If you are someone who knows the history of your city and its local tourist destinations but are currently constrained at home because of prevailing health and safety protocols, then, working as a local tour guide from home is the perfect job for you.
Tourism is one of the bread and butter of the United States, and perhaps even in most countries in the world (especially those with hidden gems as well as a very interesting history and culture). It is one of the industries that bring a lot of money into the country and other country’s pockets.
Needless to say, the tourism industry gives a lot of jobs to the people – local tourist guides included.
In data published by Statista, from 2015 until May of 2019, there are more than 48 thousand individuals employed as tour and travel guides in the United States of America. Supposedly, the numbers are expected to rise this year and the years to come.
However, with the recent turn of events, with the threat brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, this has become quite uncertain.
Travels and tours have become widely affected by the pandemic, and because of the current situation, a lot of people working in this sector – especially local tour guides — are afraid they might end up losing their jobs, which means no money to bring food to the table.
While this may sound a little unfortunate, if you belong in this sector, here’s the thing — you can actually turn it into an opportunity to build up your career as a local tour guide.
Yes! You read it right. Take this as an opportunity to work as a local tour guide from home. By doing so, you get to continue doing what you love to do, at the same time, you are able to be your own boss, work on a flexible schedule, and decide how much you want to make in a month or so. All thanks to digital technology and the internet – this was made possible.
With that said, to help you start off your local tour guide career from home, we are going to share with you some of the most essential information you need to know. This include the following:
- What is a local tour guide?
- What does a local tour guide do?
- Who qualifies to be a local tour guide?
- How much does a local tour guide make?
- How to become a local tour guide?
- How to start earning as a local tour guide from home?
WHAT IS A LOCAL TOUR GUIDE?
First of all, before we even get into a more detailed discussion, we thought it is only right that we define what a local tour guide means.
Technically speaking, there are two types of tour guides — first, there’s a local tour guide, which is our main focus for today, and the other one is called a licensed tour guide.
A local tour guide is someone who is local to a particular place. Meaning, she is someone who knows the place well enough to show tourists around and tell them essential information about the place.
Meanwhile, a licensed tour guide refers to individuals who have a relevant degree. Typically, they are the ones who have a degree either in history or archeology.
Though quite different from each other, both types of tour guides conduct private or semi-private tours either on foot or by car.
WHAT DOES A LOCAL TOUR GUIDE DO?
As mentioned, a local tour guide refers to an individual who is intimately familiar with a certain place — could be a city or a region — and is able to show guests around and tell them essential information about the place.
Unlike a licensed tour guide, being a local tour guide does not require specific requirements. But of course, it would be a plus if you do have one. Otherwise, you can always rely on training materials that are readily available out there (on and offline).
Anyway, in terms of what a local tour guide does, it depends entirely on the place where you live. It depends on what your place has to offer.
However, to give you an idea, here are some of the most common types of tour guides that you will find almost anywhere:
- City Walking Tours – This type of tour usually happens during day time. Normally, this type of tour tends to be historical.
- Bus Tours – Normally, this type of tour is offered in big cities. Obviously, your job is to take tourists around using a bus. In most cases, you tell a bit of the history inside the bus, and eventually, when you get to the place as you tour them around.
- Specialty Tours – This refers to types of tours that focus on a specific category like winery tours, food tours, as well as city biking tours. The “specialty” usually depends on what your local community has to offer.
- Adventure Guide – This type of tour focuses on anything that has to do with the word “adventure”. It could be activities like hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, kayaking, island hopping, and many more. Most of the time adventure guides work for larger companies, but you can also opt to do it on your own, and partner with a local hotel.
- Ghost Tour Guide – This one’s ideal for those who live in historic places particularly with ghost stories (as the name suggests). To be honest, of all the different types of tours, this is the most exciting. Since your tour has something to do with ghosts, obviously, the tour happens at night.
- Step-On Tour Guide – As the name suggests, as a step-on tour guide, you literally step on a bus, give a tour on a particular area, and then you step back off when everything’s over. Usually, step-on guides work with charter buses that do not have their own tour guides.
Now, with the current situation, you can be as creative as you can be. Since going out especially for tour purposes is not yet allowed, you can do a free virtual tour in your place for now with the goal to invite people to come to visit your place and hire you as their local tour guide when travel bans are over.
WHO QUALIFIES TO BE A LOCAL TOUR GUIDE?
Unless you want to be a licensed tour guide, you will need to earn a relevant degree like history and archeology. But, working as a local tour guide, it does not have specific educational requirements. You can always rely on training materials if you want to learn more about this job.
However, this does not mean that a licensed tour guide cannot work as a local tour guide. Of course, she can especially when planning to work as one in a museum, or if you are planning to work for the government, non-government environmental organizations, as well as private companies that belong to any nature-based industry.
Moving on, if you want to land a job as a local tour guide, or you want to put up your own local tour guide business from home, it is important that your heart is in the right place, and that you are 100% in love with what you do. Needless to say, you must also love traveling and spreading the love for it.
Furthermore, to land a job as a local tour guide, you must also have the following qualities:
- In-Depth knowledge about your city – You cannot be a local tour guide if you do not know anything about your city. Thus, if you want to be a tour guide, you better read up and learn, and make sure you do not forget all the important details about your place. Remember, your customers pay you for the knowledge you share. As a tour guide, customers expect you to know everything about the places where you are touring them around.
- Excellent storyteller – As a tour guide, you tell your customers a story about the places where you are touring them around. But, you have to make sure you tell stories in a memorable way. You have to be able to catch their attention while discussing the place’s history, facts, etc.
