The tour leader job is undoubtedly one of the best jobs in the world. But it is much more than travelling and, above all, a position that entails enormous responsibilities.
The preparation of a The Wanderlust’ tour is a long adventure! Many challenges and processes are ranging from planning, launching, the journey itself and the moment after it ends.
We talked to the tour leaders at The Wanderlust, and we learned some secrets about their role and work before, during and after each adventure.
What is the leader’s role in the trip preparation?
“It all starts with a dream,” confesses the tour leader Cau Costa. There is a willingness to share that journey with other people and to make them vibrate and engage in culture and adventure, just like we did.
That’s why a tour leader is first and foremost a lover of that destination, explains Tânia Neves. Besides, the leader is also an expert in that country or set of countries, almost always counting on many returns to the same destination.
From the dream, you have to take action, and there is a logistics process ahead. “Before launching a trip, I start by drawing up a generic itinerary, with the main places and points of interest to visit and the experiences that I want to share with travellers”, tells us, Cau Costa. The journey begins to take shape and reflects somewhat the tastes and experiences of the leader who promotes it, thus making it an author’s tour. The following step is to contact the local partners and the budgeting, “optimising the time and budget available, and the most comfortable and interesting way for travellers to have this experience is not trivial!”
The tour leader Andreia Marques points out the need to prepare everything according to the agency values, and mentions the marketing and communication necessary tasks “Then it is still necessary to produce content for the website, organise all the promotion and communication, work with the Marketing team of the agency and launch the trip!”
When a group has already been formed for the trip, what are the leader’s tasks?
About a month before the trip, the first contact with each member of the group is made. Liliana Ascensão adds that to her presentation, she “is available to clarify questions, share tips and get to know the participants and their needs.”. It is essential to begin to perceive the group and its dynamics, the sense of unity begins thus to be built even before the journey.
Cau Costa also refers to the need to review all issues related to comfort, medical conditions, diets, bureaucracies, among other aspects.
This is also the time to prepare all the logistics, “Make reservations for hotels, transfers, activities, etc. according to the program. I try to update myself on the current situation in the destination, reactivate all contacts and knowledge of the culture, to be “in tune” with the destination. “, Liliana Ascensão.
During the trip, how is day-to-day with travellers?
The tour leader is confused with the traveller; even if he has a leading role, the ideal is that everyone forgets and that his work becomes almost invisible. There are many aspects of day-to-day logistics, as Tânia says, ” ensure that things stay more or less at the desired pace: that there are no delays, that the itineraries or activities take place as planned, to ensure that travellers are well and that our contacts who are waiting for us and have everything ready.”
On a more informal but equally important level, Liliana speaks of the need to “keep the group as a group, bring unity and harmony, accompany those who are a little ” down “, encouraging those who are more enthusiastic – is a function almost invisible, but crucial. For example, one day, realising that one of the people needs more comfort, and trying to influence the group to go to a better restaurant instead of opting for street food. ”
Miriam Augusto, tour leader and CEO at The Wanderlust, mentions leisure time, “It also happens that even n free time travellers invite me to go with them, not because they depend on me, but because they like my company, even if they know I’ve seen that many times. This coexistence daily often translates into friendships for life. ”
When travellers go to rest, what are the tasks that the tour leaders still have on their list?
“Every day we have to review the accounts, confirm the planning of the next few days, in the background is like a captain at the helm, to see if the boat does not sink and is heading in the right direction. Our boat does not have autopilot. ” Tour leader Tânia Neves, confesses that there are no dead moments, that the leader’s sleeping hours are much shorter than those of travellers, and Cau Costa adds to the indispensable tasks,” One last thing, extremely important: the alarm to wake up in a few hours. ”
The leader continues to list the tasks, “From writing down in a diary the most critical aspects of the day, if possible with the time and duration of activities, highlights and issues to improve (for the rest of the trip and the next edition ). It is also the time to organise the day’s accounts, the invoices and prepare the next day’s payments.
It is then essential to confirm the activities and reservations of the following days (sometimes making changes, for example, if climatic constraints occur), to gather all the necessary documents and information and to prepare the next day briefing. ”
Keeping your trip organised and everything under control requires a great deal of organisation and commitment!
How prominent is the travel leader to the group?
Miriam Augusto emphasises the crucial role of the tour leader for the group embarking on one of our adventures. “The leader is the person who is there to make sure everything goes well and that they do not have to worry about a thing. Most travellers rely heavily on the leader, that speaks the same language and who they trust, so they hardly make decisions without turning to the leader. ”
The leader’s role is also to add value to the journey, “At the same time, they expect us to show them what they would not see if they came alone. That is, the leader has to make all the difference in the traveller’s experience, surpassing his expectations. ”
Cau Costa goes on to describe the importance of this role, “The curious thing is that there is no ideal formula, because each leader has its imprint and, above all,” each group is a group “; the keyword is adaptability.” The tour leader feels that his job is almost like a thermometer, trying to figure out how to intervene at every moment, how the reaction to the activity is, how the group is in tiredness. “The leader must be present whenever the group needs him and at the same time give the necessary space so that each traveller can also make his trip.”
When the journey ends, does the jour leader’s job end too?
Far from it! After the return begins the part that for many is the most annoying: accounting, invoices, reports, but Miriam Augusto ensures that it is not difficult.
Organising photos and sharing them is also an important aspect; everyone is eager to share the most remarkable moments with their friends and family.
Liliana sums up this post-trip period, “it’s time to make the overall evaluation, see what went well, improve aspects that may have been less positive.” For this, leaders have critical feedback from travellers.
After all this (or even before), the travel leader already dreams of the next adventures!