It happens not only to a newbie, even a senior tour leader or tour guide have sleepless nights before the tour departure. Sometimes she might contemplate not taking up the job or she might shed a tear or two.

Facing challenges and phobia – a tour leader’s tale

It happens not only to a newbie, even a senior tour leader or tour guide have sleepless nights before the tour departure. Sometimes she might contemplate not taking up the job or she might shed a tear or two. More and more people from this industry are sharing this so-called “tour leading phobia” which should not be ignored in the tourism industry. To outsiders, the tour leaders and air cabin crews are fun jobs with pay.

Is it due to the company, the boss, the “brand pressure” or the clients? As explained by Ling who has been a tour leader for 2 years, “The whole group comprised of people with social status. While most of them are humble, there is usually one or two who are difficult to handle. On top of that, if some arrogant personality decides to disagree, the situation would be worsen and complicated. Besides being sandwiched between the tour members, the tour leader is also trapped in the grey area between tour members and local guide or between tour guide and driver.

In fact, all we want is a good tour. We hope that the local tour guide is good, bus is comfortable, and bus driver is easy-going. We also pray that weather is fine every day, hotel is good and food is scrumptious. Of course, the most desirable is good clients. My parents are concerned as to why is there so much of pressure. Even before the departure day, our clients have been calling up to demand for things like flight seats (front, aisle or not near to toilet); bus seats (front seats); hotel rooms (near lift or last room or room number); food abstention (beef, spicy, seafood, oily, salty, onions, vegetarian, etc.) which are rather simple things. The most difficult ones come from those who choose join the group tour and yet ask “Why so many people in the group, why so early departure, why only 2 hours of shopping, why so many shopping stops… Well, it takes a multitude of people to make up this world.

The most terrible thing for the team leader is to play the additional role of babysitter, nurse, and wheelchair assistant. One couple even have the cheek to hand-over their parents (one of whom was on a wheelchair) and instructed me to take care of their habits like early to bed and early to rise. Could this be the new method for filial piety – paying the tour leader to “take care” of their parents? It is such a heavy responsibility. There was a case when an elderly clients fell and hurt his head in the bathroom, the tour leader was chided by his family. Therefore, all these scenarios played back in our mind each time as the pre-departure phobia crops up.

Occasionally we do have very kind clients who understood our job responsibilities. They often have kind words for us, allow us time to rest and take the initiative to help with the luggage. They will also naturally give us generous tips. More important to us is their show of encouragement. Unfortunately, we are seeing fewer of this kind of clients now.

When it is time to sit down quietly on the return flight, a tour leader will recall moments of the past few days. It could be ridiculous, laughter and tears. No matter what, it has indeed enriched our life to have encountered so many people.

Travel has always been a part of life. However, most people have unknowingly carried their habits and attitudes into the travel. Life is a multitude of attitudes; it is a courtesy to reciprocate kindness in the journey.

Leading a tour group is a profession which needs to be improvised to meet the needs of the situation. Let’s enjoy the work!

In fact, business owners also have their fair share of phobia like before peak season, low season, before pay day, after bonus day, customer complaints, and so on. Well, don’t you think there’s always a difficulty hidden in every family?


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李桑 作者

在旅游业纵横驰骋1万1000多个日子, 探秘南北极境, 足印遍布7大洲114国! 由衷信仰,“出走” 身体力行,“走出”