Receptive Tour Company Manager - Tour And Travel Services

Last / Next  2010-12-02 05:16:00 / Classification:Travel & Tourism Industry

Duties: Conducts local tours for traveling charter tour companies     

Alternate Title(s): Receptive Tour Operator; Step-on Tour Company Manager       

Salary Range: $30,000 to $100,000      

Employment Prospects: Good    

Advancement Prospects: Good      

Best Geographical Location(s): Areas with attractions for tourists, including Branson, Mo., New York City, Washington, D.C., New England, and Orlando in the United States, and Toronto, Niagara Falls, Montreal, Nova Scotia, and Quebec in Canada      

Education and Training—High school diploma with advanced education courses in business, travel and tourism, history, geography, computers, administration, math, and sales; college degree is helpful for managerial positions; fluency in one or more foreign languages is helpful    
Experience—Managerial positions, particularly in tour operations, travel agencies, or suppliers (e.g., hotels or resorts, airlines, convention and visitors bureaus), with experience in sales, negotiations, and the Internet     
Special Skills and Personality Traits—Good organizational and, interpersonal skills; oral and written communication proficiency; negotiating and business management ability       
Licensure/Certification—Voluntary certification can be helpful; some states require licensure following one or more training courses       

Position Description     
The main goal of a receptive tour company is to provide a tour that goes beyond, “And on the left side of the bus is . . . ” A receptive tour company is usually located in a specific geographic area of which its tour guides have an encyclopedic knowledge. The manager and most of the employees have inspected the hotels, eaten in the restaurants, seen the shows, and taken the tours of historic and cultural attractions so that they can assure the quality and appropriateness of these facilities and attractions.       
The company may go beyond the normal sightseeing options by contracting for a behind-the-scenes tour of a theater or museum restoration department or a meal in the kitchen of a fine restaurant. They eliminate the possibility of a group scheduling a visit to a museum that is closed for renovation, missing a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit at a small out-of-the-way gallery, or losing out on the chance of seeing a theatrical production.       
Working with tour operator companies that schedule trips into the local area, the receptive tour company helps design a tour that will interest the clients and be within their physical limitations. These groups may come from a school sponsoring a “spring trip” or from a senior citizens center. Their interests may be cultural, musical and theatrical presentations, sports, grandparent/grandchild travel, historical, or whatever is of special interest in that geographical area. The receptive tour company may specialize in groups for seven, eight, 12, 15, or nearly 50 people, depending on the size of the vehicles they own or lease, or, they may own or lease vehicles based on the size of the groups they want to escort. Clients may be Americans or international travelers.       
A Receptive Tour Company Manager deals with the same issues as does the manager of any tour company, including hiring, firing, training, budgeting, and promotion, with an added emphasis on knowing a specific geographic area inside out. The Receptive Tour Company Manager supervises all staff to determine the operating budget; conducts market research to determine what interest there is in particular tours; prices and sells the tours and services (negotiating for a discount admission, lodging, or meal price and including taxes, gratuities, and profit margin); and may be requested to make sure all required lodging, transportation, and ticket arrangements are made. Oftentimes, however, the inbound tour company makes most of those arrangements. He or she also may arrange meals and other entertainment, either as part of the package or as options.        
Managers meet with meeting planners and convention and visitors bureau representatives to sell tour services to inbound meeting attendees or to learn what is new and interesting and should be included in upcoming tours. They also prepare or oversee the preparation of all necessary materials for the tourguides and then evaluate the comments from guests regarding future trips, including what should be deleted or added to make the trips more enjoyable.       
It is important that Receptive Tour Company Managers belong to an organization, such at the National Tour Association, that has strict requirements regarding insurance, number of tours conducted, and employee experience. The reputation of this association improves the reputation of the receptive tour company. All NTA members are covered by the association’s consumer protection plan, which protects client deposits in the event the receptive tour company files for bankruptcy.      

General managers average $45,000 annually, with vice presidents earning about $52,000. Operation managers/tour planners make an average of $34,000. Most tour operations offer reimbursement for additional training of their full-time employees. Almost all full-time employees are provided with health insurance covering all or part of medical, prescription, and dental costs. About half of tour operations companies offer life insurance, and the majority provide a retirement or pension plan. Generally, employees receive two weeks paid vacation, with an additional week of sick days and personal time.      
As receptive tour companies feature local tours, there is not much national or international travel connected directly with the job. However, national and international tour operator conferences, where such a company would go to solicit business and keep abreast of the industry, call for some travel.        

Employment Prospects      
About one-third of tour operation companies have between one and three full-time employees, while 13 percent have up to 20 full-time employees. More than 50 percent have another one to three part-time employees. With an employee turnover rate of about seven percent, there are not many openings for upper-level management personnel, especially within small operations. Larger operations offer more opportunities and a chance to learn the various aspects of the business while gaining experience for more important positions. Convention and visitors bureaus offer excellent ground-floor experience.        

Advancement Prospects      
As most companies are family owned and small, there is very little room for advancement among full-time employees. Larger companies offer some room for advancement.      

Education and Training      
Upper-level management personnel are expected to have at least some college, with most companies preferring a college degree and a small percentage requiring a postgraduate degree.        

Special Requirements      
The National Tour Association offers a Certified Tour Professional official recognition program. A Certified Travel Counselor program or a Destination Specialist program, offered by the Institute of Certified Travel Agents, is helpful.        

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits       
Strong oral and written communication skills are essential for managerial positions and for tour guides. Management experience is helpful. It helps to have a flexible and detailoriented personality to handle all the aspects of a tour.       

Unions and Associations         
The most active associations in the tour business are the National Tour Association and the U.S. Tour Operators Association. They have strict guidelines for membership and sponsor frequent regional, national, and international conferences and shows for training and one-on-one discussions with contacts from destinations, attractions, and service providers.       

Tips for Entry      
1. Learn the travel and tourism business from the ground up, perhaps starting as a tour guide.       
2. Learn about the area, it’s geography, history, culture, sports, and other special features and attractions.      
3. Talk with receptive tour companies, asking their advice about career choices, internships, and apprenticeship programs.    
4. Establish a network of people in the industry by attending local and National Tour Association functions.    
5. Subscribe to trade publications or read about current trends and developments on-line.


TAG: Tour-Manager



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