Like the idea of traveling the world while getting work experience? The tourism industry might be for you.
There are many perks to tour and travel guide jobs—also called “holiday rep” jobs by your friends across the pond (any Brits among us?). They’re great for students who want to fill the gap between semesters or their . Graduates or people can use these gigs to test their options in the short-term while picking up bonus skills.
Travel guide jobs also offer . Even better? The job offers a great answer to the oh-so-dreaded interview question, “Give me an example of when you worked on a team.”
Sound good so far? Here’s the lowdown on what it takes to be a travel guide, what employers look for and what day-to-day life is like on the job.
A tour guide or resort representative is responsible for looking after groups traveling as part of a vacation package at resorts around the world. Their main job is to ensure that the tourists (think of them as business clients, because they are) enjoy their vacation by providing excellent customer service.
You’ll hold welcome meetings, handle complaints and set up and run vacation activities like excursions.
You don’t need any specific qualifications to work for a tour operator. Tour companies look for communication and customer service skills, a confident and enthusiastic personality and the ability to work as part of a team.
Most tour operators seek candidates with experience working in a customer service, travel or tourism position. Yes, this is one place where that part-time job working bar in college can give your resume a big advantage!
Salary and conditions
A starting salary is usually between $720-$800 per month; more experienced folks get more, of course. Not great money, but remember: you will probably get free flights, free accommodations and either included meals or a food allowance.
Other benefits include discounted or free excursions, use of company cars in leisure time, use of hotel swimming pools and tennis courts, discounted prices in bars and restaurants and cheaper accommodation for family or friends who visit. These goodies are out there and are usually arranged on an ad hoc basis within the resort or at the discretion of management.
Tips on applying
Working for a tour operator can involve a lot of long, unsociable hours and living out of your suitcase, all while being away from your friends and family for long periods of time. It’s certainly not a job that’s suited to everyone. Make sure you do your homework so you can convince a tour operator that these negatives won’t be a problem for you, because for the right person, the benefits of the job far outweigh the negatives.
So, what to do first?
Be sure to research the tour operator you’re applying to. Most applicants don’t spend enough time researching and as a result don’t know enough to impress at the interview. During an interview, you can expect specific questions about the tour operator, how it operates and what destinations they fly to. By demonstrating you’ve done thorough research, you show a high level of commitment.
To convince a tour operator you’re the best person for the job, it’s important to really understand three things they want to hear you say you can do:
- Represent the tour operator to the best of your abilities.
- Provide an exceptional customer experience.
- Generate revenue for the tour operator.
Finally, show them you have problem-solving skills, tact, an enthusiastic personality and are flexible, and you should be well on your way to a cool, world-widening short-term job.
Neil Maxwell-Keys is the director of for Travel, a U.K.-based accredited provider of e-courses to help those looking to work in travel. Learn more at or join the conversation on Twitter at .