Become a Hollywood Tour Guide

Hello friends.   I am a tour guide in Hollywood and I am going to give you explicit instructions on how you can become a tour guide for the world’;s most exciting city.

I will give you complete guidance and show you what you need to research and study.  Yes, STUDY.  By studying, all I mean is that you must read about certain subjects.  These subjects are the information you will give your passengers while they are looking at the exact item whether it is a building or a group of buildings or the Hollywood SIGN. 


You will need at least a Class B CDL so that you can legally transport passengers.  You will want this not only as a tour guide but as a shuttle driver or limo driver or any other kind of professional driver.  If you have the bucks and energy go ahead and get yourself a Class A license just in case you want to move over to trucks or delivery trucks.  You should find a good Truck Driving school and they will train you for both trucks and buses.  A truck driving school will have the equipment that gets you certified to drive the heaviest vehicle with air brakes.  You want this.  This will give you lots of latitude (choices).  But be forewarned.  If you want to drive trucks over the road then you had better apply to the large trucking companies and go out as a team driver.   This will give you the experience and then you will be able to get work as a truck driver as well as a bus driver, shuttle driver, limo driver or anything related to professional driving.


You must also take a physical exam that is sanctioned by the DMV.  You will want to adhere to the requirements of the DMV for your physical.  Use a doctor who is certified for this type of exam.   You must always be forthright with the DMV.  If a doctor just waves you through without checking your health completely, then move to another doctor.  Do this without fail.

Now that you have your Class A or Class B CDL (Commercial Driving License) now you are ready to study up on Hollywood and go get yourself a job.


There are quite a few companies to choose from. Starline Tours, V.I.P. Tours, LA TOURS and many more.  I make this suggestion.  Go to Hollywood Boulevard where all the tour buses park between Orange and Sycamore and talk to the drivers who are lounging around Shelly’;s Cafe waiting for their passengers to return from their “walk around” experience on the WALK of FAME.  Talk to the drivers from the various companies.  You will be surprised to see how helpful they are.  Tour drivers are “loving” individuals and they care about everybody.  I am not kidding.  They have love in their heart for every human being.  They will help you to the point where you will become astounded. They can tell you where to go to apply for a job and who to talk to at that location.


Most companies will train you.  You do not need to study beforehand but it would be a good idea to study just about anything at anytime.   They will appoint you to a driver and you simply ride along with him while he guides a group tour.   You will have your note book and take copious notes. When you have finished taking notes then you are ready to study and research.  You might spend at least three days to a week just taking notes from your trips with the guides.  Now, you can organize your notes into a chronological order and begin researching and typing additional information.  Here is an example.  What do you know about the founding of Los Angeles?  Do you know the Mission System?  Who was the leading missionary?  That’;s right, Junipero Serra from Majorca, Spain in the Balearic Islands.   Now learn about Junipero and learn about Majorca and learn about the Balearic Islands.  This is called BUILDING your knowledge.  Ask yourself, “What did the missions do?”  They Christianized the local Indians and planted the crops to feed the Spanish soldiers when they arrived.  They arrived in 1781 and the building of Los Angeles began.  You will be looking at the PLAZA when you are talking about the founding of Los Angeles and you will then tell about Pio Pico who built that three story hotel over there and the Sepulveda family who built that hotel in the opposite direction. (These hotels are on opposite sides of the Plaza.) Now you can learn about the San Gabriel Mission and El Camino Real and you are on your way to becoming the best guide in Los Angeles.  You start with the Spanish missionaries arriving in 1769 and begin building your knowledge.  You are going to learn about Pio Pico, Andres Pico, Don Jose Figueroa, Alvarado and Sepulveda.   These men are now the major streets in Los Angeles.  Go on to Prudent Beaudry and his development of downtown Los Angeles and then learn about Victorian era architecture.  You will point it out when your are driving through Angelino Heights.  You learn about Griffith J. Griffith and the Hollywood SIGN and then you learn about the Santa Monica Mountains and the Los Angeles River.  Isn’;t this fun?!  Keep on going until you breached all the movie stars that you care about. Learning about the movie stars is little more than reading the magazines.  Just read what interests you.  Then continue learning about Fred Hayman and his Rodeo Drive.  You might as well know about John P. Jones and his wife Georgina and Colonel Robert Symington Baker and his wife Arcadia.  They purchased the Sepulveda Rancho and built Santa Monica.  Abbot Kinney is patiently waiting for you to learn about him and his building of VENICE.   The Los Angeles River is the river of mystery.  It used to flow into Marina Del Rey.  Now it flows into Long Beach Harbor right in front of the Queen Mary.  Learn all about the Los Angeles River and this will allow you to learn more about the Chumash Nation of local Indians who built their villages along the Los Angeles River.  It was the Yaagna who built the church in the Plaza for the Spanish.  It was the Cahuenga who loaned one of their houses to the Spanish army officer named Andres Pico and the American General Kearney and Major Fremont to sign their first treaty with the Mexicans to stop the fighting.   That house still exists in Campo Cahuenga just at the bottom of the hill of Universal Studios.  Thousands of people drive the Topanga road every day without knowing that it is the name of a tribe within the Chumash Nation.  Do you now see why it is so necessary for you to study these subjects?   You just might be the only way people will know this stuff at the end of the day.  This is not common knowledge and it should be. 


