100 euros a week for a mtb guide job?

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  • 100 euros a week for a mtb guide job?
  • Mackem
    Member

    People tip guides?

    That’s never even occurred to me, I’ve paid for my holiday and assumed the guide must be getting paid what he feels is ok from that. I’m not tight either, seriously, never even thought about a tip.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    Well done doug@basquemtb. Spot on approach. We used to pay apprentices slightly more than that per week (@£100pw), with all food, accommodation and bills, and help with kit and uniform. In return, they earned a pile of outdoor qualifications, and with each ticket their wage went up. At the end of the 3 years, they had far more disposable income than I had as CI on a salary, as all their bills were paid.

    As with any job, quality is worth paying for, for both a smooth, well run and safe holiday, and for when things start to unravel.

    Mackem
    Member

    Although the idea of being a guide seems attractive I suspect the reality isnt always that good. I know I wouldnt want to do it. Being responsible for those people, having to be cheerful, having to ride not because you want to ride.

    It seems bonkers that an mtb company wouldnt pay their guides properly, surely they are the most important thing on a mountain bike holiday?

    Premier Icon jambalaya
    Subscriber

    OP you estimate above you’d have 10 guests paying €700, the companies I’ve been with the max group size is 6 and on the last holiday it was 4. That changes the economics a lot. You also state that for €100 a week the guests coukd be eating in restaurants, not in the mountains you cannot and in fact no where else where food and wine is included. I also tip the guide if they are good (and they generally are).

    I’d also back up the ski/mtb comparison, ski guides/teachers are better qualified (and those qualifications cost circa €5000 plus to get) and ski customers pay more for the guiding. You will earn more working for the official mtb school but in practical terms you’ll struggle to get a job there due to qualification requirements (I am sure I read on another thread it’s €10,000 for qualification) then you have the “closed shop” elements to deal with and after all that you are paid based on bookings (so uncertain) and you have to lay your own accommodation and food.

    The owners of these companies are the one’s taking the risks, hiring staff, booking accommodation, supplying vehicles and for a season which is pretty short to recover that outlay.

    You are implying you want €1000 a month with paid board and lodging, my eldest 2 daughters work full time in the uk having got postgraduate level qualifications and they have less than €100 a week to spend in themselves after food, lodging, transport etc.

    Fact is a lot of people are interested in mtb guiding as a summer job, if they get to ride for 8 weeks in the Alps for “free” they are happy.

    torsoinalake
    Member

    People tip guides?

    You should also have a whip around for the chalet staff too.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    What I forgot to add is that the outdoor industry is also a place where many will offer a low wage, knowing there are a queue of monkeys waiting to take it. So many people take student / summer /couple of years jobs, thinking you get to canoe, bike or climb sell day in sunnies and sports. They are disappointed quickly by the 12 hour days, wet Wednesdays with another difficult group on the same trail or activity you have done for the last week solid…
    For those who stay in the industry, they tend to be real people persons, or really into adventure and nature. Most who do it for the adrenaline / tan and girls /shiny kit /work avoidance tend to leave pronto.

    Premier Icon jambalaya
    Subscriber

    @Maxkem – guides are important and I’d rather have them but location, quality of food, accomodation and scouting of trails plus the availability of van uplift are the most important things. I can read a map and with directions and If needed a GPS I can find my own way around.

    Mackem
    Member

    For me, so long as the bed is comfy then the accomodation doesnt have to be anything flash. I prefer to eat out in restaurants on holiday. One of the big things for me, on holiday, is not having to faff around with maps. Guides usually know some trails that might not be widely known.

    Qualifications?

    some companies specify their guides have qualifications, proudly cite this to customers then go on to breach the guidelines those same qualifications state on things like guide/client ratios…

    I’d agree that pay is held down by the “summer job” market, with people happily doing it short-term as a way to get a subsidised season riding.

    deepreddave
    Member

    Market forces innit? Seems a lot like a Travel Rep’s role to me but if so then very few people do that for more than a season or 2. Sympathies to the OP and Doug’s post says a lot for his company/approach 🙂

    torihada
    Member

    Mackem – Member
    People tip guides?

    That’s never even occurred to me, I’ve paid for my holiday and assumed the guide must be getting paid what he feels is ok from that. I’m not tight either, seriously, never even thought about a tip.

    We always have a whip for the chalet staff and the guide/s. They’re usually the ones that have made the holiday enjoyable. We all know they’re not making much money, so stick your hand in your pocket and show your appreciation.

    Mackem
    Member

    tbh it’s a moot point, as nowadays I cant afford an MTB holiday. 🙁

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    People tip guides?

