When I stopped doing the wine tours I said that I was always available for corporate tours or private charters in the luxury car or sub-contract bookings, on an as-needs basis.
Corporate tours generally mean management type people who are looking for a quality experience, rather than just out to get drunk, and they appreciate my specialised knowledge. The same with the private charters: they usually want to pay a premium for a happy occasion and, even if they are out to get trashed, they exist in enough of a small volume for me to be comfortable handling them in an ethical and legal way.
Sub-contract bookings have nothing to do with wine tours. Basically, somebody set up a company that claimed to do all of these amazing things all over Australia but didn’t have the infrastructure to support it anywhere apart from their home office. So they reach out to locals, who offer local knowledge and expertise. They provide an itinerary, guidelines (remarkably few considering the degree of separation), and a branded shirt. Generally, these tours are heritage/cultural/experience based, in that order.
There is a major company that subcontracts out through us for its Perth tours and I do most of the ones that involve 4 people or less (the wine touring company has a luxury car that only fits that many); sometimes I act as a driver with a foreign language interpreter.
But the company that contracts out to us also contracts out to other companies. My standard uniform is black tailored pants and crisp white collared shirt: I often have to add on/replace a lot of the following – company name badge; company colour tie; company car signs. I also try every time to research the company I am supposed to represent so that I can do the best job possible and the tour I am meant to be doing, as it is often very ‘fly by the seat of your pants stuff’, I do sometimes feel like a bit of a fraud, coming into it so far down the line.
The whole uniform/different company/last minute thing happened yesterday. They loved me and it wasn’t a problem. And I even think I looked cute in that incredibly dorky yellow and purple tie that I had NO idea how to tie! I really enjoyed spending time with them and I know that they felt the same way because they didn’t tip me.
(I’ve noted in the past that the people I relate to most in the course of my work situation regard our interaction as a personal connection and, just as they wouldn’t feel the need to pay their friends/family for a shared and enjoyed experience, they don’t feel the need to pay me.
I am aware that I am in the minority with this as far as gratuities go. An awful lot of tourism road crew expect it, if not actively soliciting it. I never expect it and, if I ever get it, I am so thrilled that somebody thought my performance was good enough to go out of their way to reward it.)
Anyway, I am kept on as a specialist knowledge operator (aka professional bullshit artist) and I do quite a few of these specialist tours. I had one yesterday, which was delightful. An English couple, from the upper social strata; they were very well connected and we swapped family stories. Five hours of driving all over the city and we bonded incredibly well. I learnt all about their lives and they heard about mine. It would be so insulting to have money change hands at that point. I am grateful for the opportunity to have met and learned from two such interesting people.
I’ve had a few of these tours now and I always enjoy them. It is just enough to keep me from being totally bored and I am grateful that I am at least bringing in some money, whilst I try for a longer term position.