What makes a great tour guide? The answer may vary from person to person.
In reality, a guide wears several hats, and most of the times even without knowing it. Guides are storytellers, entertainers, teachers, and professionals as they provide a service in exchange for compensation. Guides are what make a tour great as they add a personal touch to the tour. They invigorate the audience and have the significant ability to influence a tourist’s experience. A good tourist experience can further spur positive word-of-mouth, kind reviews, and will likely result in more sales for the tour guide. Here are 5 characteristics that every tour guide should possess and continuously work to improve:
1) Speak loudly & clearly
It is always crucial to be wary of this point whether you are a new tour guide or a seasoned professional. Your guests need to hear you properly so that they can digest the information and remain engaged. A small group size is always the best for a tour as it allows you to pay close attention to, and manage the guest experience. However, if you have a big group, consider using headsets so that everyone can hear the information you are providing.
2) Continues to learn & improve
A good tour guide should continuously work on fine-tuning the tour to make it an exceptional one. You can identify the areas that require improvement by paying attention to what guests enjoy the most and the least about the tour, by asking your guests some questions & answering theirs, and by encouraging guest feedback at the end of a tour. These practical steps can help you realize what further steps you need to take in order to enhance your tour.
3) Relays accurate information
Although it can be tempting when faced with a question you may not know the answer to, a good tour guide never makes up facts. It is vital to relay accurate information to your guests. If you do not know an answer to a question, point the guests to a resource which will help them attain the answer, or better yet, make note of the question and request their contact information so you can supply them with an answer after conducting research. This will help you raise your credibility, provide great customer service, and at the same time, allow you to acquire new knowledge yourself.
4) Helps tourist learn
As Benjamin Franklin has famously said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”, it is crucial to engage your audience and facilitate their learning. Simply informing them of the facts is boring. Encourage conversation, demonstrate enthusiasm, ask questions, answer questions, and identify any tools that may help your guests learn better. For example, that tool could be a visual aid such as a photo, a take-away pamphlet with information about the site or an email after the tour listing everything the visitor saw or ate on the tour.
5) Act professionally
A tour generally takes place in a relaxed environment. However, as a tour guide, you are still selling a professional service and should act accordingly. It is important to act professionally in order to establish authority and credibility with your audience. Also, small but important details such as being punctual, greeting tourists warmly, dressing well, and being courteous and attentive, helps you build rapport with your audience.
Author: Sarbjit Gill
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Date of last modified: October 6, 2014
Date of visited: Jan 14, 2016