    Tipped guides on every bike trip we’ve been on. Last one we were on everyone agreed to put 50 Euros in, so with 10 in the group the guides (3 of them, two riding and one driving) got 500 Euros between them. Think the biggest tip I’ve left has been about 70 Euros. Same for Chalet hosts when skiing, most people leave a tip if the service has been good.

    hora
    Member

    I bet I holidayed with one of the cheap ass companies. One of the guides put sugar in the company minibuses tank!

    Premier Icon jambalaya
    Subscriber

    @matt and @basque it’s great to get a sense of perspective from the inside and for that to be here on STW for public record.

    @winterfold “middle aged men” !!! You git how very dare you 🙂

    mark88
    Member

    At least £100 per week as a proper guide beats being paid the same working for a tour operator. I worked for a large holiday company a few years back, qualified guides were paid around £400pm to lead very boring rides aimed largely at non bikers, as well as maintaining the full fleet of bikes and helping with other activities.
    As said earlier, they knew there was no shortage of people on gap years and beach bums that would take the job, so no need to do anything about it.

    dirksdiggler
    Member

    Most importantly, what are your expectations of remuneration?

    JonEdwards
    Member

    I’ve done the short notice back up guide thing a couple of times, for companies who I’ve stayed as a guest with multiple times and so know the area. Effectively you have to treat it like a cost neutral holiday. Each one cost me flights, a set of tyres and a pair of brake pads for a couple of weeks of alpine riding.

    Whether that feels good value or not depends on how the company treats you, and then what the guests are like. I ended up working far harder for one company looking after the hire bikes, dinner service, etc; but the environment was much more pleasant and far less stressful – I also had my own room. The other company was 5 guys to a room (although we did have a good craic) and I had a nightmare bunch of guests who were complete and utter lemmings on the bike and animals off them! (they did tip well though!) Swings and roundabouts.

    Would I want to do it full time, now, aged 39? Nope. But it would have been pretty cool if I’d been able to do it straight out of Uni, with no ties and no expected standard of living.

    RayMazey
    Member

    doug_basqueMTB.com – Member

    I got an application from a guy who was getting a basic pay but the company he was working for charged him for food and accommodation. At the end of the week he had to give them money. It’s wrong. The first time you find yourself on the hill with someone with a broken leg you will know how much of a responsible job it is. I pay my guides properly and I expect them to do a proper job, they don’t mess about, the don’t treat it as a holiday for themselves and they get paid for it. It’s not going to buy them a Ferrari but it is a proper, legal wage.

    You get the other side though. I charge 50€ a day for day guiding and every year I get people telling me its too expensive. I had a group of four tell me it was a rip off because they “could get a ski guide for that”, how do you even respond to that?

    Lots of other holiday companies pay properly too, having spoken to some of them about it. Like others say its not a job you do for money but similarly there should be a compensation attached to the responsibility, no?

    Maybe it’s best for me to keep my mouth shut on things this close to home but its something I feel strongly about.

    Spot on. Not an easy job, if you want to do a good job. Chances are, if you are enjoying it too much, then you are probably not working hard enough 😀

    Premier Icon cb
    Subscriber

    I’ve only been on three biking holidays – on two of them 100 Euros a week would have been over paying the guides! Bike Verbier, the guides were the owners and it showed – couldn’t have been better.

    Will try BasqueMTB next I think!

    hora
    Member

    Tipping the guides- I’d buy them a couple of beers but I wouldn’t tip. It’d probably equate to near-on 10euros but for me giving cash is just another ‘tax’ if it makes sense. Beers feels better.

    Premier Icon stevomcd
    Subscriber

    Just to stick our oar in – we pay our guides properly. 2 of the guides are, of course, the owners so we’re not exactly on a day rate.

    Other guides we’ve employed have been highly-qualified professional guides and we’ve negotiated appropriate pay and conditions. Bike guiding, like ski instruction, is a job that you should be able to make a half-decent living off. Guides who can make half-decent money are able to stay in the profession, meaning that they are better-qualified, better-trained and more experienced, thus making a better experience for the client. We think that’s worth paying for.

    The whole “chalet job” salary situation is a big, ugly legal grey area. Accommodation, lift pass, food, etc. are not, strictly, allowed to contribute a significant part of the minimum wage in either France or the UK. However, for as long as the big boys of the industry (and we’re talking Crystal, Thomson, etc. here!) continue to pay on this basis then it becomes impossible for small players to compete without doing the same.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    JonEdwards – Member
    I’ve done the short notice back up guide thing a couple of times, for companies who I’ve stayed as a guest with multiple times and so know the area. Effectively you have to treat it like a cost neutral holiday. Each one cost me flights, a set of tyres and a pair of brake pads for a couple of weeks of alpine riding.

    matt_outandabout – Member
    What I forgot to add is that the outdoor industry is also a place where many will offer a low wage, knowing there are a queue of monkeys waiting to take it. So many people take student / summer /couple of years jobs, thinking you get to canoe, bike or climb sell day in sunnies and sports.

