Improve your Tour Guide Skills in 5 Easy Steps

In the world of tourism It is essential for you as a tour guide to take tourists on an amazing journey and deliver an experience and the knowledge that will stay with them forever. You have the power to effectively transfer a country’s culture, make tourists want to stay in a country longer, and influence if they will come back again in the future. That is why you should constantly improve your skills and come up with new ways of attracting and capturing tourists around the world.

Much more inventive than the average tour guide, Abbie illustrates his talks with photos of the area.

Here are 5 great ways to improve your tour guide skills:

1. Know your audience

It is extremely important to know the audience you are talking to, especially if you want to connect and influence a specific group of people. How old are they? Where do they come from? What do they want to learn and do? According to HRI (Hotel & resort insider) there are twelve types, however the most common tourists to be aware of are:

  • Young/Backpackers- limited budget, want adventure & fun, minimum luggage
  • Sport & recreation- want active sports or sporting events
  • Leisure- want to relax, be comfortable, lay on the beach, have nice dinners
  • Eco-tourists- Nature loving, seek authentic local experiences and want to give back and volunteer in the communities they visit
  • Cultural- want to immerse in the country’s culture, go to festivals, get know the local people, tribes, other groups and customs
  • Educational – go to a specific place to study and research a country for professional reasons (eg: plant research for medicine, diseases, water contamination)
  • Special Interest – come to explore a specific passion like bird watching, fishing, diving, film festivals, etc.

A group of tourists can actually be in more than one of these categories, and a good tour guide will know this by learning about visitors between stops and use visitor and universally relevant information to make examples more personal as well as better help them achieve their goals and the experience they are looking for during their stay.

2. Manage the group

When dealing with a group of tourists whether it be a large or small group, management skills are very important. As a guide you must:

  • Be well organized and prepared for the group you will guide
  • Make sure everyone can see, hear well, and understand so the information is received and no one is left out
  • Assure visitors safe passage by being aware of all surroundings and the best ways to take advantage of the terrain free from danger
  • Handle unexpected situations such as medical attention if someone gets hurt or if there is a conflict within the group
  • Choose comfortable and safe locations for stops, preferably locations where the tourists can also enjoy a nice view, interact, and have a bite to eat

​​3. Make the tour dynamic

A dynamic tour has to have variety, activity, and excitement throughout:

  • Games, activities, or demonstrations
  • Using sense activities besides vision (smelling of natural plants and their properties)
  • Using natural objects or other props (learning to make a craft, cook, hunt)

A great example of a dynamic tour that implements many activities and variety can be found in the Bolivian Amazon Tours in El Beni region of Rurrenbaque. There are animal sightings, interactive activities such as building a canopy, learning to weave, catching and cooking fish, learning about medicinal plants and how to survive in the jungle. Below are some examples of activities where tourists interact with the natives and nature in the Bolivian Amazon.

4. Make smooth transitions

In order to provide a great touring experience, guides must keep the group feeling active and engaged as they transition from site to site by:

  • Asking questions or providing an activity to maintain tourist’s interest between stops. Such activities could be as small as having an extra pair of binoculars and passing them to tourists so they can better spot a native animal or landmark.
  • Talking to tourists between stops, getting to know them and making a personal connection is a must. A good way to start this engagement is through storytelling. Guides could entertain tourists with a mixture local legends and myths as well as historical facts.

5. Evaluate your tour

In order to become a better tour guide and prepare for your next tour, you must:

  • Ask questions at the end of each tour in order to see how much the group has learned
  • Do a self-evaluation: did I accomplish what I wanted with this tour? What could I have done better?
  • Distribute and collect a tourist survey (should be no more than 5 questions), this way you get feedback fast. No one wants to answer 10 questions after a long tour so make it simple and easy to answer.
  • Create a blog or website where tourists can stay connected and give you more feedback

A great example of a tour guide connecting with tourists is Assigue Dolo. He is a tour guide in Mali who has his own webpage, where tourists can keep in touch with him and give him feedback. Great way to stay connected and keep tourists coming back and spreading the word.

Author: Maria Fernanda 

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Date of last modified: October 06, 2015

Date of visited: July 29, 2015

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