Lexie Kunkel, ITMI Alumni 2014
Tour guiding and tour directing are professions that attract a wide range of personality types. Artists, actors, musicians, writers, scientists, and historians are among those who gravitate toward this exciting and challenging career path.
Despite their differences in education and interests, most share one common characteristic: they’re just plain fun to be around.
Here are eight reasons tour directors and tour guides are the most fun people you’ll ever meet.
They have great senses of humor: The ability to find the punch line in the most harrowing of circumstances is an art form few master. For tour guides and tour directors, it’s pretty much obligatory. The more variables you juggle – weather, traffic, 50-plus people coexisting for several days – the more that can go wrong. Sometimes you just have to have a good laugh and move on.
Their enthusiasm is contagious: Wide-eyed wonderment is feeling that never fades from the most passionate travelers. New experiences with new friends in exotic locales tend to bring out the kid in them. For some tour directors and tour guides, it doesn’t matter if they’ve been to a place on one occasion or 100 – they see its soul and it lights them up every time.
They’re great listeners: It’s interesting that this is so true of people who make their living by speaking. Ever wonder why a good tour director or tour guide is able to grab the attention of so many tour members? It’s because they’ve spent a huge chunk of their time listening to their guests, finding out what they like, what they don’t, and continuously modifying their approach based on this feedback.
They know how to work a room: Tour directors and tour guides have a knack for bringing the social butterfly out of the most deeply rooted wallflowers. One major reason is their sensitivity. When you deal with so many different personalities on a regular basis, you become a master at identifying shared attitudes and interests. Don’t be surprised if you see them help the most introverted person in the room break out of their shell and forge a lifelong bond or two.
They can communicate with anyone: No one can overcome a language barrier more deftly than a tour guide or tour director. The more you travel, the more commonalities you observe among different groups of people. You learn the gestures, intonations, and expressions that speak universally. When two people earnestly try to understand each other, they can usually find common ground.
They’re people pleasers: Arguably, most people are genuinely concerned about the happiness of others. Tour guides and tour directors tend to feel responsible for it – even to a fault. They will do everything in their power to ensure that their group is as entertained and full of joy as they deserve to be. That doesn’t mean they’re doormats. It means they understand that a group’s mood is dynamic; it ebbs and flows with every positive and negative word and thought.
They’re natural storytellers: What makes a great storyteller great is his or her ability to make the audience feel as if they were there. It’s about making memories relatable and tangible. That requires being incredibly observant and aware of one’s surroundings. Tour guides and tour directors are the thirstiest of sponges, always looking to soak up the essence of every place and experience so they can share them in the most engaging ways possible.
They know how to party: No, we’re not referring to how much they can drink. We’re talking about how they can cut loose and have fun when the time is right. The most successful tour guides and tour directors are incredibly balanced. They work hard, play hard, and realize the importance of both. For every ounce of meticulousness and planning expertise they possess, they are often blessed with spontaneity and carefree silliness in equal measure.