    The prosecution rests, m’lord.

    Premier Icon stevomcd
    Subscriber

    The prosecution rests, m’lord.

    *Like* 8)

    alpin
    Member

    JonEdwards – Member
    I’ve done the short notice back up guide thing a couple of times, for companies who I’ve stayed as a guest with multiple times and so know the area. Effectively you have to treat it like a cost neutral holiday. Each one cost me flights, a set of tyres and a pair of brake pads for a couple of weeks of alpine riding.

    there are quite a few people who work for the same company as me who have this attitude… a paid holiday. they tend not to come back after the first year or, if they do stick it out, complain lots and have more problems with guests/tour organisation.

    Premier Icon stevomcd
    Subscriber

    Jon – guiding is great fun and I can understand not being fussed about the money for doing a couple of weeks.

    But at the same time – you’re being ripped-off, big time. Coming in at short notice, you are (presumably) digging someone out of a major hole, not doing them a favour.

    This kind of work should be charged on a day rate (going rate for a qualified guide in the French Alps is €150-€250 per day) and you should be getting your expenses paid on top of that, not covering them yourself.

    Unfortunately, it was ever thus in the outdoor industry. Too many people willing to work for free.

    JonEdwards
    Member

    The prosecution rests, m’lord.

    I wouldn’t argue with you there…

    Again, it all comes down to working conditions. One company I was a second guide in the group, due to its size. So largely I had to lead the way on the DHs (or play sweeper and fix punctures!) and chat to/help motivate the guests on the climbs. Easy work, very little responsibility – all teh “mountain leadership” stuff was done by the head guide. It was also for the co. who’d paid for my qualification and first aid tickets, so I had absolutely no problem doing it.

    The second bunch, I arrived with the guests, and it was pretty much “there’s your group, see you in a week’s time”. That was hard, stressful work. The first week I was leading guests on trails I hadn’t ridden in a year, the second week was the lemmings. It was a bloody steep learning curve and I wouldn’t work for them again unwaged.

    Thing is, I can kinda see it from the company point of view as well? As someone filling in for a broken “proper” guide, or helping out during an extra busy week, I’m never going to be as good as one who’s doing it week in, week out, so I wouldn’t expect to be paid as one. That said, I’m also aware that while there’s people like me willing to do odd weeks/fortnights for nothing, then I’m not doing the pay rates for the real guides any favours. Swings and roundabouts again.

    hora
    Member

    Question- does ‘one’ of these companies start with the letter A?

    A lot of interesting comments on here, many of them pretty insightful

    It happens to be a subject close to my heart since we’re actually looking to take on new staff to train up at the moment. Recruiting and retaining the best staff is something that we’ve spent a long time trying to get right over the years – and after 12 years, we’re still learning I must admit!

    (Anyone reading this thread actually still looking for a job – get in quick because we are interviewing this month):
    http://www.trailaddiction.com/guiding-jobs.php

    There are never a shortage of keen applicants as many have pointed out here. Filtering out the right ones though, is the difficult bit. Part of that of course is offering the right pay deal for the right people.

    Im surprised no-one has yet pointed out the obvious – regardless of your level of qualification, how can anyone actually “guide” if they don’t know where they are going properly, fully understand the local weather conditions and terrain, etc? (Generally speaking it takes at least a whole season where we operate before you’d be good enough to lead and be responsible for a group on your own, totally unaided IMHO)

    In terms of pay for a good / experienced / fully qualified guide, Im definitely with Doug and Stevo. Its also a no-brainer if you want to offer a good holiday experience to customers. In my opinion the guides are THE most important part of any holiday. (For those who think otherwise, might it be that you never have been lucky enough to go out with a REALLY good guide before?) Put it this way, to our top guides we pay enough to get them back year after year (some are going into their 10th season now!) and we even have one senior guide who flies over from Queenstown (NZ), with his wife and child every summer in tow, just to come and work for us. And this is someone who runs his own guiding company in Queenstown during the European winter so its not like its his only biking fix of the year.

    For a new guide / first season “trainee” (where basically the company you work for will be, investing a lot of time to train you up at their cost) the comparison to a apprentice scheme someone else mentioned is very much a good one. The realistic alternative for someone wanting to get into the game, would be to pay your own way in a resort for a season, train yourself (if you can!), then go in straight for the ‘big bucks’ next time around. But that first season will likely land you in a lot of debt. And could be pretty lonely, too.

