Being a tour guide is not an easy job. Being a good/great/fantastic/amazing guide is tougher. It requires practice, experience, enthusiasm, stamina and a loud voice. If you want to improve your tour guiding game, here are 5 qualities you can start building today.
1. They are incredible storytellers
Captivating and interesting, a great tour guide is able to bring history and culture to life. They are clear and easily understood, and effortlessly weave together the past and the present, creating a relevant narrative that delivers valuable lessons to the tour group. Great tour guides leave their audience in awe and give them something to ponder upon before they go to bed at night.
2. They care about their guests
Great tour guides know how to make their guests feel at ease and get the tour group comfortable with one another. They strike up conversations with everyone on the tour, not just one or two "favourites". They take into consideration the various needs of their customers and make an effort to find a compromise for everyone. On multi-day tours, they might make sure there's a seating rota so that everyone gets a chance to sit in front, not just that couple.
3. They're knowledgeable
Even if they aren't local, they know a lot about the topic of the tour. They know the destination and its culture like the back of their hand, and they can't wait to share it with their tour groups. They're unlikely to get lost when guiding (thankfully) and can effortlessly offer genuine recommendations for restaurants, attractions, activities and night life.
4. They're flexible
The best guides are quick on their feet and know what to do if a tour doesn't go as planned. They're also up for a little adventure every now and then, agreeing to take the road less travelled if their tour group agrees on it. It's the little things like this that make a tour experience stand out and remain unique and special for everyone on the trip.
5. They finish on time
Great tour guides know how to manage their allocated time and identify attractions worth their customers' time, energy and money. No one wants to walk around aimlessly for four hours and have to sneak off mid-tour (guilty as charged). A tour guide who knows how to pack a punch in the limited time she's given is a tour guide who deserves a shout out on TripAdvisor.
Do you have any tips to share with other tour guides? Let us know in the comments below.
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Written by Nicole Kow
Having graduated from the UK, Nicole travelled around Europe before joining TrekkSoft's marketing team. She is now based in KL and regularly blogs about her travels at Next Train Out.