Trip Coordinator, Job Description, Application Process
See below for qualifications required, and for the application process.
In 2017 we have an open position for a French-speaking candidate (Italian or Spanish additionally helpful).
Our Trip Coordinator job is the “sexier” of our two itinerant jobs. You swan around Europe for the summer (and spring, and fall), going to nice restaurants with nice people, and biking through beautiful countryside.
Of course, if that were all there were to it, you would be a client on one of our trips, and be paying us, instead of applying for a job where we pay you. No, there is a lot of work involved. In order for people (our guests) to pay you to travel with them, you have to bring a pretty impressive skill set and work ethic to the table....
We have a long shopping list of criteria we look for in a Trip Coordinator. If your short life has permitted you to meet all of these criteria, and you are willing to share your expertise with your fellow travellers, then you are hired, now. Get to Paris, and report to work. No need to send an application.
Of course, in that case, you don't want the job, because you are actually a superhero, or perhaps a space alien, and you have other things to do with your time.
But if you have most of the qualities on our list, along with a few flaws which we will all try to overlook, then we can talk.... A brief overview of the job follows, and the qualifications needed to apply can be found at the bottom of the page.
Profile and Job Description
As Trip Coordinators, we are above all hosts. Our fellow travellers are our guests, and we owe it to them to make them feel welcome and comfortable on our trips. In order to accomplish this, consistently and for all types of people, we must ourselves, individually, “feel” it. We are genuinely friendly, social, and generous people, attentive to the needs of others.
These are not usually characteristics that can be learned as an adult, if they can be learned at all (this is not the place for the “nature versus nurture” debate). Before you apply, consider carefully whether they describe you. Your enjoyment of the job, and your professional success, will depend on honest self-appraisal in this department.
We act as cultural intermediaries between our guests and the cultures of the countries through which we pass. We translate menus, explain local customs, and deal with restaurants and hotels. As “New Worlders,” this means that we must know quite a bit about Europe, or at least the part of it in which we are travelling, in order to fulfill the expectations of our guests. If we are native European, we must instead have lived somewhere in the “New World,” and for long enough to understand how our long-lost cousins tick, and we must view them with sympathy and understanding.
We are group leaders: we maintain a positive group dynamic. At the same time, we remain attentive to individual needs, and especially to an individual guest’s need for privacy and discretion. Again, the ability to relate to, work well with, and be sensitive to the needs of a wide variety of people, is indispensable to our work.
We handle all the administrative detail of travel for our guests, making reservations, buying tickets, paying bills, and assisting in the transport of bikes and luggage, usually by rail. Since we control the trip budget, careful record keeping is required, and good organizational / managerial skills are needed. This is one of the hardest aspects of the job, and one of great importance. It is not enough to bring in a shoe box full of receipts at the end of the summer: much more is expected of us in the domain of record keeping.
We understand and agree with our company’s mission statement: the creation of small-footprint, ecological trips, that do their best to show off the countries and cultures through which they pass. Our goal is not so much as economy as discretion, essential to making ourselves (and our guests) welcome in the places we travel.
We trust and support each other, in all circumstances. And we, ourselves, merit the trust that we ask of our colleagues.
We repair and maintain bicycles, and are able to help guests with any bicycle related question or issue. Training is available, and recommended. This knowledge is indispensible, but we can help you acquire it, if needed.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must be flexible and quick thinking, since we will often be called upon to solve unanticipated problems as they arise.
...this is a great job once you've learned the ropes. But it is not a great job at first. It is difficult, complex work, for which you are on call all the time, and (initially) poorly paid. Keeping on top of your obligations to your guests and your colleagues, while maintaining your sanity, requires efficient organization, high energy, infinite patience, and a rich sense of humor. You will quickly discover that as a Coordinator, cycling is not your first priority. If you just want to ride your bike around Europe with fun people, you are looking for a vacation, not a job. May we suggest one of our trips?
Paradoxically, as the pay improves year to year, the job gets easier and more fun. With the result that most of our Coordinators stay for many years. The average our last four “full-timers” was 10 years of service each. So, clearly, there are worse ways to make a living. And, once you have worked for a full, 4-month or more season, you can come back in subsequent years, and just lead for a week or two...
Qualifications required to apply for the job of Trip Coordinator.
In order to be considered for this position, you MUST...
- ...above all, be an enthusiastic “people person,” an all-around kind individual.
- You should have a love of travel, a profound appreciation for cultures that are not your own, and for food and wine.
This is probably the only job for which you will ever apply where “I drink a lot” is a plus on your application form. Well, within reason... :-).
- You must be available for at least four months (more preferred) in the period between May 15th and October 31st. It helps to be able to work at either the beginning or the end of this time span, if not both.
European tourist visas are only valid for three months. While we are not required to verify the legal status of independent contractors, there is a risk of deportation for overstaying a visa.
- You must be proficient in non-English Western European languages (English is assumed). French is generally the most useful, followed by Italian, and one of those two is essential. If you speak only Italian, you will have to fill in as a Baggage Master at times, or accept unpaid time off during your tenure.
Consideration is given to candidates who speak only French, but even for fluent French speakers it is a considerable advantage to speak an additional Western European language.
We cannot consider candidates, even for part-time employment, whose only non-English European language is Spanish. Yes, we know, everyone told you to study Spanish in school, it was “so much more useful.” Well it is, in Bolivia. But not in Europe. We do not have enough trips operating in Spain to make it an economic proposition to train you, nor to keep you busy were we to train you, and Spanish does not have the role of international language in Europe that it does in the Americas.
- You will need excellent organizational skills.
- You must possess the physical ability to comfortably ride all our routes and handle some heavy lifting (you must be able to lift a bicycle laden with 40 lbs. of luggage to chest height).
Applications can be considered from candidates of any age. However, working as a Trip Coordinator requires a high level of maturity and sophistication (generally most visible through past professional and educational experience). Further, the ability to rent a car is essential in emergency situations. Most rental car companies will not accept rentals from drivers under 23, and require the driver to be 25 in order to avoid hefty insurance surcharges. Thus most successful applicants are at least 23 years old, and generally older. We do not encourage younger applicants.
We apologize if what follows sounds harsh: we receive many, many carefully-prepared applications every year, but which do not meet the above criteria. (Not counting, or even taking seriously, e.mail resumés sent to every company on some endless list.) Shortcomings on points 3 and 4 are the easiest to identify, and youth, while beautiful, is not seen as such by rental car companies.
While we consider all applications received, at least those we can read, and have even offered positions to otherwise exceptional candidates who fell short on one or another “basic” point, we do not normally respond to those who do not qualify to apply. Doing so with any other than a curt rejection letter (worse than no reply at all, in our view) would occupy all of our waking hours. We beg for your indulgence.
1st year pay is low, but costs are lower (all living expenses are paid). The formula is complex, but if you work full-time, you should be able to bank about 500€ a month after expenses. In other words, you will not be able to take the winter off for the the first couple of years, but you will certainly have enough to relax until Christmas.... Salary progresses by at least 25% per year for the first four years: experienced Coordinators are well compensated.
If you are qualified to apply, and can work for at least 4 months of the coming cycling season, please fill out the application form. If you have questions before doing so, please address them to firstname.lastname@example.org.