or “[Insert city] Interpreter” or “Adventure Guru,” stick with industry terms because that’s what they’ll use in their job search. In other words, treat your job title like a keyword.
You can still set your job listing apart by including your niche. Instead of simply posting “Tour Guide,” be more specific by writing “Ghost Tour Guide” or “Chocolate Tasting Tour Guide” or “Safari Tour Guide.” This will also help narrow down applicants by attracting those who love spooky stories, have a sweet tooth, or care about wildlife conservation.
2. Put salary information
The second thing most guides will look for in a job posting is the pay and hours of work. Since money is often a taboo topic, many companies avoid including the wage in the job listing, preferring to disclose this information in the offer or if asked in the interview.
But here’s why you should be transparent. According to Undercover Recruiter, top candidates are selective in their job search, so compensation can make the job more attractive, giving them a compelling reason to spend time applying for the position.
However, if you’re concerned the pay isn’t impressive enough, you can sweeten the deal by highlighting the job perks, such as a flexible schedule, paid vacation, average tips, fun team events, free lunches, room and board, or other seasonal employee benefits.
3. Start with a hook
Your first sentence has got to be attention-grabbing. The goal is to inspire a tour guide to apply right away by speaking to what they desire most out of a job. Is it getting the chance to act out different characters? Spend time on the water every day? Brag about the history of their city? Or make the mountains their office?
Putting a number one benefit can help reel them in and, better yet, retain them once hired because they’ll never forget why they applied in the first place. So think of something that makes being a tour guide for your company the best job in the world, even when they have to deal with annoying tourists.
The best way to write a hook is to either frame it as a question like, “Do you know all the best places to eat in Vancouver?” Or paint a picture, “Imagine starting work every morning, feeling the ocean breeze on your face, knowing you’ll get to see a whale today.”
4. Market your tour company
When writing a tour guide job description, a common misconception is that it’s all about making candidates consider why they’d be right for the position. While that’s significant, it’s also important to emphasize why your tour company is a great place to work.
After all, what’s going to motivate a tour guide to apply? An overwhelming list of duties they can start dreading already? Or knowing they’ll get the chance to work for an awesome tour company they can be proud to tell people about? It’s a no-brainer!
So if you want to make a tour guide excited to join your team, tell them a bit more about your tour company by sharing:
- The kinds of tours you offer
- Where you take guests (points of interest)
- Your passions and core values
- How you make your destination a better place
5. Give a brief overview
After introducing your company, explain how they’ll fit into the picture as a tour guide. This section of the tour guide job description is usually one to four sentences long, which focuses mainly on your overall company objective and what part the tour guide will play.
Instead of getting right into the day-to-day, answer one of the following questions:
- How will the tour guide contribute to the guest experience?
- What power will they have representing your destination?
- How will they directly influence tourism in a good way?
If you focus more on the impact than the work itself, you’ll naturally create meaning and purpose behind the role of a tour guide, and ultimately, encourage those who align with your mission to apply.
6. List tour guide job responsibilities
Of course, a tour guide will still want to know what a typical workday will look like for them. Not only does it inform them about the activities you expect them to perform so they can decide if they’re competent, but it also gives them an idea of whether they’ll enjoy their everyday tasks.
But don’t just write a long, boring list. Similar to the job overview, you should angle the responsibilities to be outcome-oriented. That way, you show significance behind the efforts, helping to fuel an enthusiastic mindset from the get-go.
See the difference?
- Greet and welcome tour groups
- Greet tour groups to make them feel welcome
Also, try sticking with five to eight key responsibilities of a tour guide by order of importance to keep the list concise and easy to scan.
7. Include tour guide work experience
One thing you’ll want to remember when detailing your top 10 characteristics of a great tour guide is that unicorns don’t exist. In fact, the more indispensable requirements you list, the fewer applications you’ll get from underrepresented talent. For instance, women typically won’t apply for a job unless they’re 100% qualified.
So, stay realistic. Instead of conjuring up a dream tour guide, think of the skill requirements more as nice-to-haves and only list the ones that matter most to you. That is unless you need specific certifications or licenses. Then, of course, include that.
This is also the perfect opportunity to emphasize growth. If you accept entry-level guides, reassure them that you provide on-the-job training. And if you’re looking for someone with more experience, share how you can support taking them to the next level.
8. Spell out the next steps
Tour guides can easily navigate through a city, but they might get a little lost on what to do next in the application process if you don’t make it straightforward for them.
