Working with Marmot Tours
Last Updated on Monday, 17 October 2011 09:30
Working with Marmot Tours
Thanks for taking the time to look in a bit more detail at the information we have posted here about working with Marmot Tours. We can have a tendency to waffle so hopefully its not too detailed, but we would like to put down enough info for you to get a good idea about what working with Marmot Tours might involve, so you can judge better whether or not it is for you.
What are we looking for?
Our main expansion over the last 2 years has been in the field of road cycling trips, particularly those at the more challenging end of the spectrum. We have expanded the number and variety of road cycling 'holidays' in the summer season (May to September), to meet the demand from both new and loyal Marmot clients. We are therefore looking for people to help run our road cycling trips as either Lead Guides, or assistant guides.
The staff on the Marmot Tours team are hugely important. When we (James and Cathy) set up Marmot Tours, we ran all the trips ourselves and so were able to actively influence all the contact we had with our clients, and the quality of each clients experience. We now rely on their team to do the same thing, and to bring the same level of friendliness, organisation, professionalism and detail to the Marmot Tours holidays. Marmot Tours is lucky enough to have a high percentage of return clients, who have enjoyed one of the products and come back for more. This is down to the hard work and enthusiasm of the Marmot Tours team who help to make the holiday a succesful one for each client.
You would need to have experience of running group holidays (not necessarily in road cycling), and of managing the day to day issues with the activity, client management, transport, accomodation and of course health and safety. You would be supported fully in this role by Marmot Tours office (Cathy) and king of logistics (James) who jointly manage the trip logistics, hotel reservations, client bookings and payments etc.
Essential Skills required are:
- Excellent organisational skills
- Good observation skills and attention to detail
- Over 5 years driving experience and current driving license
- Group management experience
- Proactive work ethic
- Enthusiastic and approachable
- Confidence to talk to a group in public
- Excellent interpersonal skills for working with clients and hotels
- Some knowledge of French language
- Team work skills - you work very closely with your co leader, but also with the Marmot Tours office.
Also desirable (but not essential):
- First Aid Qualification and experience as a first aider
- Basic bike mechanic skills
We are looking for the same essential skills but without the group management experience above... basically the personal profile is the same for any leader, regardless of the 'level'. As with the Lead Guide spec, a first aid qualification and bike mechanic skills are desirable but not essential as we would be able to look at these as part of a training programme.
What kind of Commitment are we looking for?
Obviously, the ideal for us, is to find someone who would like to work a season with us, as it gives us more flexibility in planning our staffing. However, we are very happy to build up a network of suitable people to help out on trips here and there over the period of a few years, who we can call on if need be, or who can contact us if they are looking for a few weeks work at a set time.
While ideally we have to plan some way in advance, we can be very flexible with who works when or where, and will always aim to fit in with anyone's exisiting plans/hopes.
So the basic message here is: as long as you are looking for 3 weeks worth of work or more during a season, then it is worth getting in touch. We will always have to consider costs of getting someone out here to run a trip when planning our calender, so someone with consecutive weeks available is great for us, but we know that it doesn't always work like that! A very succesful method in the past has been for people to work a week, then have a week off to explore the area (Pyrenees, Alps or Corsica) and do their own thing, then do another week of work etc....
How would I be employed, and what is the Pay deal?
Most of the members of the existing Marmot Tours team are self employed and invoice us direct for the work they do. We have a works contract for our seasonal workers but they are not 'employed' by Marmot Tours. We are however also set up to employ staff under the UK PAYE system so that is also appropriate. Individuals working for us who live in France are registered as 'autoentrepreneurs', the French equivalent of being self employed.
We have a pay scheme for Lead Guides and Assistant Guides, and for new staff and experienced staff. It is fair to say that you are not going to become a millionaire working for Marmot Tours, however the rates are very competitive for the activity holiday guiding market. We can give more details on pay if you are interested, and get in touch. Obviously all costs for all guides re hotels (B & B) is taken care of, and we give a 10E/day lunch allowance per working day.
