- You won’t get rich being a battlefield guide; therefore you should ensure you have a regular secondary income that will cover your monthly outgoings, whether it’s a part-time job or a pension.
- If you’ve never guided before or don’t have a lot of experience, you should consider going on a course to learn about the trade and the craft of guiding. There’s a newly formed company that’s been specifically set-up to provide this service called Travel Guide Training and Validation Limited. TGT-V will give you the training you need, but it won’t give you a qualification.
- For that, you should consider joining the International Guild of Battlefield Guides. The Guild holds many events through the year where you’d have the opportunity to learn more about the craft, network and socialize with liked minded people with an interest in military history and battlefield guiding. Once in the Guild you can then tread the path towards becoming a qualified Battlefield Guide through the Guild’s Validation program. The Guild is an industry partner of the European Tour Operators Association and as a member; you’ll be able to apply for an ETOA Card through the Guild.
- Have public liability insurance. If you join the Guild you can benefit from their scheme. It’s extremely competitive and will cater for low tour volumes, which is good for those just starting out.
- Get some experience under your belt – offer to take your friends on a ‘not for profit’ tour and ask them for their constructive feedback on all aspects of your tour; planning, preparation, timings, travel, accommodation, meals, tour content and the delivery of your stands. Don’t dismiss any comments especially negative ones – learn from them – it will make you a better guide.
And finally, remember a tour is just as much a social event as trip to the battlefields. Don’t battlefield them out – allow enough time for your clients to have a beer, or two!
The picture above is of me rubbing the head of the brass monkey outside Mons Town Hall for good luck, probably just as some of the men of “A” Company of the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers would have done prior to the Battle of Mons in 1914.