My prior cruises were to the south where tour guides work all year round. Many times, English is their second language which consequently often limits the personal discussions. Touring Alaska was a totally different story. Tour guides for cruises are limited to a 6-month time frame. Most of the tour guides we met were seasonal residents of Alaska and their first language was English. A lot easier to have a good conversation.
Though technically they were employed by some touring adventure company, or the cruise company, it was on a contractual basis which allowed them to pick their availability. Of course, since for most of them this was their yearly bread and butter, they usually worked 6 days a week to maximize their income. Tips are a large component to their income so the experience they deliver is critical.
So, what made them be entrepreneurs even though they contracted with a company? This was discovered in the stories they offered. We are talking a pretty cold place in the winter and so many of them choose to hoof it after the cruise season ends. Many went home, some went to sunny places south, or some like our tour guide Rhonda traveled to exotic places. Others used that time to pursue additional education, some focused on writing a book, or creating art. I consider this an entrepreneurial life.
As I listened to their stories, I fantasied living their life. Making people happy, sharing local history and geography, telling stories. I am sure it’s not all as glamorous as it sounded. But oh what fun to lead a hike to a glacier……until I ran in to the big grizzly bear!!!!
Ok. Back to reality. Each of us entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. We offer different products and services. One of the things I noticed was that these guides were always promoting themselves and their company. You would think we are “one” visit and done, but I am sure the thought is we are networking opportunities to encourage others to sign up for their tours. I was offered business cards to give a review on Trip Advisor, or “like” on their Facebook Business Page, sign up for a photo contest, all to stay connected and share my positive experience with others. Even guides use online marketing.
One last thing, we noted many other kinds of entrepreneurs in Alaska: shop keepers, fishermen, hunters, gold miners, dog sled mushers and handlers, and more. Learning about dog sled mushers is another incredible story. Wow! I wouldn’t want to live in a place so cold in the winter, but I am glad that my business allows me to travel there. Thank goodness. It’s the best part of my life. Work and play on my terms. Does your business support the lifestyle you want? Find your passion and interest and build your business around it so you love what you do and it gives you the lifestyle you desire.