In 2010 South Africa hosted the FIFA soccer world cup and seamlessly pulled it off with flying colours. Preparation leading up to the world cup, however, had the whole country in a spin. Some of those affected were South African tour guides. Suddenly, there were a whole lot of people who wanted to get a tour guiding licence. People saw an opportunity to make money as a tour guide and joined in on the soccer world cup hype. Previous tour guides, who already struggled with the seasonal work and making a living, had even more competition in the workplace because of this. The government also came down on tour guides and put stricter regulations and fees into place. Today, to be a successful tour guide in South Africa, you need to be a couple of steps ahead of the average guide.
It’s hard work becoming a tour guide and competition for work is though. Sitting around at home waiting for a travel company to call is not an option. It’s important to network and advertise your services. Unfortunately, with the number of tour guides that are willing to work for very little pay, the going rate for tour guide services has dropped. Tour operators realise they can get guides very cheaply and so they are offering less pay. For tour guides wanting to make a decent living you need to be ahead of the pack. Certain assets will work to your advantage.
Guides with vehicles
Having your own registered vehicle will make it a lot more convenient for tour operators and they will give you preference if your vehicle is suitable to their clients needs. A luxury sedan can take 3 people comfortably and this will often be needed for businessmen or a couple. An 8 – 10 seater quantum is probably the best all round vehicle for small tours. If the tour exceeds ten people then the tour operator usually hires a bus and driver.
Foreign language speaking guides
Speaking a foreign language is also a valuable asset. Depending on the demand for the language you speak, you can get very well paid as a foreign language guide.
Having additional guiding qualifications helps too. There is a vast range of speciality guide qualifications and the tour guiding body even considers creating special qualifications for those with unique skills. These skills could be scuba diving, hiking, extreme sports or knowledge in a particular field. Different tourists have different interests and they like having a guide with knowledge in their particular field of interest.
Lastly build a good reputation for yourself. If you are reliable and keep the clients happy then you will get repeat work and referrals.
Donna Van Wyk writes on behalf of Skilled Migrant Jobs, a job board offering an Australian job search for international job seekers.