Being a tour guide in Vancouver is a little different from guiding in other Canadian cities. First, and most obvious, Vancouver doesn’t experience those famous ‘Canadian Winters’. Tours in Vancouver are conducted all year round. I suppose they can happen all year in other major Canadian cities, but you are far less likely to have to manoeuvre a bus through 10 feet of snow in Vancouver. I can’t say the same for the rest of the country during the winter. Secondly, what so many locals love about Vancouver is that within twenty minutes of driving from downtown you can be at the ocean, or even on the mountains. This means that visitors get to see way more with less travel time between stops than most other cities in the world.
With all Vancouver has to offer, being a tour guide is one of the best jobs you could ever have. With that in mind, I wanted to share what a day in the life of our tour guide might look like. Every year at Landsea Tours & Adventures we continue to grow (11 new buses coming this summer, the first of which is named Chase seen below).
We are currently training new tour guides and still have a few spots for anyone who might be interested in applying. Some of you may have seen our ads on social media, but to give you a real sense of what’s involved we felt that a blog post would be the best way to describe how you can have the best summer ever. Thus, here is a day in the life of a Landsea Tour Guide.
Your day starts with picking up your supplies from the office. Landsea has a rotating work schedule policy, which means that everyone gets a different set of days off each week. So you can still enjoy a work/life balance even during the summer months. This also means that you get the opportunity to meet all your awesome colleagues who works at the company.
When you get to the office, you grab your attraction vouchers, parking passes, hotel list, and your bus for the day. A fun fact about the company is that we name all our buses after different places in British Columbia. This helps our guests remember which bus they are on for the day. After doing a quick inspection of the bus, you are on your way to pick up your guests.
Driving one of our buses downtown may seem daunting, but we have some amazing driving instructors on staff whose job it is to ensure you are up for the challenge. Through our industry recognized training program, our driving instructor team is there to help you learn and ultimately earn your Class 2 British Columbia driver’s license and have you hit the road with confidence.
After greeting all your guests with the standard Landsea handshake and learning all their names, you introduce yourself to the whole group, inform them of the stopping points for the day and start the tour. Or if you’re like me, since I’m only five feet tall, I also had to assure guests that I was in fact tall enough to reach the pedals. With so much to see downtown, you can usually start the commentary wherever you are. As you head towards your first stop, you test out a few jokes (often jokes are “borrowed” from other guides), making sure that your guests are awake. While we help train our staff on commentary, we allow creative freedom; in fact, it’s encouraged! Personal stories and experiences help add a unique flare to each tour.
Your first stop is where you showcase your professional photography skills, especially important if you have solo travellers, or people who might be too shy to ask. You’ll also be tested on your Vancouver trivia at many of the stops. Anything could be asked from, “What’s Vancouver’s population?” to “How far away is Alaska – in miles?” My favourite to date is “Do they let the bears wander around free on Grouse Mountain?”
Most importantly, stops are where you can get to know your guests. With this job, you get to meet some amazing people from so many different backgrounds. Overwhelmingly, this is what we love most about the tourism industry. You get a mix of people together who normally would never have met. We’ve had everyone take our tours: from world travellers to those just starting their adventures. For Landsea employees, there is no “correct” way to travel. In fact, I once met someone whose annual vacations included taking their child on Disney Cruises. They had been on eight cruises when I met them.
If the stop is a longer one, like at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, then you have the opportunity to get to know your fellow tour guides. Senior guides have a ton of experience and advice, with great stories to share. Part of the reason why we have some people who’ve been here for years is because they not only love what they do, but they love our company culture. Not to mention you get to spend the day touring around Vancouver, Victoria, Squamish, or Whistler. Few office jobs compare to getting paid to socializing on top Grouse Mountain or grabbing a bite in Granville Island.
During the year, we also try to plan a bunch of different staff events from giving back to the Vancouver community to watching baseball games together. The most popular event is the annual Landsea Cup Competition, where the employees are put into teams and compete in a series of games. We even have a trophy to preserve the memory of each year’s champions, and its proudly displayed in our office.
One of the best things about being a tour guide is that you never know who’ll end up on your bus, and with seven different tours, plus private charters, no day is ever the same. After your guests have seen all there is to see, you start making your way back downtown. As you start to drop people off, you say your goodbyes and thank them for joining the tour. A quick fill up on fuel and you’re headed back to the office. Ending another day as a Landsea Tour Guide.
If you are interested in becoming a tour guide, Landsea Tours & Adventures want to hear from you. Spend the summer loving your job! Visit our employment page for more information.