Every season, a tour operators sets out to find a tour guide who will be a perfect fit for their business. There are lots of applicants out there — because travel is trending and everyone is catching the wanderlust bug — so why wouldn’t someone look for a way to get paid to travel?
But you shouldn’t just be a tour guide because you have a passion for travel…and only travel (though it is one of the points listed below). You want to be passionate about everything else that comes with the job.
A tour guide is the face of a tour business; they have the most interaction with guests. If you love what you do, you’ll strive to be the best tour guide possible. When you’re a tour guide who cares, guests will talk about the exceptional experience for weeks — but if you show up with a ho-hum attitude, don’t be surprised if there’s an outpouring of bad reviews.
As you’re trying to figure out if you have all the right tour guide qualifications, remember that passion is essential. We’ve compiled a list of 6 passions a tour guide should have. Keep these in mind before applying for a job.
1. Passion for travel
Of course, having a passion for travel is a given for tour guides. There’s an exciting world to explore, and they’re out exploring it more.
You may want to hike the tallest Canadian Rockies, eat the best Mexican tacos, and cycle along the Amsterdam canals. An office job doesn’t cut it as your ideal work environment.
In a tour guide position, you’ll have the opportunity to satisfy your adventure cravings daily. Though it’s still a job — and there are bound to be not-so-glamorous moments — you’ll lead the tour with enthusiasm because you’ll be grateful for the opportunity to live and work in a sought-after destination.
2. Passion for people
Tour guides are around and in front of a group of people every single day. It’s an excellent job for someone who loves being surrounded by others. So hermits need not apply — not joking.
We’re not saying the job is extrovert exclusive. Yes, your should have funny tour guide jokes and a charismatic personality. But it’s so much more than that — having a passion for people means having a desire to connect.
During the season, many new faces will arrive. You must love meeting new people; introductions shouldn’t become tiresome after awhile.
Every group coming through is an opportunity to get to know someone new. So you will want to ask questions and remember names because the connections you make is one of the best parts of the job.
3. Passion for learning
No one is an expert in their field from the get-go. Even if you have years of tour guide work experience, working for a new tour operator business will come with a bit of learning.
You’ll have to learn about the location — getting around, fun facts, cultural customs, and secret spots. And you’ll have to learn about the tour business — like how to use an online booking system.
If you aren’t willing to learn, you won’t be a good fit for any operation. You’ll likely work with a talented team who’s there for each other. When something breaks down, all hands are on deck. When someone calls in sick, another teammate takes over their responsibilities.
It doesn’t matter if your designated role is leading tours. As a passionate lifetime learner, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with other areas of the business so you can assist when necessary…which brings us to my next point.
4. Passion for the tourism industry
Another season doesn’t mean another job — at least not for a passionate tour guide. The position shouldn’t be playtime in your twenties. No, you should see it as an opportunity to advance your career in the tourism industry.
Maybe you want to become tour manager one day. Or maybe you want to run a tour business of their own. Whatever the case, you’ll be showing up to work on time, going above and beyond your expected duties and doing everything you can to impress guests.
5. Passion for serving
Tours aren’t designed as a fun vacation for tour guides. Yes, you can enjoy yourself on the job because you love what you do, but the tour isn’t for you, it’s for guests.
For example, while on a hiking tour, if a rare bird is spotted ahead on the trail, you shouldn’t be the first one to run up and snap a photo. Instead, you should point it out to the group, walk up slowly and make sure everyone has a chance to see it.
When someone has a passion for serving, they put others above themselves. You’ll want to make sure your guests are having the best time.
So you’ll give tips, share advice, answer questions and accept requests — like stopping at the gelato store for a local treat. Because for you, it’s more rewarding to witness others fall in love with a destination.
6. Passion for community
You may want to find a local tour guide job. You’ll know the best watering holes, have the mountain biking trail map memorized and might already be friends with the baker down the street. Showing off the greatness of your home will come naturally.
Working somewhere across the world means you won’t have the same background that bonds you to the community. But that’s okay! People move all the time and make new places home.
When someone is passionate about community, it doesn’t matter whether they were born there, they’ll get to know the area like a local anyway. And they’ll do that by not sticking around the tourist hotspots.
A place is more than its 700-year-old clock tower or outstanding views of a jagged mountain range. It’s also about the people. You understands this and make sure to know the people as much as the place.
If there’s a centennial parade, you’ll be throwing candy off the float. If the high school baseball team makes the finals, you’ll be in the bleachers cheering. So you’ll have interesting stories to tell on tour because you’ve experienced everything the area has to offer.
When a tour operators is looking to hire a tour guide who has a passion for travel and all of the above, you’ll stand out. Start searching for a job in your local neighbourhood and then expand your search elsewhere. A tour guide job might be just for you.