What is your job title? Are you a sales manager, vice-president, chief cook and bottle washer? Most businesses assign titles without much thought, relying mostly on old standbys. Some actually think a fancy designation is an acceptable substitute for a raise!
I am fortunate to work in a business that does think a title matters, and sometimes even encourages employees to choose their own. Some are as creative as the jobs themselves: “Chief Inspiration Officer”, “Prime Minister” and – my personal favorite – “Director of Fun”. Among tour guide titles I’ve seen are: “Resident Expert” and “Royal Storyteller”. Don’t you just love it?!
These monikers describe people who are in the business of creating happy memories for visitors. They may work for a local CVB, a restaurant or hotel that sees a lot of tourist traffic, or a tour operator like myself. An outgoing personality is a must of course, but an even more valuable trait is the ability to think outside the box. A unique title immediately signals to correspondents or business associates that this person is a Oner, and definitely somebody you’d like to know better.
This same creativity also applies to travel and tourism events, making them more enjoyable and – by extension – more productive. I participate annually in a travel marketplace sponsored by Travel Alliance Partners (TAP). As an entirely new business model this company strives to break ground in everything it does. That includes our trade show, which takes the traditional buy-sell relationship (which can be adversarial) and turns it on its head by creating partnerships instead. In naming our new concept it wasn’t much of a leap to pair the word TAP with another form of partnership: Dancing. Hence: TAP Dance. However, when the event was first introduced, one of our attendees actually had her registration requisition vetoed by her boss because “dance lessons were not in the approved budget!”
Unfortunately, well-meaning bean-counters do slip into positions of authority on occasion and muck things up. What a sad commentary it is on our society that if one is perceived to be having fun at his chosen profession there must be something wrong!
Our job is providing a good time for our travelers, making happy memories with unforgettable journeys. It’s second nature for us to share our happy outlook on life with those around us – customers, suppliers, and colleagues alike. What other business encourages such creativity, works so hard, and has so much fun doing it than the travel industry?
My point here is that when you have an entire industry dedicated to making YOU – the customer – happy, it’s pretty hard to keep a straight face. From the first phone call to your tour company – when you can practically hear the person on the other end of the line smiling – to the welcome reception for your tour, to the farewell dinner where tears of gratitude for an experience of a lifetime are added to the smiles, you know you have found people you want to meet over and over again. Because they make you happy.
As tour operators, we’re glad to be able to bring you such a great gift.
Shebby Lee is a historian, writer and tour operator specializing in the historic and cultural heritage of the Great American West. Her early training was in the theatre and she served a tour of duty as an entertainer with the USO. She is also an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy.