What Does It Take to Be a Rick Steves Tour Guide?



After sharing the fun of our annual guides’ summit, we wanted to answer the most common question we hear: “What does it take to be a Rick Steves tour guide?”

To be honest, we don’t have a set procedure. We have about 130 lead tour guides. Most are Europeans, but plenty are Americans. Many are already professional guides working with (or fleeing) other tour companies. Some are friends of our company who have been with us since they were kids, packing boxes in our mailroom.

For an insight into the way our guides are managed, here’s an interview with Steve Smith. Steve was one of our very first guides (#4, to be specific), and now he oversees our entire team.

How did Steve start? Back in the 1980s, he was nicknamed “pack man” for the phenomenal way he sold our suitcases and backpacks. He’s our in-house Francophile, who single-handedly established our France program (co-authoring my France, Paris, and Provence guidebooks, and turning this sandwich-munching Viking into a person with a love of France). And all along, I count him as one of my best friends.

With this short interview, I’d like you to meet Steve Smith.

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