Tour Guides get all the attention. If you’ve taken a guided tour while vacationing, you’ve probably experienced their warm personalities, sparkling story-telling skills, and depth of knowledge about your destination. They often provide one of the most memorable experiences of a trip.
Let us introduce you to the lesser known Tour Manager.
While tour managers sometimes provide guide services to their groups, their responsibilities are wide-ranging and their work often goes unseen. As veteran tour manager Ruth explains, “I sometimes wish Group Leaders would stop telling us how glamourous and fun our job is! I wish they knew all the behind the scenes work we are doing. They have no idea that we are up in our hotel rooms reconfiguring things and talking with drivers and doing other things late into the night, after they have already gone to sleep, or that we have already been down at the breakfast location sorting out any problems, long before their alarm has even gone off.”
That type of invisible effort ensures a smooth trip. Our tour managers are unanimous in their goal to provide you with a hassle-free trip. Your tour manager serves as the liaison with the bus drivers, reconfirms your hotel block, and doublechecks all reservations. She handles the tickets so that you don’t have to worry about losing them. She coordinates with waitstaff to insure students with food allergies receive an appropriate meal. She identifies appropriate points of access for disabled group members. And she’s a problem solver of the first order. Sue shared the experience of “swapping a piece of clothing with a student whose outfit wasn’t quite up to standards so that she was allowed to perform with her group.”
When the unexpected happens, you’ll be glad to have a tour manager taking charge: bus breakdowns, itinerary-interrupting weather, missed reservations. Working with on-site personnel and our office staff, they will direct, cajole, negotiate and otherwise move mountains to get your program back on track with minimal disruption.
While the tour manager attends to the details of your itinerary, you and your chaperones are free to enjoy the tour along with your students. Tour managers who choose to travel with student groups take great delight in the student participants. Marie observed, “I’ve had groups that have never been to a big city, never seen snow, never slept in a hotel, or have never been on an airplane. It is incredible to watch their joy, enthusiasm and excitement as they soak up all the new experiences.” Their genuine concern for the students doesn’t go unnoticed. Ruth notes, “I feel privileged that so many, many students ask me to be in their selfie with them! My picture has probably broken over 100 phone cameras by now.”
Whether you’re a small group of 20 on a theatre tour, or a marching band of 200 on a performance tour, there’s a lot going on in a student trip. Itineraries are full, days are long, and details are many. But that won’t prevent your tour manager from taking a quiet moment when necessary. Here’s one more story:
“While at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC, I was touring the museum alone and a student on my tour crossed paths with me. He had gotten separated from his friends, so I invited him to tour the remainder of the museum with me. He accepted. We stopped at many exhibits and we talked the entire time. I got the distinct impression that he had some negative opinions toward the Jewish race and after awhile he somewhat admitted that to me. I passed no judgment on him and made no comment. As we continued touring the museum together, I would offer some historical knowledge on the subject, being careful to not overdo it. I could see his opinion changing right before my eyes. As we arrived at the meet point for the group, he turned to me, looked me right in the eyes, and told me he was leaving this building with a different opinion than he entered it with. He thanked me and told me I helped him see things differently. I think HE was the one who helped himself and I was just a companion to assist him with his enlightenment. I have thought about him many times over the years, and I hope he is doing well.”
We’re sure that student also remembers that moment. And we thank our wonderful tour managers for the commitment they make to you and your students on every trip.