s a tour operator, a huge part of your success is the tour guides you hire to represent your tours. It’s a big deal to hire guides that fit the needs of your tours and give your customers an experience that they’ll not soon forget. The guide can make or break your tour, and is the key to good reviews, getting your customers to return year after year, and tell their friends. As a tour and activity operator, finding, training, and keeping an excellent tour guide can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Follow along with tips from each step of the process: Recruitment, the Interview, and Training.
The Job Description - Stand Out as a Great Company to Work For
When you are looking for good team members to join your company, it’s important to start with a great job description. Not only are you looking for a great tour guide, the potential employee is also looking for a great company. You are both choosing each other, and with other job opportunities out there, it’s important to stand out as a company that is great to work for. If your job description is vague and without many details about the job, then a good tour guide will overlook it. Writing the description should include the following information:
- Company Description - Describe your company in a way that a potential employee will want to work for you. Highlight the tours as if you were selling to a potential customer, and share unique information about why your tour company is the best.
- Outline Company Benefits and Perks - Share in the job description any job perks that a tour guide will get by working for you. Do they have access to health benefits? Flexible working hours? Do they get discounts on tours or tour apparel? What about fun team outings? All this information is very helpful to a potential guide, and will encourage the good ones to apply.
- Job Duties and Qualifications - It’s important to outline a good list of the job duties and more importantly what qualifications a guide will need to get the position. This information will rule out any candidates that do not qualify, and be transparent to an interested tour guide. The duties should also include typical working hours.
- How to apply - Make sure you include within the job description what the applicant needs to do to apply for the job, and what they need to include with their application such a cover letter, resume, or online application. This will ensure that potential candidates will follow the proper steps and eliminate the need to additional questions.
Post the Position where your Ideal guide will see it
When posting your job openings, decide first what kind of guide you want. Do you want a local that knows the area well, and can represent your tour well? Do you want to open it up to the best of the best guides who may or may not be in your area, but have the experience as a top quality guide? In any case, it is best to post in many different outlets to give yourself a large pool of applicants to choose from.
- Post your job on the big sites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and CareerBuilder. Many job applicants use these sites as a first stop when looking for a job.
- Post your site on Tour specific sites such as Travel Massive. These sites cater to tour guides that are looking for a job in adventure and travel. Depending on your needs, this may be a good spot to find motivated candidates.
- Post on your website and social media outlets. If you want to keep things more personal and local, then adding the job description on your own website and social media will be a great way to attract a potential guide. This could lead to your friends, family and customers to leading an excellent tour guide your way.
Spend the time to qualify your applicants and narrow the list down to a list of candidates that you want to interview. The interview is where you get a good first impression of your candidate and learn about their personality and experience. You can decide to first do a phone interview before a face to face as this could be a good way to decide if you want to see the candidate in person. Before the interview, it’s important to plan the flow of how you want to time to go. Include a list of questions that you want to ask, but also be flexible to allow the candidate to make the best expression. Make a list of the qualities you want in a tour guide, and then qualify each candidate based on these qualities. If unsure what a good tour guide looks like, here's a start on essential traits:
- Passion. Look for someone with a passion for the position. A good tour guide must love meeting new people, the area, and the tour.
- Communication. A main qualification is that the tour guide has great communication skills. They will be spending a lot of time during the tour talking and giving your customers a great experience. They should have good story telling skills, and it may be a great time to ask the candidate to share a past experience on a tour or a personal experience from a tour. The interview will be a key time to see how a guide communicates and show their personality.
- Sense of Humor. You want a tour guide that can engage your customers in a way that makes then smile and laugh. A sense of humor is important not only to delight your customers but also to be able to handle challenging situations during the tour.
- Responsible and Punctual. Of course, these qualities are crucial when you are counting on a guide to run your tours. Customers have paid for your tour and if a guide doesn’t show up or be on time, it will be detrimental to your tour business.
Congratulations. You’ve found the perfect tour guide to represent your business, and now you have the big task to train the guide to run the tours to your expectations. The training period shouldn’t be rushed, so give yourself plenty of time to get the guide up to speed. The onboarding process should include the following steps.
- Welcome and Meet & Greet - The first day at a job can be intimidating. Help the new hire feel comfortable by giving them a nice welcome including a tour of the office, building, or grounds. Be sure to introduce him/her to all staff members, too. Request that experienced tour guides be available on this day to meet the new guide and answer any questions he/she may have.
- Go on the Tour - a great first introduction for the new guide is to send them on a tour as if they were a customer. This will give them a great view to see the tour as a customer and allow them to understand the flow of the tour from the experienced guide.
- Shadow an Experienced Guide - Shadowing an experienced guide on a tour will be paramount in training the tour guide. This time will give the new hire a chance to learn from a seasoned tour guide, and listen to their script and get a feel for for flow of the tour. It’ll also give them an opportunity to see how the guide handles different situations from the group or issues that comes up while on the tour.
- Let them Run a Tour with Supervision - After a few shadow tours, it’s time to let the new tour guide run a tour with an experienced guide with them. This will allow the new guide to go through the script, lead the entire tour, but also get feedback from their colleague so they can continue to improve and get better.
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Tour guides are your bread and butter of your business, so finding the right ones that will be a great asset to your operation is a big deal. It's also important to retain your guides throughout the year, and a great step is to organize and manage your team easily. Using a booking system that has a great guide management system is key. BookingCentral offers this feature and allows you to set up each guide and assign them to a tour. In addition, you can set up an alert via text or email that a guide will get when they are booked for a tour.