Yes, you can overwhelm the passengers with too much information.  But this is where you must organize yourself to just “entertain” the passengers with a few interesting stories about the founding of Los Angeles and move on to other subjects before you overwhelm them.   When you are talking to the passengers, assume the role of just a good old friend sharing these stories.   Don’;t come off like a college professor.  Be their friend and keep it light and full of fun and add your own brand of natural humor.  However, I am also suggesting that you know this history backwards and forwards so that you have the confidence instilled in you to be more natural and light hearted with your delivery.  Being a tour guide in Hollywood is more about being fun and humorous.  That is your goal.  Be FUN and FUNNY.

You still have to know all the details that I am explaining to you but the main thing is the be fun and funny.  I am dead serious.

I would love to sell you my Hollywood manuscript that I have created over a three year period but I would have to charge you about $500 otherwise I cannot pay for all that copying.  My manuscript is huge. 

You don’;t really need my manuscript.  You will be creating your own manuscript.   Do you have a printer for your computer?  Of course you do.  Just print out your own research and study it in bed before falling to sleep every night.   If you don’;t have a printer then just send your manuscript to a Kinko’;s or any COPY SHOP in an attachment and have them print it up for you.  A manuscript is simply a collection of information on all the subject matter that your tour contains.  As you build your manuscript you are staying aware of every movie star who you mention on your tour.  Research these movie stars and build yourself a few paragraphs about them. You will learn where the movie stars once lived and you will show these homes to your passengers.  Learn something about these movie stars and add it to your manuscript.  If you can build your manuscript in chronological order that you drive your tour itinerary it will make it easy for you to memorize.  So concentrate on doing just that…placing all your information in chronological order of your itinerary.  If you cannot type or look up information in every way possible, then you must find someone who can and pay them to do it for you. 

I am going to give you an example of how you do your research and how to add it to your manuscript.   Ready?   Here we go.


Let’;s take one area of Hollywood and learn about it.   Let’;s add a human being to the mix and learn about him also.   So let’;s take Hollywood and Highland.  This is an open courtyard with a replica of a movie set.  We are looking at the Gate of Babylon and two huge statues of elephants.  What is this really?   It is a replica of the movie set of INTOLERANCE the movie. The movie set was actually just down Hollywood Boulevard at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard where they made the movie in 1916.   It was made by D.W. Griffith and had four stories that were the crowning examples of intolerance.  The conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great of Persia, The Crucifixion of Christ, The persecution of the Huguenot by Catherine De Medici who was the Queen of France and a modern story of the Industrial Revolution. Now, look across the street at the building with the banner saying JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE.  That is the building where D.W. Griffith had his funeral.  If he was there now and could rise up in his casket he would see his movie set replicated across the street.  Wouldn’;t he be impressed and touched by this?  Yes!  D.W. Griffith died just down the street in the Knickerbocker Hotel on Ivar Street in 1948 after  directing hundreds of movies in Hollywood.  His innovations in movie making are used by filmmakers today.  Griffith also made the movie entitled BIRTH OF A NATION where Luis B. Mayer made a fortune with it on the East Coast where he owned cinemas and had an exclusive contract to exhibit it in his theatres.  You see how things are tying together through just one man?!  You are using D. W. Griffith to tie all the strings together. It all comes together with the courtyard of Hollywood and Highland with all the shops and restaurants and concerts almost every night in the courtyard.  This is dynamic stuff don’;t you think?  Do you want to add a few things?  Okay, see the Jimmy Kimmel Live building with its columns?  That was built to be the Masonic Temple in 1922 by the developer Charley Toberman who also built Grauman’;s Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Bowl as well as the Egyptian Theatre and the Roosevelt Hotel where Marilyn Monroe started her career.  His office building is the El Capitan Theatre building and if you look at the freize at the top of this building you will see all the great philosophers.  Wow!   Now, do you see what I mean by “adding to your manuscript!?”  Here are the big guys of Hollywood history.  Sid Grauman – Mr. Show Business and Charley Toberman – Mr.  Hollywood and H. J.  Whitley – the Father of Hollywood.  Your manuscript should have at least two or three paragraphs about every person who you cover on your tour itinerary.  Once you have your manuscript printed and bound, you will study it each night while falling to sleep.  In no time at all you are filled with knowledge that you will only improve upon every day. Remember to keep your information delivery brief but not unclear.   You want your passengers to absorb every word out of your mouth.


You would think that the tour companies would have lavalier mics but they do not.  They make us hold our mics and drive with the free hand.  If you find a company that has only lavalier mics then please tell me about it.  I have never seen a driver using a lavalier mic unless they have their own business and they are in charge of things like that. If you can unplug your mic from quarter inch (phone jack) plug then I would suggest that you buy your own mic and keep your germs to yourself.   Plug and unplug the mics if you can and use only your own mic.  If you work for a company that has faulty pa systems and mics then you probably might begin looking for another company.  To be that disinterested in QUALITY is atrocious behavior for a company.  I would get away from them if I were you.


