If you are a tour guide, then you are most likely one very busy person. Your days will be full of meeting new people, keeping said people as safe as possible, and providing an incredible, memorable experience over and over again. It’s one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but it's also very demanding, especially during the high season.
In every part of our lives, gadgets are continually being developed to make things that little bit easier. For tour guides, it's no different, and to make your life even easier, I have researched and whittled down the must-have gadgets for you.
Here are 8 gadgets that every busy tour guide should have:
Get your free checklist on the 10 qualities every tour guide should have:
1. The right phone
It’s an obvious gadget to start with considering 67% of the entire population have mobile phones, and we spend on average 4 hours a day using them. But, is your mobile phone right for a tour guide?
There are so many phones on the market to choose from, and the included features can vary. Below are just a few features to consider when selecting the right handset for you:
Think about what photography options would be most beneficial to you. If your tour has incredible views or you sell/share photos with your customers, then you need a phone with a high megapixel camera. If your tour includes looking for things in the distance, such as bird watching, then you may need a quality zoom that won’t blur the image. If you offer a stargazing trip, then your camera needs lighting options for evening shots.
- iPhone or Android
Check that your phone is one of these to be able to download apps from iTunes or Google Play.
To add photos, videos, music and apps, you will need to have the right amount of storage. Some handsets have built-in storage only, and others have the option to add a memory card. Look at how much space you will need.
In my opinion, the most simple but useful tool to have on a mobile phone. Having a flashlight could be helpful to you for cave tours, evening trips, or when you are packing up for the day.
2. Useful apps
Now that you have the right phone, it’s time to fill it with apps that will help you out with your tours & activities. With around 2,000 new releases every single day, there are apps available for almost everything. Finding the right apps that work for you will take time. Here are few of the most popular apps for tour guides to get you started:
Accuweather is a universal app that provides up to the minute weather reports and current conditions. For those tours that can be impacted by wind, storms and waves, Windfinder is an app perfect for kitesurfers, windsurfers, surfers and sailors.
Polaris GPS Navigation is a very highly rated navigation platform with over 30,000 user reviews. If you have a team of tour guides to keep track of, you could use the Find My Friend app which will show the location of each guides mobile device.
- Water Levels
For kayaking, fishing or rafting, River Data monitors conditions at over 20,000 spots across the world. For those who rely on the tide or current for their tours, check out Tides Near Me for up-to-date information.
- First Aid
- Social Media
Make sure you download social apps to promote your tours on the go. The most popular are Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Here are tips on how to showcase your tours using social media.
- Track Your Trips
Trip Journal is an app where you can record, document and share your trips with like-minded travelers.
3. Bookings & payment tools
Ditch the paper schedules and make your life easier with a booking platform accessible by mobile. Obviously, I'm going to talk about the TrekkSoft app as we know our tour guides love it!
Having an app linked to your online booking system will allow you to stay on top of your tours. You and your fellow guides can work remote and still know what's going on across all bookings.
With your mobile, you can avoid missed booking opportunities by taking new bookings and making any changes on the move. You can receive payments for tours from your phone, check-in guests on arrival to your tour and validate any tickets using QR codes. Your app can also be accessed by sellers and partners of your tours to check availability and make bookings themselves.
4. A protective phone case
Now you’ve got your all-singing all-dancing phone; you need to protect it against every element your tour could throw its way. Around 45% of smartphones are accidentally damaged each year, 36% by water damage.
I’ve got a personal recommendation for this gadget, and its the Lifeproof FRĒ case. This case is submersible in up to 2 meters of water for 1 hour and is sealed from dirt and dust, closed to snow and ice, and drop proof from heights of 2 meters. With every single case going through the waterproof test before it arrives at your door, plus a 1-year warranty, you've got the extra piece of mind knowing that your phone is protected. When you remove the case, you will have a brand new mint-condition phone.
The only minor downside with this case is that your camera is covered to be protected, which can slightly reduce the quality of your images. If photography is essential and being waterproof isn't, then look for a screen protector or a protective travel bag for your handset.
5. On the go power bank
When out and about, you will be using your phone for various photo opportunities, taking bookings and providing the music playlist on the travel journeys. Overuse can drain the battery, and it's vital you have your phone working at all times, especially in case of an emergency.
A solar power bank is ideal if you spend a lot of time outdoors. It can charge when you have UV light, or you can pre-charge the bank for use at a later time.
If you have to drive to reach you tour destination, then a car charger might be the right option for you. You can have your phone charging while you play music, and you don't need to charge the charger.
6. Go Pro Actioncam
You could record video footage of your tours on a mobile phone or camera, but nothing compares to filming on a GoPro. Designed purely for adventure a Go Pro is the ultimate tool for capturing and sharing your tour experience. You don't need to be a filming expert to create excellent quality footage. Releasing updates yearly there is a range of cameras to choose from depending on your budget and requirements.
Here are some things I love about GoPro cameras:
Ability to change the screen size, giving extra angles to your work
Voice activation to take a photo or video so you can record hands-free or attach to a mount prior
GoPro mobile app to download and view photos on your mobile if you can't wait until you get home
A range of mounts to choose from to be creative when filming
These watches are so advance that they can track your tour routes, altitude, pace and distance. Specific models can share the sunrise/sunset times, and recognize a drop in air pressure to alert when a storm may be approaching. Others are dedicated to particular sports, such as paddleboarding, and can create competitions with others who are using the same device. With almost all, there is also the option to track your heart rate when required, although this can usually drain your battery charge.
For a tour guide, having notifications on your mobile phone come directly to your SmartWatch could save stop time or missing an important message or call.
To find the right SmartWatch to support your tours & activities, check out this 2018 outdoor GPS smartwatches comparison.
8. A personal voice amplifier
Lastly, if you are hosting walking tours, safety briefings or training sessions, a personal voice amplifier will be very helpful. Everyone in the audience will be able to hear you clearly, without having to raise or strain your voice, which will avoid repetition or miscommunication. This will be particularly useful for tour guides with several groups each day, or when tours are in busy locations.
There are quite a few voice amplifiers to choose from, with different speaker sizes, volume control, headsets and attachments. Here is an article on the 'Top 10' voice amplifiers in 2018 to help with your decision.
These are the top gadgets on our list. If you have any recommendations for gadgets that have assisted you as a tour guide let us know. We'd love to check them out!