How To Become A Tour Guide

Wondering how to become a tour guide? Are you energetic? Do you love to travel? Will people follow you anywhere? Are you the person everyone calls when they need suggestions about where to go? If so, you possibly tour guide material. Can you imagine being paid to go traipsing around the streets of the city doing tours? If you can, read on. There's more you need to know about becoming a tour guide.

It may seem like a tour guide career is all play and no work, but there is work involved. Not only do you have to know the area like the back of your hand, you will be responsible for getting a diverse group of people from point A to point B in X amount of time. That takes planning. These eleven steps will show you how to become a tour guide in a flash. Get out those comfy shoes and hit the trail.

  1. Become a “wealth of information.” Having personal knowledge of a site is better than hearsay when making recommendations.
  2. Where's the heat? Know the trendy hot spots in your area and surrounding areas. Ask other guides, too.
  3. Have something for everyone. Don’t just cater to the adults; know where children, tweens and teens might enjoy going.
  4. Stay in the know. Have a list of current events going on–concerts, fairs, rodeos or even the circus. You should be a walking encyclopedia of entertainment.
  5. Don’t forget the shopping. What tourist won't want to hit the shops? Know where the "bargains in the basement" are and the haute couture.
  6. Formal training is not mandatory. Tour guide school is an option and it certainly wouldn't hurt to have it under your belt. It may even set you apart from the rest.
  7. Keep abreast of the industry. Subscribe to newsletters and tour guide publications. Make sure you check out the World Federation of Tour Guide Associations.
  8. Don't forget the little guys. When seeking employment, apply at the large tour guide companies. Don't forget to connect with hotels, event planners and the city’s events department. You may have to consider the smaller tour guide companies to get started.
  9. Leave no stone unturned. While looking for tour guide positions, think outside the box. Check out large corporations that relocate employees. They may need the services of a personal tour guide for the company.  
  10. Become an independent tour guide. The larger travel agencies and tour companies hire "tour escorts" to travel with a group of tourist and manage the group's activities. Large tour companies and travel agencies also hire independent tour escorts to creatively put together and promote travel packages. This would be a great fit if you like the idea of working on your own, but still have the drawing power of a big company name backing you. As an independent, you are considered an independent contractor, not an employee of the company. You will be responsible for your own medical insurance unless you can negotiate this perk. The beauty of being an independent tour guide is that you can take as many or as few tours as you like. This would be determined at the time you sign a contract. You may be asked to sign an exclusivity contract, which would prohibit you working with other travel companies or travel agencies. Weigh your options carefully. 
  11. Create your own destiny. Self-employment may be the road to take. Creating your own company is relatively easy. One option is to become a sole proprietor and work from home. Your overhead would be low–a phone, a computer and 500 glorious, colorful brochures is all you need to get your show on the road.
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