- Excellent communicator – As a tour guide, you talk to people every single day. But apart from talking, you must also be a good listener to know what they want as well as what they need.
- Multi-tasker – Multi-tasking is part of the job, you must be able to do things that people expect from a local tour guide simultaneously without having to sacrifice anything.
- Knowledgeable about various cultures – Part of your job is to deal with people from different places with different cultures. That is why it is important to do a little research about the people in your group before the tour happens, so you’d know what offensive and what’s not.
- Responsible – Always remember that as a tour guide, you guide people. These are people who are unfamiliar with the place. Thus, make sure that they are always comfortable and safe.
- Enthusiastic – Tour guides basically sell (not literally though) the city to tourists. So, make sure when you deliver facts and information, you say it with enthusiasm so people will fall in love with your city — unless of course, you are telling a very unfortunate part of the history of the place.
- Physically Fit – Being a tourist guide has a couple of physical demands. You need to deal with long walks, standing for hours, running around, etc. Your body must have the strength to do all these on a day-to-day basis.
- Adaptable – Remember that you deal with different people with different personalities. Thus, it is important that you can easily adapt to situations including and most importantly emergency situations.
Additionally, if you want to know more about the qualities you need to become a great tour guide, check the video below by Miami Tour Company. It’s definitely very helpful, especially for aspiring tour guides.
HOW MUCH DOES A LOCAL TOUR GUIDE MAKE?
How much you make like a local tour guide depends on a lot of factors like where you live, how many hours you work in a day, who you are working for, and of course, what type of tour guide you are.
Apart from these, another factor that you must also take into consideration is the seasonal changes in your place. Although technically, this job is seasonal. In a year, there would be peak seasons and lean seasons. And during lean seasons, do not expect to earn much.
Anyway, according to JobMonkey, generally, tour guides earn somewhere between $50 and $150 per day. Apart from the factors we already mentioned, your expertise, experience, training, as well as educational attainment will also be considered.
But the thing about being a tour guide is that many tour companies encourage their customers to tip the tour guides. So, if you have generous customers, then that could definitely bump up how much you make in a day.
Meanwhile, if you do work for your own, then, obviously, you get to earn more money.
HOW TO BECOME A LOCAL TOUR GUIDE?
So you already know some of the basics about being a local tour guide. This time around, let’s talk about how exactly you become one.
Here are some important steps to take if you want to start a career as a tour guide:
Earn a Relevant Degree
As mentioned, earlier, acquiring a relevant degree is not necessarily required unless you want to be licensed and you want to be very competitive in this field. Some of the most relevant degrees include history, archeology, and anthropology.
Research and Do Some Training
If earning a degree is not feasible, you can instead acquire the necessary training. You may also do your own research about your interesting places and historical facts about the place where you live.
Decide the Type of Local Tour You’re Going to Offer
Remember we mentioned different types of tour guides earlier? If you want to become a local tour guide, you have to know your strength and focus on that. In this case, know what type of a local tour guide are you and pursue that.
Promote and Advertise Your Services
Maximize the use of social media. Use these online platforms as places where you can promote and advertise your services. Create a social media page, create online promotions (which costs cheaper than any forms of advertising), and if you can create your own website.
Another way to promote and advertise your services is by teaming up with some local businesses. These businesses can help you with advertising your tours to their clients in exchange for discounts or incentives.
Set Your Price
Earlier, we already mentioned how much tour guides make. If you are working independently, make sure to take everything into consideration when setting your price. This includes your expertise, time, and effort. In addition, also make sure you factor in meals, drinks, souvenirs, etc. if you wish to include these add-ons to your services. Of course, look into the local competition as well. Make sure you offer a good price.
HOW TO START EARNING AS A LOCAL TOUR GUIDE FROM HOME?
Although the current situation is still so unpredictable, one thing’s for sure – experts believe that once we get back to normal, people will get crazy planning their travels. A lot of people right now are so eager to go back to traveling places, so the travel and tourism industries will surely bounce back.
Now, while that has yet to happen, you can actually start working on your local tour guide business from home.
Yes, there’s no other time to start but now.
But how do you do it?
Here are a couple of ways on how to start earning as a local tour guide from home:
Decide On a Business Name
While you can use your own name in promoting your tour services, you can also think of a formal business name. Think about something catchy, and something that embodies what your key services are.
Work On the Legalities
Depending on your state, you may need to work on some paperwork to be able to formally offer your services to the public. Thus, make sure to check your local tourism office or a local authority to know what the requirements are.
Build Your Online Presence
Once you have formalized your local tour guide services business, you can now start building your online presence. Create social media pages, and if you have a budget, consider building a website.
Today, video blogging or vlogging is very popular. You can create your own YouTube channel featuring the different tourist spots in your city. Speaking of having your own YouTube channel, maintaining it is actually another way to make a good amount of money.
Since touring people around is still prohibited at this time, you may take this opportunity to widen your network for now. Connect with local shops, hotels, and other businesses. Ask them if you can partner. Basically, you offer them a deal, and in exchange, they help promote your services.
Last, but definitely not the least, take this time to learn. You may know a lot of things already, but there’s definitely more room to learn – that’s for sure. So while tourists are scarce (or none at all), get yourself reading and researching not just about your city, but about current travel and tourism trends.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON BECOMING A LOCAL TOUR GUIDE
The travel and tourism industries may be struggling at the moment, but it will surely bounce back. So, while awaiting for that the day when we are all allowed to freely go out and tourists are once again welcome in our places, start working on your tour guide business from home.