What exactly does a tour leader do?
Why do I need one?
If you’re a first-time group leader, you certainly have asked yourself these questions. And we don’t blame you! It’s hard to gauge the true benefit of a tour leader before you take your first multi-day school trip, especially if you are already familiar with the destination. We know, too, that you’re trying to find the perfect balance between value added and cost to the student.
Our hope for you is that you enjoy the trip as much as the students. We want you to relax when you step on that motor coach, after your dedicated months of planning and preparation. To that end, tour leaders play a huge part. Let’s break down each of their roles, one by one.
Tour Leaders are Not Tour Guides
First, let’s clarify what tour leaders are NOT. Tour leaders are not tour guides! A tour guide meets the group at their destination to spend a few short hours with the group. Tour guides are knowledgeable, but typically stick to their usual order of telling the facts and moving about the city. In general, they are more passive about relaying information rather than actively getting to know the students and engaging them in their surroundings. The role of a tour guide is limited to imparting information.
Tour Leaders Engage Students in their Destination
Tour leaders personalize your travel experience. They get to know your students, their names, and their interests. Their facts and information about a site are packaged in engaging stories and activities. Not only will tour leaders explain what the group is looking at and the relative context, but they will give the students something to look for, such as an interesting detail or carving. In short, they create an engaging learning environment for your students to explore. Students will become more involved in their destination as a result of a tour leader’s guidance.
Tour Leaders Accompany the Group for the School Trip Duration
Unlike the temporary visit of a tour guide, tour leaders travel with the group for the entire school trip. Tour leaders stay at the same hotel as the group, join the group for meals, and are with the group continually on the motor coach and at all sites until the end of the trip. They are a constant help resource. The first meeting point can vary. Tour leaders will meet the group as early as at their school the morning of departure or as late as when they first arrive in their destination city. Once you do meet, however, the tour leader stays with the group until the end.
Tour Leaders Handle Trip Logistics
As a constant help resource, tour leaders handle all trip logistics. Timing is a huge part of this. Tour leaders pace the group at each site, ensuring that exploring time is maximized while allotting enough time to move between sites and arrive on time. Tour leaders coordinate with the motor coach driver to decide the best routes throughout the city. They also lead the group on the most efficient walking routes. Tour leaders interface with all restaurant, hotel, night security, and attraction vendors to keep everything running smoothly. Should any hiccups arise, the tour leader is there to handle it.
Tour Leaders Manage Tickets and Vouchers
With a tour leader on your trip, you will never have to worry about keeping track of meal vouchers, show tickets, metro passes, etc. Your tour leader will receive these from Scholastica and will manage them safely throughout the trip. She/He will distribute them to students when needed and not earlier (to prevent lost tickets).
Tour Leaders Assist in Emergencies
Student safety is our top priority for every trip. We have many safety measures in place for school trips, however the assistance of a tour leader can not be understated. Should a student emergency arise, tour leaders can direct you to the nearest pharmacy, arrange local transportation, or make any necessary phone calls while you are occupied with the situation at hand. If you would need to leave the group for any reason, the tour leader will be with the group and continue running the trip as planned.