Introducing the American Tour Guide

Growing up in Texas, Amber Raney-Kincade didn’t anticipate becoming a tour guide in London. “I was going to be vice president of marketing for a big corporation,” says the outgoing woman who has been professionally guiding for four years now. “But I became a flight attendant instead, then 9/11 happened, and I ended up living in London.” With a Bachelor’s degree in marketing and a free flights from her airline, she moved to London in October 2001 and earned her MBA in international marketing. For extra money, she worked as a Big Bus tour guide until her fiancé was transferred back to Houston in 2003. Two years later, the couple each received job offers to return to London in the same week. “It was fate!”

Handling big budget clients such as Ford, O2, Blackberry, Jack Daniels and L’Oreal kept her busy for several years until the recession hit. “Marketing can be tough, and usually the first budget to get cut. I love marketing, and I’m good at it, but agency work left me empty when a client doesn’t say thank you or I’ve put in too many hours and then find myself fighting off a cold.” Amber worked freelance for a while, then found renewed inspiration while teaching seminars on social media and providing consulting services. With London calling, she decided to develop her passion for tour guiding. Amber earned a guiding qualification with the City of London, a Westminster badge at the University of Westminster, and she is a founder member of the Camden Tour Guides Association.

Making the decision to focus on tour guiding over marketing was a hard choice. “My American DNA includes a work ethic that makes me believe that I have to work crazy hours to earn a living,” Amber explains. “But I read successful stories of how people give up the grind and do what they love. This March, I ended a marketing project and declared ‘That’s it. I never give 100% to guiding, now is the time!’ It’s exhilarating to focus on just guiding, using my marketing skills to promote my passion. Juggling a portfolio lifestyle is a skill, and while I know I’ll pick up marketing projects in winter, for now, it’s all guns blazing on the guiding front.”

As a marketing consultant, she worked with many clients who wanted to start their own businesses. She saw a pattern emerge as clients often created mental or physical roadblocks to stop themselves from succeeding or taking action to achieve their goals. “I’ve seen it all: unfinished website, unwritten business plan, or just waiting for time to dedicate to the idea. In the end, you just have to bite the bullet and make things happen. You never have time for anything, because time isn’t a gift. No one will hand you empty time to fill. You have to make time.”

Amber says she combats any fears with the reassurance that she is doing what she loves. “For me, motivation comes from client feedback. The satisfaction I get from someone telling me that the tour was fantastic is so rewarding. Plus, now I have total freedom to create my tours, total control on where the business goes, and total happiness when clients write a review. And my office is London!”

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