Interview with Myriam Fleischmann and Thorben Dippel about the requirements for being a tour guide at SR Travel GmbH & Co. KG
Myriam Fleischmann and Thorben Dippel are Product Operation Managers at SR Travel GmbH & Co. and responsible for the tour guides. During an interview they told the SRT Online Team all about the requirements and duties of a tour guide at SR Travel as well as everything else you need to know.
Thorben Dippel: After completing my apprenticeship as a travel management assistant at Service-Reisen Giessen, I changed the department within the corporate group to SR Travel. We have been offering various tours with tour guides for more than 15 years. For almost three years I have been responsible for the tour guides. In this ever-expanding business, we now show an impressive four-digit number of group tours. The tour guide that has been with us from the very beginning has accompanied more than 50 tours. Overall, her hours spent on the road as a tour guide add up to more than two whole years.
Myriam Fleischmann: Yes, of course. In order to be able to relate to the tour guides and their day to day situations, Mr. Dippel and I each accompanied a group to the North Cape in the summer of 2017. The experiences we made are incredibly valuable in our workaday life and for supporting our tour guides in the field. In addition, it was also a lot of fun. When i said goodbye to my group, I almost cried.
Thorben Dippel: You can complete a short self-assessment test on our website www.werde-reisebegleiter.de, which queries the most important qualities of a tour guide. Once you’ve successfully completed the test, you can upload your documents right after, e.g. a picture of yourself and a CV.
Thorben Dippel: After uploading the documents you will get access to our new e-learning portal. This provides a perfect basis for the future tasks before you start the job. As a freelance worker you can decide at which dates you would like to accompany a tour. This also means that the working time is not fixed within a specific period of time. Some of our tour guides work with us almost the whole season from March to November, while others only accompany one tour. We make every effort to meet the needs of our tour guides.
Thorben Dippel: No, you don’t have to. You also don’t need expert knowledge of the destinations. One of the main tasks on the coach is to look after the guests and provide them with the information you’ve been given in advance. You share the tasks of the on-board service with the bus driver. You will get a detailed itinerary before the tour starts, containing all important information to update and entertain the tourists. In capitals such as Stockholm, Copenhagen or Warsaw you are also supported by a local German-speaking city guide. They will take over the microphone on the coach and show the group the most beautiful and well-known sights of the city.
Myriam Fleischmann: Our main destinations are currently Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Holland. The trips have a duration between five to twelve days, depending on the destination. Basic requirements are excellent German language skills. It is also important to have good English skills in order to communicate on site. This includes checking-in and checking-out of hotels and the coordination of times. Quite often, you have to help translate different concerns of the guests and pass them on to the local partners. It is not required to speak a local language.
Myriam Fleischmann: Not at all, of course we bear the costs of the hotel accommodation. The tour guide stays in single bedrooms and gets dinner and breakfast for free. The bus drivers usually provide lunch, so no money has to be spent for that either. All other services such as admissions, ferries and tolls are included. We pay a fixed rate for telephone charges of business related calls, e.g. to sort out meal times. We also provide various options for the reimbursement of costs for arrival and departure to the starting point of the trip.The tour guides are very important to us.
Myriam Fleischmann: After completing a trip, the freelance workers issue an invoice to SR Travel for their fee and additional expenses. The professional fee increases with the number of tours accompanied. Of course this pay raise also remains into the next year, as our goal is to reach a long-term cooperation with our tour guides.
Thorben Dippel: In most cases, several buses leave at the same time so you can exchange and coordinate with the other tour guides. On the road, you form a team with the bus driver and are the main contact person for the guests. On our tours to Scandinavia there are even two bus drivers per coach. In addition, the SR Travel Team is available for contact at all times. We have even set up a 24-hour service especially for the tours, so you’re never alone.
Myriam Fleischmann: As a tour guide you are responsible for groups of 40 to 50 passengers. Mainly these people are fifty years or older. The trips are advertised across Germany, so the guests come from all over the country. However, usually only one postal code region is targeted during a specific date. Therefore the guests within the group usually come from more or less the same part of the country.
Thorben Dippel: The vehicles are modern long-distance coaches of different manufacturers that are no older than five years. Therefore almost all buses are equipped with at least a DVD player. To entertain the passengers during longer distances, it is a good idea to play music or movies. Suitable media needs to be brought along by yourself, but is not obligatory. You will sit at the very front next to the bus driver. Usually, the seats in the first row are also reserved for the tour guide. This guarantees a constant coordination with the bus driver regarding the program and breaks.
Myriam Fleischmann: In our blog you can find two entries by tour guides.
The following blog posts, the video and the website will be in German.
Here you get a great insight into the daily work and world of our tour guides. My advice: Just click on the video below and enjoy.