    What Im getting around to is, that 100 Euros a week is, I agree, not a lot (and will probably only attract people who are in it for a bit of a laugh). This might be genuinely OK for some operators – lets say where the routes are easy to learn and the paying customers are more recreational bikers than hardcore. But hoping for 400 Euros a week PLUS all your catering, accommodation, lift pass, bike, etc? I think you’ll be lucky to find anywhere that can offer that in your first season.

    I remember landing a job in a top finance firm straight out of Uni. It was officially listed as the number 1 Graduate job in the UK at the time, according to The Times. I thought I had it made when I saw the salary they were paying me and immediately dropped my original plan of going to Whistler to be a guide for a year. But by the time I’d paid my rent, travel, council taxes, car & house insurance, food and living costs, I recall having only 200 – 300 quid a month left over for “myself”.

    Compare that to working as a guide for a good company. I know that on the pay deals we are now offering this year, even my trainee guys should have at least that much left over per month – before considering tips on top.

    What would you rather do? Work in an office cowered over spreadsheets, emails and spouting management and strategy bullsh*t all day – or be out on your bike riding in the best places in the world and meeting new people who share your passion?

    I recently made that choice myself believe it or not. After 14 years of working as a guide (and running trailAddiction) each summer – BUT as a Chartered Engineer in the UK on >300 GBP a day, I recently made the choice to jump to full-time “lifestyle” rather than full-time “money”. On balance, so far so good, although bizarrely I still to be spending almost as much time on emails and spreadsheets as I used to! 🙁

    walleater
    Member

    I think I am still paying off the debt that I got into guiding in Whistler in 2007! 😀 🙄

    We were given ‘food’ (a couple of pieces of frozen pizza…) but often went into town for a second meal as it wasn’t enough. The couple of sets of free brake pads didn’t last long! I can’t exactly complain as I never went home but it was a bit of a joke.

    konabunny
    Member

    “What would you rather do? Work in an office cowered over spreadsheets, emails and spouting management and strategy bullsh*t all day – or be out on your bike riding in the best places in the world and meeting new people who share your passion?”

    I’m not unsympathetic to what you’re saying and realize you’re in a cutthroat casualised market BUT even if it’s fun and some people would do it for free, it’s ultimately work. And shouldn’t people who work full time jobs at least make enough money to support themselves at least, let alone a dependent – isn’t that the point of having minimum wage legislation? (BTW would most of the EU countries that didn’t have a formalized minimum wage not have collective bargaining arrangements in place that mean there is a minimum amount of money that anyone employed would make?)

    Similar problems with being a guide, responsible for accidents riding dh for €40 a day knowing the company isn’t even registered or insured. Not something to be involved with so I left very soon after finding out it was all about lining their own pockets.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Subscriber

    Don’t know anything at all about guiding, never used them, doubt I ever will. But it strikes me that it’s probably an industry where you would need to set up for yourself and trade of your own reputation to get anywhere, and set your own prices(ie don’t join the race to the bottom companies). Just going by this thread, seems clear that’s what the successful ones sound to be doing.

    andeh
    Member

    What qualifications do you need to guide? Presumably first aid and some sort of peak leader jobbie?

    legend
    Member

    Some resorts are clamping down now, but generally it’s just needed the ability to ride a bike and not get too lost

    davidisaacs
    Member

    I am a guide and owner at bikingandalucia, sometimes I may take out only one client for a day for 30 EUROS, and after you have deducted the cost of the packed lunch, and fuel for any transfers, wear and tear on my own bike, it does not leave much. If you are chasing the money, you would not be a mountain bike guide. It is not as glamorous a job as many people perceive, patience is the biggest virtue required. Minimum qualifications to meet the insurers and regulators, are ability to speak the language, current 1st aid certificate, some sort of accredited mountain bike leaders course, insurance, and registered with the appropriate authorities (and patience and a sense of humour).

    hora
    Member

    What would you rather do? Work in an office cowered over spreadsheets, emails and spouting management and strategy bullsh*t all day – or be out on your bike riding in the best places in the world and meeting new people who share your passion?

    The moment your hobby becomes a job its no longer carefree or fun. I cycle to destress. If I had to take god-knows who, who could be fast, stupid, rude or nice with the odd badly maintained bike thrown in when I’m tired, not feeling great and not particularly well paid?

    No ta.

    What next ‘you do it for the love of it’? Maybe if your 18, inbetween College and Uni or a season but not as a serious job. Thats NOT offensive to anyone put how can you put down roots/have a house etc? Especially in the Alps its ££££ if you wanted to buy/stay permanent.

    bamboo
    Member

    The moment your hobby becomes a job its no longer carefree

    + 1

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