So You Want To Be a Tour Manager . . .
International Association of Tour Managers Ltd
“I enjoy travelling and meeting people … how do I become a Tour Manager?”.
In truth, the question “How do I become a Tour Manager?” is easily the most common we are asked – and also the one we most dread. There are no easy answers and, frankly, the majority of those making the enquiry do not make suitable candidates.
Our first response to the question is usually another question “Do you know what a Tour Manager does?” No, they are not Tour Operators; no, they are not resort reps; no, they are not city guides; no, they are not paid to go on holiday …
What then is a Tour Manager? Simply, an individual hired by a Tour Operator to accompany their group travel packages, usually by bus but sometimes by rail or air, caring for their clients’ needs throughout the entire duration of the tour.
Of course a Tour Manager does travel and they do meet people and, yes, they do enjoy their work – most of the time at least. However, their enjoyment is certainly not the most important consideration in the mind of the Tour Operator who has hired them to look after 40+ high-paying clients who will demand that the dream tour sold by their travel agent is fulfilled in every aspect.
So what does a Tour Operator look for in their prospective Tour Managers? No two Tour Operators would agree in every detail, but there are some common factors.
A good standard of education, preferable multi lingual, should be considered minimal requirements, along with a good knowledge
of art and European history.
Having said all of this we are still only at the starting point. Many experienced hirers of Tour managers say they can tell within the first sixty seconds of meeting an applicant whether they will make a good Tour Manager. Personality, charm, charisma – call it what you will, it is the key ingredient which makes a Tour Operator feel confident that they can safely entrust their valuable clients to your care. And there are no schools which can teach you that.
You’re still reading so we haven’t put you off yet. In which case you may be just what a Tour Operator is looking for.
So what is your next step? We cannot give you a list of Tour Operators to write to, but check out your local travel agent and see which companies are running the kind of tours you think you could manage. Some specialize in young travelers, others cater for more mature clients: some stress cultural aspects, others emphasize having fun.
Choose your Tour Operator with care, then write a letter specifically related to their kind of tours and why you think you can handle them.
Don’t forget to include a good photograph – invest in something better than a photo booth mug shot; remember you really want to do this job.
Anything else? Yes, we wish you every success – Tour Managing can be one of the most rewarding careers imaginable!