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What’s The Difference Between A Tour Manager & Tour Guide?

Do you want to understand the difference between a Tour Manager and a Tour Guide?

Well, this quick guide will explain both roles so you can understand them and know what to expect on your coach holiday.

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What’s the Difference Between a Tour Manager and a Tour Guide?

What’s the Difference Between a Tour Manager and a Tour Guide?

A Tour Manager is responsible for operating the tour while you are on holiday. They may do some of the guiding but will not be permitted to guide in places where licensed Tour Guides operate such as cities and tourist attractions. A Tour Guide is a licensed, trained, and qualified guide.

Tour Manager

The Tour Manager is responsible for operating the tour whilst travelling on a coach holiday.

They ensure that the program is delivered as per the holiday contract. They deal with all the suppliers, including coaches, hotels, and local guides.

A Tour Manager is also there to deal with any issues including medical problems, and adaptions to the program to take account of disruption or weather.

Tour Managers will often provide commentary on the coach or will lead tours when visiting places.

They are not permitted to lead tours in places where licensed tour guides operate. This might be in cities, or specialist attractions such as the Tower of London, Pompeii etc.

Tour Managers do sometimes offer tours in places where guides operate. These are called ‘orientation tours‘ and should be focussed on practical information rather than historical and cultural facts. This is to avoid encroaching on the work of licensed tour guides.

A Tour Manager is generally not licensed, although there are some qualifications and training available. This is not usually mandatory to become a Tour Manager.

Some Tour Managers specialise in certain types of tours, some in particular destinations, and some travel anywhere in the world.

Tour Managers that specialise in particular destinations can build up a really extensive and detailed knowledge of the area as a result.

This still doesn’t qualify them to become a Tour Guide – they would still have to take an exam.

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Tour Guide (In the Context of Coach Holidays)

A Tour Guide is a qualified trained guide who is an expert in a particular place or destination. They will generally have had to take an exam to prove their knowledge.

They have a huge depth of knowledge about their specialist location and deliver visits and walking tours. Generally, they will be used as ‘step-on’ guides for coach holidays, leading tours for guests and liaising with the Tour Manager about the details of the tour and what it covers.

In the UK we have the British Guild of Tourist Guides who operate the Green and Blue Badge schemes. Guides must take exams to prove their knowledge and skills. Once they have passed they are able to charge standard rates for their tours.

Tour Manager and Tour Guide Summary

  • A Tour Manager is someone who specialises in running tours. This may involve providing some commentary.
  • A Tour Guide is a licensed, trained and certificated specialist in a particular area, destination or attraction.
  • A Tour Manager cannot act as a Tour Guide, but a Tour Guide could be a Tour Manager!
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Other Articles

If you have found my ‘What’s the Difference Between a Tour Manager and a Tour Guide’ post useful you might also like;

What a Tour Manager Does – It’s probably much more than you think!

Coach Trip Terminology – What does an orientation tour mean?

9 Reasons to Choose a Coach Holiday – Based on feedback from my guests

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Author BioMelanie Newdick, Professional Traveller

  • +36 years travelling for work. Visited +40 countries (many multiple times)
  • Stayed in over 700 hotels. Taken +9,500 on coach holidays
  • Check all out my best money saving resources

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