Depending on your individual situation, we may be able to give you self catering accomodation for a period of time before, after or inbetween trips while you go out and play/explore!
What training would I get?
All new staff, either Lead guides or assistant guides, would have a week 'on the road' training with James to get a feel for exactly how a trip runs and what is required. This is backed up with leader notes and trip specific notes. You would also be given an office induction to look at the various Company policies, and managing trip accounts and admin. Further practical training would be given re bike maintenance skills, and awareness re our Marmot Tours vehicles (changing tyres etc). We are happy to look at sending people on an appropriate first aid course depending on their level of availability for trips.
So at last I get round to telling you what you may be doing....
Client support - a huge and varied role and the best bit of the job... We are there to ensure they have a good holiday and so the role involves morale support if required, physical support in terms of snacks/water/mechanical help/advice re routes/health & safety etc etc. With the harder trips such as the Raids, being 'there' for the clients, enthusiastic, friendly, approachable, honest and personable is a key part in making their day manageable
Driving - (unfortunately quite a bit of it!) airport transfers, moving luggage on from point to point, shopping for trip supplies etc.
Liaising with the hotels - room allocation and putting clients bags in their rooms, ensuring dietary requirements are met, dealing with any issues with rooms
Keeping the group informed - meeting the group at the airport, letting them know as appropriate; where to be, when, distances, lunch spots, water, where the van will next be, route tips, health & safety issues (tricky descents etc). Main trip briefings are done on the first night of a trip, then there are nightly briefings (also fondly known as 'demotivationals!') during dinner when the whole group is assembled.
Bike Maintenance - daily maintenance of hire bikes during a trip, and emergency maintenance where appropriate of client bikes / trips to bike shop / loaning out of hire bike etc
Entuhsiastic flag waving, banner waving, Marmot waving - you can never have too much of this!
Managing group dynamics as appropriate - this may just be about being friendly and sociable or may need a bit more input depending on the group.
Constant liasion with whoever you are running the trip with - updating each other on where clients are, how they are doing, who is cycling with who, who is tired, who had a puncture so is behind a bit etc etc.
I thought you said there was some play involved!?
Its a fair point.... the above is not difficult in terms of complexity, but it is quite a lot to be aware of and days are pretty long by anyone's standards (generally 6.45 am till 9.30/10.00 pm depending on the group). If a trip runs smoothly and all goes well then there is time to chill on a col in the sunshine with a good book, and work on that tan, or if you are Nathan, then plan some good gags but surprisingly little time as with groups of 20, there is always someone on the way past who needs a quick chat, some photos to take, some snacks to buy, some van orgnaising to do etc etc!
On trips with good weather, and depending on the group, then there can be time for a run or a cycle for a leader each day at the end of the day, but its not always the case so we can't say that it is part of the normal working day.
Some road cycling companies have guides that cycle with the clients, which for cyclists, would be a great attraction, but I'm afraid this isn't a route we are going down as legally you can only do that in France if you have road cycling qualifications. We also find that it doesn't offer particularly good support to a lot of the group as it means a group has to stick together more, and can put pressure on the slower riders. Whilst we know that our leader role is less exciting for keen cyclists to want to try, we believe it is better for the clients.
So, instead, what we suggest is that we discuss with everyone individually whether we can arrange a schedule of week on, week off, week on etc, so that staff have access to the mountains during a rest week rather than trying to cram in the odd bit during a work week. As mentioned before, we have some self catering accomodation in the Pyrenees which is available for staff to use.
A last point to make: this is a job where the more you put in, the more you get out of it. We have a fabulous clientele that come out on our trips, some of them again and again. They are interesting people to chat to and it is great to be able to support them on these challenges. They are very appreciative of good customer service, and we get very positive feedback which is always lovely to read. At Marmot Tours we very much try to share the achivement of pulling off a good trip as we know the effort and attention to detail that goes into it.