So make sure to detail:
- What you expect: a resume, cover letter, and proof of certification
- How to apply: phone, email, or in-person
- Who to address: yourself or a hiring manager
- When to submit: a deadline to create urgency
What is a good tour guide job description?
Before we dive into an example, here are a few tips to keep in mind for writing a better tour guide job description:
- Make it easy to read: one big blob of text will turn away candidates right away. Break it up into headings, short paragraphs, and lists
- Write in the second person: use the pronoun “you” to help tour guides see themselves in the role when reading the job description
- Avoid superlatives: remove gender bias by steering clear of over-the-top language, like “rock star,” “ninja,” or “world-class”
- Get another pair of eyes: ask one of your current guides to review the description and give their input as they know the job to a tee
Okay, now let’s see everything come together!
Snorkel Tour Guide
Can you imagine swimming with thousands of leopard sharks daily? Join Salty Stew’s Adventures and lead snorkel tours in the La Jolla Shores of San Diego during leopard shark season from June to September. You might even get to name a few pups!
Operating for over 20 years, Salty Stew’s Adventures has been exploring the rocky reefs, underwater canyons, and magical sea caves of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve and Underwater Park with guests from all over the world by providing sea kayak tours, snorkel tours, and rentals.
Made up of passionate ocean advocates, we are committed to preserving the local coastal environment and educating visitors about California marine life. As a Snorkel Tour Guide, you’ll get the unique opportunity to inspire people to care about shark conservation as they encounter the friendliest sharks of the sea on our Leopard Shark Snorkel Tour.
What you’ll do:
- Give a brief lesson about the migration patterns and breeding behavior of leopard sharks to emphasize their importance in the ecosystem
- Teach guests the fundamentals of snorkeling to ensure they have a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable time
- Contribute to our positive reviews by showing the best snorkeling spots and pointing out various species of reef fish
- Encourage guests to participate in protecting the new home of leopard shark pups by collecting any trash they see
- Support monitoring and conservation efforts by writing a daily report about your observations
Who you are:
- An outdoor enthusiast with interest in marine life
- A strong swimmer who’s comfortable in the ocean (lifeguard experience is a plus!)
- Enthusiastic, engaging, and friendly
- Confident in public speaking and customer service
- Willing to work weekends and holidays
- Has CPR and First Aid certification
Why work for us:
- Keep 100% of your tips on top of your wage
- Get on-the-job training with the opportunity to lead advanced kayak and snorkel tours as you gain more experience
- Hang out with the team at Bart’s Pub every Monday night for Music Bingo (wings are on us!)
- Explore the La Jolla coast in your free time with a 50% discount on our snorkel, kayak, and SUP board rentals
8 hour shifts, weekends
How to apply:
If you want to join a tight-knit team of ocean lovers, please send your resume and cover letter to Daryl Johnson at email@example.com before April 1st.
Where to put the tour guide job posting
Okay, your tour guide job description is ready to go. You’ve read it out loud, passed it through a spell check, and even had one of your tour guides give it a once-over. Now what? Do you post it on every job board to get as many bites as possible? That’s probably not the best idea.
To save yourself time — and get more intentional responses — first ask yourself the following questions:
- Where does the industry have the most luck? (You can ask fellow tour operators in the Tourpreneur Facebook Group for advice)
- What places have you found success with candidates before?
- Where does your ideal tour guide hang out online?
- Do you have the budget to pay for a premium posting?
Here are some ideas if you need a little help:
If you’re looking for…
- The most responses: try the main job listing sites, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Workopolis, and even Craigslist
- Multilingual speakers: target travelers from other countries who want to work overseas on sites like GoAbroad, Travel Massive, and Easy Expat (these are also great sites if you’re specifically looking for fluent English speakers)
- The best in class: connect with TripSchool or International Tour Management Institute for graduates who are trained and ready to put their learnings into action
- Natural entertainers: reach out to local community theatres, improv classes, comedy clubs, or even post a job on Playbill
- Seasonal guides: go for the high school or college crowd by asking if you can put up a job flyer on campus bulletin boards or nearby coffee shops
- Passionate hobbyists: pay someone to do what they love by dropping a comment in local Facebook groups that are relevant to your niche (with permission)
Crafting a compelling tour guide job description is just the first step. What comes next is the hiring process. Whether you conduct a phone screening or jump right to the in-person interview, you’ll need to brainstorm the best questions to help you widdle down your top candidates for the perfect fit.