You may be able to gain experience by finding a part-time or summer job working as a tour guide. Local historical sites or museums often use part-time workers or volunteers of all ages from the community to conduct tours. You can also talk with tour guides regarding the rewards and challenges of the job, and observe them as they do their work.
Inbound tour guides take passengers on short excursions that may last a few hours, a full day, or even overnight. For example, travelers visiting Los Angeles might take an all-day tour of Beverly Hills and Hollywood. Inbound tour guides are responsible for making all the necessary arrangements for a trip before departure, such as booking airline flights; ground transportation, such as buses or vans; hotel rooms, and tables at restaurants. If anyone in the tour group has special needs, such as dietary requirements or wheelchair accessibility, the guide must attend to these needs in advance.
Guides also plan the group's entertainment and make any necessary advance reservations to plays, sporting events, or concerts. They may also contact other guides with specialized knowledge to give group tours of various locations. For example, for a group visiting Chicago, the tour manager might arrange for a guided tour of the Art Institute one day and a tour of famous city landmarks (such as Cloud Gate, or more commonly known as "The Bean") and architecture (such as buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) on another day.
Inbound tour guides must make sure that everything goes as planned, from transportation to accommodations to entertainment. Inbound guides should be familiar with the locations they are visiting and be able to answer questions and provide entertaining and educational commentary throughout the trip. They must make sure that all members of the group stay together so as not to become lost and remain on time for various arrivals and departures.
Inbound tour guides may also be involved in the communications end of the business—researching and writing descriptions of the places that will be visited—for the tour company's Web site, and promotional brochures and flyers. Depending on the size and structure of the tour company, they may also field e-mail and phone queries, handle booking trips and financial transactions, and send out trip confirmations as well as schedule updates.