There was a time when I couldn’t imagine anyone but me leading a Rick Steves tour. For 25 years, I personally guided our tours. But for the last 15 years, rather than lead them, I’ve joined them as a tour member — and in 2018, 150 guides led more than 1,100 Rick Steves tour groups around Europe with my complete confidence.
I’m adamant about hiring guides I know and trust, and who share my love for Europe and passion for teaching. And to ensure they are clear on exactly what distinguishes a Rick Steves tour, I fly them to our headquarters in Edmonds, WA every year for a weeklong tour guide summit.
Each day of our Rick Steves Tour Guide Summit is filled with workshops, itinerary brainstorming sessions, first aid training, and so on. (And each night is filled with parties — I’ll share more about that later.) This annual event dominates my staff’s time for weeks and costs us hundreds of thousands of dollars — but we all share the strong feeling that it’s a beautiful investment. In 2019, over 30,000 travelers will join a Rick Steves tour, and we’re confident that, thanks to our shared commitment to excellence, our guides will provide the best tours on the market.
It’s exhilarating to flood our small town with guides, and we take full advantage of having them here. They attend five huge reunion parties for our tour alums, give talks to full theaters of travelers (streaming on demand on Facebook), and join me in my radio studio to record more than 20 hours of interviews.
Many of our tour guides are also guidebook researchers, and our Book Department is always sure to bring them all together during our annual Tour Guide Summit.
Thanks to all our guides for their dedication, and for traveling all the way to Washington state to make sure we’re ready to lead our best-ever tours in 2019. And thanks to all of the travelers who keep us so busy by joining us on our tours. We love this work. And we love traveling with you!