Be a tourist guide

Gauri Chhabra
If there is Heaven on earth, it is here, it is here,it is here…
This oft quoted sobriquet for the vale of Kashmir has made it one of the most sought after tourist destinations. And with it flows the career it harnesses and heightens- that of a tourist guide.The opening up of the skies to private airlines and their emerging tie-ups with foreign airlines has removed bottlenecks in the transport and communication network resulting in easy flow of domestic and foreign tourists in the country. Since this is a new area of employment, not many qualified and experienced people are available and the promotion prospects are also very bright and rapid. After a few years of experience, one can also start his own business by handling all travel requirements of a client and gradually building up business, taking on additional employees.
Eligibility and Skillset:
For those who have a special place in their heart for their hometown and the surrounding area, and get great enjoyment from showing friends and family all the amazing sights it has to offer, a career as a travel tour guide could well be the ideal way to turn a pastime into a fruitful career.
A tour Guide is an agent hired to travel with a tour group who provides assistance and historical, cultural and contemporary information on the place of the tour; religious sites, historical sites, museums, landscapes and any other sites which attracts visitors.
Tour guides can be independent, “freelance” tour guides – often having their own brochures, online travel guides, iPhone apps, or other features to highlight their expertise. Otherwise, guides can align themselves or become an employee of another organization or official tourism board.
Tour guides are expected to be very customer service oriented. They are expected to be able to speak in the language that the tour group wants him to speak in, must be able to hear the tourists no matter how soft they speak and must be able to constantly catch the attention of the tour group and can assist them in any way from carrying luggage and running other errands as well.
A tour guide sometimes may also have to help plan the product, which in this case is the tour itself. They are also the ones tasked with paperwork related to the tour before and after. A tour guide’s schedule calendar can be very random, after all tourism isn’t only active in the summer – even in destinations with year-round tourism, the offerings can vary per season.
The good news is that tour guides get most of their training on the job, which means there aren’t many formal education requirements or other standards that must be met before employers will even consider hiring.
Of course, having broad knowledge of local history and attractions is a decided plus and, although usually not necessary, a background in theater or entertainment, or experience in teaching can also help greatly toward getting a first interview.
Part-time or occasional travel gigs also make this an excellent way to supplement a full-time job or as extra income for retirees. That having been said, there are some definite skills required to be a good travel guide, the chief one being excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
Career Pathway:
First, you have to be educated on the history of the places you’d like to be a guide of, either on your own or at a Certified School for Tour Guides which is more recommended since you’ll get a certificate which will help you land that job. Certifications vary per country – if the country does have a certification, it is recommended to try and get it. Then it’s off to the tour company for the interviews. The points that you have to say and prove to your interviewer are:
* You have good people skills
* You are knowledgeable of the history of many places and can research quickly when assigned on a new tourist spot
* You have a flexible schedule and can work at any given time except on holidays.
Try to be enthusiastic and confident when speaking with the interviewer as well as if talking to a respected friend. Of course, if you choose to freelance, you can skip the interviewing process, but then you’ll need to work on your marketing skills in order to promote and get the word out on your skills, both online like social media, a website, blog and offline like brochures, directories and hotel concierges.
A tour guide’s earnings differ depending on the type of the tour. Tour guides or managers get paid much more on organized and lengthy trips, such as a trip to the cities of Europe with them escorting the travelers on the plane and on site. They get paid aroundRs 500 to 1500 a day. Freelancers earn more, but then they have more out of pocket marketing costs.
A good bonus to being a tour guide for a specific group are the tips, either from the clients or from the company itself , if you’ve followed the rules of how to become a Tour Guide properly. What’s more is that a tour guide may have travel costs covered by the company or the travelers, for things such as food or lodging expenses
Path Less Trodden?
The path on of a tour guide is the one that is less travelled by and is a bit challenging, but being a Tour Guide is a really great job. You get to go to places either you’ve always loved going to on vacation or have never been before. And researching the facts and the history behind these tourist spots and mastering other languages can prove to be fun and self -enhancing as well. You get to interact with other people as well, which if you enjoy can be a very lucrative opportunity.
Weighing the pros and cons:
There are many benefits to being a Tour Guide :
* You get to travel to great vacation spots while also getting paid for it
* If you work hard enough you may get good tips, making your salary very competitive.
* Freelancing is an available option, giving you maximum work schedule flexibility.
* You get to learn many things in this profession and are the expert on a destination or itinerary. After all, researching is one of the requirements on how to become a tour guide
Although Tour Guides have a lot of perks that come to them, they also get a lot of stress from work:
* There isn’t always work available for them since most of their work depends on the season
* They have to research thoroughly about the destination,especially if they’re new to it
* Not all clients are easy to get along; some can be quite troublesome and harsh especially if they don’t find you impressive.
Although these negatives might discourage you from being a Tour Guide, most tour guides will tell you the good outweighs the bad.
Has the globe- trotting instinct being kindled in you? If yes start your journey today, and like Homer’s Odyssey ,quench your thirst by following the hallowed heights of a glowing career ahead-of you