The Strong Interest Inventory is an interest inventory and job matching tool that has benefited thousands of people worldwide. It works by first assessing individuals’ preferences in many areas, such as workplace environment, professional flexibility, subject area, and more. Then, it guides job seekers toward specific careers in addition to one or more career categories: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Each career category has certain distinguishing characteristics. For example, Enterprising careers typically involve interfacing with customers through sales or customer service and convincing them to take certain actions or hold certain positions. People who have strong leadership skills and enjoy working with others in a challenging, fast-paced work environment are often drawn to Enterprising careers. Travel Guides are one example of an Enterprising Career.
Travel Guides are responsible for planning, organizing, and conducting long-term and short-term travel, tours, and expeditions. This process has many steps. Before the trip, Travel Guides need to plan routes and itineraries, including how much time will be spent at each location or site and where travelers will stay each night. Once they have decided their general route, they then need to arrange for accommodations, make reservations for transportation, and, in some cases, ensure that medical personnel is available. Guides who lead expeditions that use specialized equipment, such as rock climbing or mountaineering expeditions, must also procure the appropriate equipment and ensure the quality, condition, and quantity of equipment is sufficient for their group. Additionally, travel Guides sell travel packages or seats for their expeditions, which may involve creating marketing materials, networking with other tour companies, and contacting prior guests. As guests book their trips, Travel Guides may need to help them obtain any necessary permits, documents, passports, visas, tickets, currency, or other materials required for their travels.
Travel Guides lead individuals or groups to destinations and describe any points of interest, including landmarks, monuments, or even shopping locations. The specific responsibilities will depend on the nature of the expedition. For example, a Travel Guide leading tourists around historical landmarks in Washington D.C. will have very different responsibilities from a Travel Guide leading an expedition to the Everest base camp. Responsibilities may include administering first aid; operating vehicles such as airplanes, cars, trucks, busses, or boats; setting up camp; preparing meals; instructing travelers on safe techniques for climbing, mountaineering, hunting, fishing, or other activities; advising travelers on social norms such as tipping, etiquette, appropriate clothing, and more.
Travel Guides must interface with their guests throughout this process to ensure they enjoy their trip and meet their needs. If any problems emerge regarding itineraries, service, accommodations, or other needs, Travel Guides must resolve them and ultimately ensure a positive customer experience. After the expedition or tour is complete, Travel Guides typically request feedback from their guests, so they and the tour organizers can identify ways to continue improving their product.
Successful Travel Guides must have an intimate knowledge of the routes they intend to take and destinations they intend to visit. In addition to specific sites and attractions, they should also be aware of amenities such as restaurants, shopping centers, gas stations, hospitals, and other medical facilities. They must have the knowledge to answer any questions from tourists and ensure that their needs are met.
Travel Guides need to be able to use a range of tools and technologies, though the specifics will depend on their unique role. Most Travel Guides are comfortable using office software (e.g., e-mail systems, web browsers, calendars, scheduling software, Microsoft Office Suite) and common hardware such as computers, tablets, and smartphones. They should also be able to use any tools needed for their expeditions, including fishing poles and climbing gear. Being proficient communicators is essential, as Travel Guides interface with many different people.
While 33% of Travel Guides hold a high school diploma and 40% have completed some college, merely 12% have completed a Bachelor’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ability to learn on the job is much more important than a degree of education.
The median salary for Travel Guides in the United States is $14.16 per hour, which comes to $29,460 annually. This career also has high employment rates, with some 44,000 Travel Guides employed across the United States, and it is expected to grow faster than average in the next decade.
Below are some employment trends for Travel Guides:
- Median Salary: $29,460 annually
- Employment: 44,000 employees
- Projected growth (2020-2030): Much faster than average (> 15%)
- Projected job openings (2020-2030): 9,200
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2018-2028 employment projections Onetonline.org