A travel guide uses leads a group of tourists to and from various destinations while taking care of the logistics such as hotel accommodations, meals, tours, transportation, and itinerary. When at each destination, this guide may work with local guides to ensure their group receives the best cultural and historical information possible.
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How to Become a Travel Guide
Step 1: Get Educated
Though an education is not mandatory to become a travel guide, O*NET OnLine reports that most travel guides had some college credit but had yet to earn a degree. Beneficial college courses that directly relate to this profession are those in travel, hospitality, and business.
Step 2: Gain Experience
Employers may also view on-the-job experience as valuable as an education if you are very experienced in a related career. For example, travel agents handle book travel, answer travel-related questions, and handle customer’s travel logistics every day. This experience translates very well for those that wish to become travel guides.
Step 3: On-the-Job Training
Once employed, you may receive one to two years of on-the-job training under more experienced travel guides. Tourism companies may even have recognized apprenticeship programs you can apply for. Though you may be paid as an apprentice, you may not earn as high a salary until you are fully trained however. During your training, your customer service, communication, organization, listening, and attention-to-detail skills will be put to the test as an employer must be confident in your ability to work independently and make smart decisions.
Step 4: Lead your First Group
Once you are fully trained and your employer is confident in your ability to lead with little support, you are ready to take your first group of travels on your own. You will assist your group of travels from the beginning of their travels until the end and ensure they a wonderful, memorable experience. Word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews of travel services is important in this industry, so ensuring you receive quality reviews that will draw more customers is vital.
Job Description of a Tour Guide
Travel guides plan, sell, and arrange tours for groups or individuals that are normally at long distances from their customer’s homes. These guides organize full itineraries to include recreational activities and events and provide that information to their customers. They are knowledgable of the geography of the destinations and plan travel routes that best accommodate the group. They even consider how to handle an emergency should it occur by taking routes where medical facilities may be available if necessary.
These professionals also handle the group’s transportation, accommodations, and even meals and more often than not travels with the group and stays in the same accommodations. They also solve any problems that may arise both before and during the tour and make sure the clients are satisfied and taken care of throughout their travels, especially those individuals with special needs. They handle stressful situations well and are flexible and professional at all times. After the group’s travel experience has ended they may also request feedback and improve their services based on that feedback.
Free Teacher and Student Resources
The TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) International Association has a free lesson plan: Let’s take a trip (link opens in a new tab). This lesson plan helps students provide educational information about objects they bring in for a show and tell.
Tour Guide Video Career Transcript
Meeting new people, sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for a place, and being on the go– tour guides and travel guides introduce groups and individuals to places of interest and travel experiences. Tour guides escort people on sightseeing tours, cruises, or through public buildings, art galleries, or industrial sites. They describe points of interest and respond to questions. Many tour guides research topics related to their site such as history, art, or corporate culture.
Guides often plan commentary or activities for tours for audiences of all ages. Tour guides greet and register visitors, provide printed or digital information, and often collect fees and tickets. Travel guides plan and operate long-distance tours and expeditions for clients. They organize itineraries, research local attractions, and make arrangements for accommodations, dining, and access to medical care. They often lead groups to tour site locations and describe them in depth. Typically, they ensure travelers’ needs are met, pay the bills on-site, and handle all paperwork. Some travel guides may fly airplanes or drive vehicles to tour sites, set up camp, and prepare meals.
Some also instruct travelers, for example teaching wilderness survival skills. Skills in public speaking and customer service are essential, as is the ability to solve problems as they come up. Guides are typically responsible for the safety of groups, and may provide first aid or handle emergencies. Education qualifications vary significantly; tour and travel guides may need to be bilingual, have relevant specialized skills, a related degree or work experience. Many employers provide on-the-job training.
National Center for O*NET Development. 39-7012.00. O*NET OnLine. This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA. RethinkOldSchool, Inc. has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.