Driver Guides for Grayline Tours operate the land based portion of tours for guests arriving off Holland America cruise ships on tours of Alaska. They greet passengers at the dock as they leave the ship, operate the motor-coach, give informative and entertaining commentary to and from the tour destination, as well as acting as local expert for guests. While at the tour site, the Driver Guide becomes the Guide and is fully responsible for ensuring each guest has a pleasant visit to the city.
How I got the idea / found the employment:
I became aware of this opportunity through my older brother as well as through company employees who visited BYU to advertise for seasonal employment in Alaska. Holland America offers tours in numerous different Alaskan cities, so the applicant must educate himself as to the opportunities in each location and choose one most suitable to his tastes. I chose Ketchikan, Alaska because of its small size and unique weather, but especially because of its fame as the “Salmon Capital of the World!” Proper city selection is key to finding the right place to spend a summer working. Your personality must fit the location to which you apply. Use the online resources like visitor guides or wikitravel to find a place with recreational opportunities that fit your interests. Contact former employees in each location to gauge the quality of management at each location.
Challenges I faced, and how I overcame them:
Driver Guides are expected to be the local expert, no matter if they are local or, like me, arrived only a few days before the cruise guests. I applied my cramming skills acquired as a college student to rapidly fill my mind with local history, legends, traditions, and names of places important to guests. In particular, cruise passengers love to buy jewelry, so despite my near total lack of interest, I recruited a co-worker to go “ring shopping” with me and learn which shops gave the best deals, had the nicest employees, and offered unique Alaskan products. Guests appreciated my experience with each of the shops and recommendation as to where to send them.
What I learned:
Outside of Alaskan history and the most effective salmon fishing techniques, I learned how to hold the attention of a bus full of passengers, tailor a presentation to fit the interests of a group, and to deal with unhappy customers. While on tour, YOU are the company, and must learn quickly to deal responsibly with any guest complaints or concerns. I learned patience with passengers’ sometimes irrational requests. My sense of humor became much ‘cheesier’ to fit the tastes of cruise passengers.
I learned how to answer confidently no matter the question and to gain passenger respect and appreciation through a job well done.
I also learned increased responsibility in this job. You are given huge responsibility and are counted on to make things happen on time. With this responsibility comes great satisfaction when you do things well and passengers recognize your efforts.
This job would prepare you for any career that requires speaking and communication skills. It gives an automatic in to the tourism industry and opened my mind to entrepreneurial opportunities.