As brands start rolling out plans for summer and fall tours, I have been reminiscing about my time on the road as a Tour Manager. I was able to travel the country at a young age, meeting inspiring people and exploring interesting places while representing top brands. It was an exciting and dynamic chapter of my life and I have many fond memories from those years.
The experiences I had during that time also helped shape the person I am today. Being a Tour Manager is not just a job, it is a fully immersive experience that grooms you for your future. A few life lessons I credit to my time on the road…
Be Resourceful – As we have all learned in the past year, life can throw unexpected curveballs. As a Tour Manager you learn to confidently navigate the unknown and embrace change. Schedules shift, weather is unpredictable, shipments are delayed, hotels are overbooked. Despite diligent planning, there are often unexpected surprises when arriving on site that could impact your load in process, the consumer journey, branding opportunities and the overall vibe of the activation. With so many variables constantly in flux, you never know what to expect from the day ahead. As a result, being able to quickly identify solutions to challenges is essential to success as a Tour Manager. This resourcefulness becomes an inherent behavior in experienced tour staff and is beneficial to all personal and professional endeavors.
Know your Audience – When traveling from coast to coast it is important to be aware that people, personalities and perception will change from one location to the next. Being mindful of cultural nuances between markets and reading verbal and non-verbal cues from each guest allows you to make small adjustments that can help the experience resonate while ensuring core messaging and takeaways remain intact. This ability to read the room helps build meaningful connections with colleagues, clients, partners and friends, and will remain a valuable skill long after touring days are over.
Explore your Skills – In my 7 years as a Tour Manager I became an expert on Fujifilm digital cameras, held workshops to teach retailers about and Dunlop tire technology, introduced a new demographic to Twisted Tea, served up Tyson chicken nuggets, helped kids find their perfect fit in New Balance sneakers and spread joy while driving a parade-worthy fully customized vehicle for Nestlé. Each program required me to get up to speed quickly on both the brand and the overall industry, and provided the opportunity to explore different parts of my personality and skillset. The project-based nature of experiential marketing helps Tour Managers discover the environments in which they shine the most, which guides future career and lifestyle choices.
Be Accountable – As a Tour Manager, the execution of a program that took months of planning is sitting on your shoulders. Any day that the tour does not activate is a day missed on the event calendar. If you don’t show up as your best self, you could have a negative impact on how the brand is received. Having this level of responsibility throughout my 20’s helped me quickly develop a very strong work ethic that kept me motivated through long activation days, extremely hot (and cold) temps, physical aches and pains, hiccups in my personal life and more. Tour Managers don’t understand the concept of “punching the clock” and will do whatever it takes to get the job done right, and this dedication is a strong asset to any future role/team.
Maintain a Healthy Work/Life Balance – As a Tour Manager you are fully immersed in a program for weeks, months or even years at a time. Off days are spent in hotels in unfamiliar towns versus at home with friends and family, and the variability of schedule can make it challenging to maintain wellness routines, so it becomes especially important to carve out time to reset to ensure you don’t get burnt out. During a 3 year tour for Fujifilm we decided to visit as many National Parks as our schedule allowed. Having this goal to rally around as a team helped motivate us to make time for these outings. Tour Managers who are able to find a healthy work/life balance amongst the hectic nature of life on the road will be able to incorporate this awareness and action to any future career path.
The leadership team at Encore Nationwide has logged many miles as Tour Managers and knows how to screen for candidates who embody the above. Whether you are looking for Managers, Brand Ambassadors, Emcees, Drivers, Labor or any other event-based role for tours or market-based programs, we hand select the best staff for your specific event needs and utilize our detailed health and safety protocol to deliver successful and safe activations. We are here to help brands get back in the field, on the road, and in front of consumers.