Nearly all professional tourist guides are self employed, free lance and are not the employees of any organisations or company. It is entirely up to us to handle our own administrative work, preparations, research, keep up to date, and stay on top of requests coming in. For September and October, requests begin a year prior and can continue until the very last minute. Since we don’t work in an office, work long hours especially in these two months, its not always possible to invoice on time or prepare last minute itineraries at the drop of a hat. There is no secretary, no assistance or operation managers handling requests while we are out guiding guests. We also can’t reply to emails, phone calls or message while we are guiding people. We can only do this when we are not with our visitors and guests.
Excellent professional local tourist guides fees are not supposed to be inexpensive. We do not deal in huge volume. Clients and guests are not only paying for the half day tour, we are guiding but also for the administration, preparations, reservations and time spent to ensure guests have a unique local experience, when booking directly. If you are hiring our services through a company that book guides, will be taking from 25% to 75% of the fees you pay. In the crazy months many colleagues, including myself put our personal life, personal time on hold. Many of us including myself stop life for these two months working from 7:00 to midnight and sometimes late at night. I do take courses and try and do other things but never have the time to work on these as I would like to.
To those who want to have an excellent professional local guide for your clients, book ahead as much as possible. Customised, private made to measure tours are possible however they do take time to prepare and research.
We all wish that this work could be spread out through out the year but for professional guides. We are a bit like squirrels. We must make as much as possible in six months. Once November arrives, contracts can drop to zero. When you free lance, you don’t know how much you will make in the year, until the end of the year. With that amount, we must pay for our rents, utility, insurances, transportation, clothing, food, take care of families and pay for income taxes, and other taxes including $120 a year city permit to practice our profession and some find ways to put money aside for retirement.
We are not entitled to unemployment insurance, if we get sick or injuries there is no income and not compensation. Usually by March or April, after we have paid for income taxes, there is not much left. Some might have some winter work during other things, however few companies or organisation want to hire someone who is only available six months of the year.
That is why the crazy months of September and October are so important to professional guides who try and work from as early in the morning as possible to as late as possible.