Tour Directing Basics

What is a Tour Director?

A Tour Director is a paid professional who leads group tours -- typically one or two weeks in length -- to destinations throughout the world. A Tour Director is responsible for the logistics of the tour and the well being of the passengers. Tour Directors may also provide commentary (history, culture, etc) about the places visited.

Does a Tour Director plan or sell the tour?

No. Tour Operators plan and sell the tours and then hire Tour Directors to lead the tour. However, in some cases tours are scheduled very loosely and leave a lot of room for Tour Directors to plan how time will be spent. On other tours, everything is planned in advance. While a Tour Director is generally not responsible for the planning and selling of a tour, it is becoming more and more common for Tour Directors to create, sell and lead their own tours.

What types of tours are there?

All types of tours, from luxury trips taking well-healed passengers to exotic destinations to budget camping tours. Some tours focus on siteseeing and history, some on fun and relaxation, others on outdoor adventure.

Are Tour Directors actually paid to do this or are they just given the tour for free?

There are some companies that rely on volunteers to lead the tours, but most companies hire professionals who are paid to lead tours -- in addition to getting their hotel, meals and travel paid for.

What do Tour Directors earn?

This varies widely as well. I would say from the low end of $50.00 a day to the high end of around $500 a day. There are a lot of factors involved.

Do you need any specific education to be a Tour Director?

Funny thing about the business is that you have lots of people working as professional Tour Directors without any college at all and then there are those doing it with advanced degrees, often who came to the career after another profession. For the most part, there is no specific educational requirement to become a Tour Director. There are sometimes training programs that some companies require their Tour Directors attend.

Do Tour Directors lead one tour after another or just lead tours now and then?

It depends. Some companies hire Tour Directors to lead back-to-back tours, one after another -- or with just a few days off --and other companies hire Tour Directors with long breaks between tours.