Our last blog in our "A Passion for Landsea" series was written by our Training Director, who was a tour guide for Landsea Tours & Adventures originally for three seasons before moving up! Have a read of her blog post below about her time as a tour guide:
Ever wonder what it's like to wake up in the morning and be excited to go to work? I didn't think that was possible until I entered the tourism industry. Working in tourism was not something I had originally considered, but boy am I ever glad that I discovered the fulfillment that comes from building a career in an industry that doesn't feel like "work". I began tour guiding with Landsea Tours & Adventures in the spring of 2012. I immediately felt connected and welcomed into the family, as well as receiving lots of support as I navigated a new realm. From the management team to the trainers and fellow co-workers, there was an obvious sense of satisfaction and pride that came with wearing blue.
As I donned my blue shirt for the first few weeks of training, I knew this was going to be something I was going to love. I learned a lot of new skills that I would have never dreamt of, like driving a bus through Downtown Vancouver. I became increasingly comfortable with leading large groups of travellers, learning how to make history and facts interesting to captivate an audience, and handling the autonomy that was given to me for the first time in my working career. My self-confidence was lifted as I celebrated the many milestones that came in my first year of guiding.
The first sign of a good tour guide is when you can sense that nothing is "rehearsed". There's nothing worse than being trapped on a bus with a tour leader who sounds disinterested, deflated, or monotone. The great thing about Landsea is that the tours are not scripted so the guides have a lot of freedom to make the tour their own. This keeps the guide engaged in the material and allows you to continue modifying your tour with new knowledge. I have a major in geography so I've found ways to incorporate everything I learned in university into my tours. No degree goes without some sort of use here!
I was constantly surrounded by an amazing team, even when I was alone on my own tour. The endless support of the Team Leads instils a level of comfort that nothing is impossible and that together we can find an answer to anything. One of Landsea's core values is "team" and that is evident every day. Your co-workers become your best friends. We're all like-minded people and are here for the same reason. The rest just comes naturally as you hang out on your down time, socialize outside of work, or enjoy the many staff events put on by the social committee.
There are so many incredible memories I have from my tours, which is not something a lot of other professions can offer. As an example, I took a young family of four from Australia to not only see snow for the very first time, but also to stand on a frozen lake and get a beautiful family photo. That moment was the highlight of their entire month-long vacation. I had a group of 20 friends since grade school that would take a big trip together every year. On our trip to Victoria they had me laughing so hard to the point of tears for the entire drive back from the Tsawwassen ferry terminal to Downtown Vancouver, as they all merrily sang TV theme songs from "before my time", show tunes, power ballads, and eventually Christmas carols (in July), just to keep singing. I've had the privilege of being a part of so many amazing charters where I've been included in the activities. I went sturgeon fishing on the Fraser River and caught a 5ft long sturgeon as my first ever fishing experience, learned about the realm of dairy cows in the Fraser Valley with a group of Australian dairy farmers, and spent a few days in Tofino with the Clef d'Or to know them on a more personal level.
The amount of gratuities at the end of the day never compared to the feeling when guests walk off your bus telling you that was the best tour they have ever been on anywhere in the world! Nothing compares to the feeling of making an entire bus break out into laughter, knowing that you are responsible for making them happy. The way people open up while on our tours is incredible. You get to meet people from every corner of the globe and hear their stories. You make 24 new friends every day and bond with your guests more than you ever thought possible; even better is when they bond with each other.
I liked to do a little ice breaker on my Victoria tours while we were waiting at the ferry. I would have every guest say their name, where they are from, and one cool thing about them. This was a great way for me to get to know my guests, but it was also a way for our bus to become a team and learn some interesting facts about who we were. On any tour I'd have folks get so excited when they learnt that there was another couple on board from their hometown. We'd all learn about milestone anniversaries, recent retirements, growing families, and unique hobbies. The guests helped to make every day different because it was a different group with different backgrounds and different interests each day. The more you get to know your guests, the more you can cater your tour to include things they want to know about. That's why we're here!
Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Getting to be a tourist in your own city is something that most people don't usually do. Many Vancouverites eventually take our scenery, amenities, and cleanliness for granted. There is something to be said for seeing something through the eyes of someone seeing and experiencing it for the first time. I will never take anything in Vancouver for granted again and I've been fortunate to have that daily reminder of just how lucky we are to live in this part of the world. These guests are on vacation; they're here to have a good time. By being their tour guide, you are essentially part of their holiday and will have an amazing time with them as you all explore, laugh, and learn together.
Being a tour guide has truly helped me grow as a person. My mom came on one of my tours and saw this whole other side of me that she never knew existed. Before I began guiding, I was extremely introverted, quiet, and identified as a follower. Once I started guiding and grew out of my shell, I became a leader and a teacher. It became my responsibility to initiate conversations, tell stories, and ensure my group was well taken care of. These were things I wouldn't have pegged myself for a few years back. I owe a lot to Landsea for helping me become the person I am today. I'm so thankful for a job that I love in the best city in the world.