“Tour Buddy” … a Career that Changes One’s Life

Who will believe that a career can change one’s life!  Did you know that Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire businessman and co-founder of Alibaba…the world’s biggest e-commerce market, was once a “tour buddy”?

You didn’t get it wrong! We are saying that he used to be a tour buddy or officially called “Tour Guide”.

Jack Ma started his career at the age of 12. He was profoundly interested in English and sacrificed himself by riding a bike from home to the city for 40 minutes every morning. He persisted to do that over 9 years even though it rained or it snowed torrentially. His destination was a hotel in Hangzhou, 160 kilometers away from the southwest of Shanghai. That was the time when China’s Open Door Policy brought a large number of tourists from across the world into the country. The Little Jack Ma had the courage to be a volunteer tour guide for foreign tourists aiming to practice his English skills.

What about Thai people! Do we have a chance to be like that Chinese billionaire? 

The answer is “Yes” because there are up to 35 million foreign tourists in Thailand right now, referring to 2017 statistics or equivalent to 50% of Thai populations. Fortunately, most tourists have shifted their travelling habits from joining tour group to be self-traveler. Many tourists visit Thailand individually, while some come in pairs or in a group at a maximum of 5 people.

When opportunity comes our way, why don’t we propose ourselves as a tour buddy to foreign tourists. We can help boost Thailand to be even more charming and enticing country to tourists as named the ‘land of smile’, if we introduce them to stunning unknown spots like real authentic restaurants and some amazing hideaway places they never knew existed.

Currently, the world’s largest accommodation provider “Airbnb”, the original Sharing Economy App, has released an Experience feature to open a new channel to anyone who wants to sell a package of local tour experience or personalized tour to the tourists. ‘Food exploration’ now holds 32% most popular reservation out of all Experience categories. The food courses comprise the teaching of Pad Thai, Tomyam Koong, Royal recipes, authentic Thai foods, and fruit carving.

Responding to this trend, a Thai app “TakeMeTour” serves as a connector between foreign tourists and local tour buddies. The program is either a personal or a one-day trip, focusing on unique travel experiences with real locals. To date, the TakeMeTour platform possesses over 20,000 tour buddies who accompany tourists to all destinations in Thailand.

If you are passionate about being a tour buddy, we believe this career is not far beyond your potential. Just hit it off! Ask yourself, what is the most curious place you want to see or explore when you take a journey to both local and abroad.

That may not be historical sites or places where tourists can search information on the website but rather the tips and perspective towards local community and lifestyle. All those things can create a “WOW” experience and leave a memorable expression for the tourists.

“Sniff an inhaler” is an obvious example that makes a foreigner wonder what Thai people is doing. Why do we insert a tube inhaler into both sides of the nose. Why not only one side? Why salesperson presents few fanciful inhalers in different packaging to customers. We seemed to lose sight of those gimmicks. Did you know that a simple product like inhaler has become an admirable souvenir for the tourists?

 “Made-to-order food” is another flavorful activity as tourists can enjoy ordering several and assorted types of Thai dishes. This is a typical Thai culture that reflects habit and personality of Thai people, and it implies that Thai are highly flexible. You rarely see this practice in Japan because ‘adjusting recipes as you like’ may annoy Chefs who normally prepare certain amount of ingredients for each recipe.

“Taking a motorcycle taxi” is one of the most exhilarating things for tourists. Riding on the motorcycle is a cool solution for traffic congestion here in Thailand.

Once you are a tour buddy, the best thing is to design a tour program based on your interest and favorite hobbies. If you are a food lover or enjoy tasting foods, you can add ‘Eating Tour’, or ‘One Day Thai Food Tour’, for example, to your program and take the tourists to famous food places. More choices, if you, your relatives or close friends are cooking gurus, customize a fun and private food tour for the tourists at your home, and end the day with home brew coffee if you are a good coffee maker.  Alternatively, add cultural activities like local market shopping, Thai boxing show, bike riding or unseen adventurous trips nearby.

Open your mind! Step up to the challenge by being a Tour Buddy to make friends with foreigners. All opportunities lie ahead of you; develop English skills, create ‘story-to-tell’, and build relationships beyond borders. Last but not least, you can make money from all those matters.