I would buy myself a nice white shirt and a few ties.   You will dress appropriately when applying for the job.  Then just follow through by dressing the same way after you are hired.  If the company has a uniform they want you to wear then just wear it.  You might not  need to buy shirts and ties.  But, keep your shoes shined.  Don’;t ever wear scuffed up shoes.  Dress for success and be sharp looking at all times.  SHAVE that face of yours.   Don’;t go to work scraggly. NEVER.  If you have stains on your shirt, get rid of that shirt fast.


Do you drink booze?   You had better change that habit immediately.  Do you exercise?  You MUST exercise every  single day and stay in top physical shape.  You can work out your upper body with dumbbells and your heart and lungs through walking.  Find hills to walk and walk up the hills.   Are you struggling for breath?   Keep walking until you are no longer struggling for breath.  Keep yourself very strong.  You will never need to use your strength in an altercation.  You are too smart for that.  Always avoid road rage and the morons who induce you to anger.  You will use your strength to drive that bus and talk your head off to your passengers.   If you insist on not getting enough sleep at night by going to the clubs or drinking in a bar, your days are numbered.   Stop that nonsense.  Stop it and turn it all into a positive physical regimen. When you become an older person you will find that life is just beginning. You do NOT want to be half dead when you are in your seventies.  You want to be alive and well and strong as all hell.


I have observed (by working for all the top companies) that you do not need to know anything until you begin training.  Then you have to really pay attention to the guides and learn every aspect of the job.  They will train you until you and they feel you can begin a “check run.”   The guide will then place you in the driver’;s seat and you will run the tour and deliver the information.   If you are lucky enough to be with a guide that will not interfere with your delivery, you will make it through.  You need to have a clear head.  If the guide interrupts you then he will sink your ship.   He should remain silent.  He should not utter one word. If he interrupts you then you must talk to the supervisor and tell them that you were interrupted and that you cannot be “cleared” if your mind is clouded by these interruptions.  Once you have accomplished a complete tour and adequately delivered the information the guide will be ready to “clear you.”   Now you are ready to be appointed to your own tours while driving your own bus and the next day you will be on your own and off you go to slowly but surely improve your delivery until you are one of the best guides in the city.


Most companies have a sign above your seat that faces the passengers and says, “A 15% gratuity is appreciated for a job well done.”   That is very helpful.   These signs mean that you will never have to ASK or even intimate that you are expecting tips.   We as drivers, do not want to beg.   The sign is all we need.  Now we do not need to bother our passengers at all.  If they do not give us a tip then they feel that our service was lacking in quality.  We have to swallow it.  But the next day we can operate with a little more humor and show them a bit more fun.  If they don’;t appreciate our delivery or our information then we have to change things.  This is where our abilities kick in big time.  Don’;t ever hold it against the passengers.  Something must be wrong with our own delivery.  Maybe we are not being friendly enough.  Maybe we are acting too detached or we are not tuning into the passengers enough to be positive and effective.  Be alert to change if you must.  Here is one ploy that I use.  I pretend they are my best friends and I am showing my best friends around Hollywood and the environs.  I find that I am much more humorous and fun.  My behavior is much warmer and things get turned around fast.  Suddenly the passengers are tipping me the 15% plus adding a few dollars on top of it. This is the way we can make a decent living  and prepare for an economic future.  You cannot be a grouch and be a tour guide.  They don’;t mix.  They don’;t work. 


Most buses have seats that keep you in an awkward position.  They are much too low.  You cannot see sufficiently from down there in that low position.  It is also debilitating to your posture and the pains in your back will begin to grow in intensity day by day. You had better buy yourself a cushion.  I bought a cushion and it worked for about five minutes.  So I bought another cushion to put on top of it.  Then I bought a third cushion.  Finally with four cushions I still had no support and they were ridiculous.  I spent a total of $103.00 and still had no support.  The cushions were all made in a foreign country and they were cheap materials except for the fourth purchase.  It was $70 dollars and it was a joke.   So I designed my own cushion and went to a manufacturer and they made it for me.  Now, I have become my own distributor of my driver’;s cushions and by golly they work.  I am upright and alert in my seat and boy do I enjoy the comfort of my new cushion.  It is made with the highest caliber materials and they are expensive.  Obviously,  there are some things that cannot be made cheap because they just won’;t do the job.  My cushions are made in America using the best possible materials and they might  last a lifetime.  I cannot prove this yet, but they sure don’;t lose their strength. I am now upright and alert and comfortable and that is what matters.   My manufacturer told me “These materials are going to be really expensive.”   I answered, “I don’;t care! Make ‘;em.”  They made them according to my designs and materials and now I am A-OK.


I worked for all of the major tour companies in Hollywood. Before that I drove my own tours in Italy, Greece and Turkey for forty five years.  I also made twenty five travel films at the same time.  I am now overqualified for every tour company in Hollywood so I have to remember to tone it down and not overwhelm my passengers.  It is hard.  You will be just fine.  I will be there on Hollywood Boulevard with all the other drivers and you can talk to me all you want.