International Tour Management Institute (ITMI)

The Premier Training Institute for Tour & Travel Professionals Since 1976

Making the World a Better Place Through Travel

Max Davidson

Hometown: Vancouver, Canada

ITMI graduation year:  2008

Travel bucket list: Delaware, South Carolina, Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand (via several countries in South America)

Tour essentials: Sense of humor, comfortable shoes, alarm clock

...every guest on every tour I do is “famous” since this is how I try to make them feel when they finish the tour and we leave each other ‘until we meet again’.
Working with Tauck

What or who inspired you to become a tour director?

Following my early retirement from a full-time career as a Psychiatric Nurse, I felt I really was not ready to fully retire from the work force and needed to find something to fill the void. Being what many friends refer to as a “people person,” I was coaxed into becoming a Tour Director by a close friend and neighbor who at the time worked as a Tour Director.

How do you balance your personal life with your travel career?

Balance in one's life is something I have, fortunately, been able to manage throughout my working life and in my previous careers both as a nurse as well as a figure skating coach. Nowadays, this balance is maintained by making certain I stick to my guns and only work in the industry six months a year (mid-April to mid-September), which allows me six months each year to “do my own thing” which includes plenty of R&R along with a lot of personal travel.

What qualities do you feel make for a good tour director?

There are so many qualities that go into making a good tour director. Personally speaking, a sense of humor goes a long way. In addition, having the ability to “think on your feet” when the unexpected happens – and most tour directors know how often this can occur – without going into panic mode is both an asset as well as a good quality. And of course, a good tour director has to love people and love working with them in a number and variety of different situations. Finally, being able to realize and accept that every single traveler is a unique person.

What advice would you give to a first-time traveler?

Find a reputable travel agent, ask lots and lots of questions, read the brochures and fine print before you finalize the deal. And remember, the only stupid question a first-time traveler might have is the one they didn't ask.

What destinations are on your travel bucket list?

Delaware, South Carolina, Hawaii in the US of A since they are the only states I have not visited, and of course, Australia, and New Zealand (via several countries in South America).

What are three things you must always take with you?

My sense of humor always goes with me, two pair of comfortable shoes since I try to change shoes in the middle of every travel day to keep my feet fresh and alert, and my own alarm clock since I don't always trust hotel wake-up calls.

If you could design your own customized tour to reflect your passions what would it look like?

I think I would want to have my customized tour consist of not more than thirty guests on a coach that was configured to handle that number thus allowing everyone lots of leg room.  I would definitely want it to be in the Canadian Rockies with three-night stops in places such as Banff and Jasper, Alberta. And of course, I would definitely make certain guests had plenty of opportunity to engage themselves in the local culture and experience the amazing scenery and sense of adventure this part of the world offers them. 

Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and where you’d like to take them.

For me, every guest on every tour I do is “famous” since this is how I try to make them feel when they finish the tour and we leave each other “until we meet again.”

How has tour directing impacted your perspective of the world?

I have been fortunate to have met travelers from all over the world in my “post-retirement” career as a tour director. As such, when I hear their stories about their country and where they live along with their customs and way of life, I have come to realize just how lucky I am to live in Canada – the best country on the planet, bar none!     

What advice would you give someone if they wanted to become a tour director or guide?

I think the best suggestion I might make for a prospective tour director or guide would be to get properly certified. In addition, use your life experience, however much you might have, and find a “niche” you will fit into comfortably and make it work for you.        

Do you agree that a tour director is actually an ambassador of goodwill? If so, why?

Yes. As tour directors we are definitely ambassadors of goodwill since we often not only represent a company we might be working for, but more often than not, we represent our own country in more ways than we realize.