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Thursday 31 March 2011

Share your knowledge with articles

Good tour guides are experts with local knowledge. You shall know not only information about the scenic spots, but also various aspects of local life. Do your clients often ask you about featured restaurants, nice bars, entertainments, shopping area…? It is beneficial to share your knowledge by writing articles.

Why is article a great way of tour guide promotion? You are established as an expert in the area by sharing knowledge. You get more exposure on the internet with articles. People viral good content online among friends and networks. It builds up client trust as your articles show your guiding style and language skills.

What to write in the articles? You can write anything about your area of guiding, from local customs to special foods, from scenic spot introduction to entertainment recommendation, from the latest event to historic topics. It is better to write content that inspires travelers to visit your destination. To establish yourself as an expert tour guide, top-10 list can be a good topic. For example, the top-10 restaurants serving local cuisines, the top-10 must-see for travelers, the top-10 not-to-do in the city.

Where to publish your articles? We are talking about online publication here, not print-out on offline media. Online contents are mostly user-generated content. Just pay attention to the rules of each platform before your submission. You can publish on your own blog. There are article directories like EzineArticles, allowing author to submit articles. Websites like HubPages offer an interactive page for articles. Many tour guide platforms also encourage guides to share their knowledge. OurExplorer tour guides can now publish article on Viator.com to increase online presence. Tour guide Gavin in London writes interesting up-to-date articles on London with fantastic photos while Marta in Budapest writes a fun-filled article on the coming of spring.

Have something to share? Demonstrate your knowledge on the internet now.

Friday 25 March 2011

How to cope with festivals and events?

There are festivals and events throughout the year. Traditional festivals can be a reason to attract travelers to a destination, while different events may feed the interest of various travelers. Tour guides shall consider such special cases to promote unique sightseeing tours.

Firstly, a tour guide needs to be well equipped with the latest news. You shall know what is going on this year. How long is the festival period? What celebration will take on and where? Is there anything new this time? Then, you can design a special holiday sightseeing tour. If there are big events in the city, e.g. Xi’an Horticultural Exposition in 2011, it is recommended to combine the event with routine tours. Travelers will therefore have more choices during the visit.

Secondly, take negative factors into consideration. Are there a lot more visitors into your destination during the festival? If yes, arrange transportation, hotel or activity bookings in advance. Think proactively to provide a vivid tour while avoiding the crowds. During the holiday period, do shops and restaurants still open as usual?

Thirdly, mind the local tradition and customs. Mind this especially for traditional or religious festivals in your destination. Do local people welcome foreign visitors to join the celebration? Will it bother your clients who hold a different religion? As a tour guide, it is necessary to understand both the local custom and client needs.

Lastly, target the right market. Effective marketing will help you to receive more travel clients. Think before you promote the festival tour - will my clients be interested in this festival/event and is the timing right? For example, it is hard to promote Christmas tour to people who spend the same period at home with families.

What is special or unique this year in your place of guiding? Share with us.

Friday 18 March 2011

Guide your clients to be a responsible traveler

One social responsibility of a tour guide is to help with the sustainable development in local tourism. Guide is one of the links in tourism (others including scenic spots, natural and cultural legacy, transportation, hotel, entertainments…). Your contribution to the local travel environment will benefit yourself in the long term.

Help with the natural environment. This is especially important for guiding in natural sceneries. Inform your clients what they can do and what they should not. For example, can travelers feed animals in the wild? In most cases “No”. Do not step on the plants or grass for a better picture. Tour guide need to inform general rules in advance. Then during the sightseeing tour, mind the behavior of your clients and gently point out misbehavior.

Respect local culture, people and customs. Each destination has its own culture and customs. Local people speak the same language and live with their tradition. For a foreign visitor, it is important to recognize the difference and respect the local way of living. Tour guide performs as a bridge between local people and foreign travelers. Travelers are new to a place so your guidance is necessary.

Contribute to the local economy. Inbound tourism is a way that makes contribution to the local economy. Traveler’s spending on dining, shopping, sightseeing…all help the economic growth. As a tour guide, why not introduce more local foods, brands, and unique projects? On one hand, things with local characters appear more interesting to travels. On the other hand, you made your contribution to the local society. A win-win situation.

Have you realized your social role as a tour guide and what have you done to guide more responsible travelers?

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Tour Guide Survey with Anna Benaki

Tour Guide Anna Benaki in Athens
http://www.ourexplorer.com/tour-guide-anna-benaki-2163.aspx



1. What is the best thing you like being a tour guide?
What I like best from being a tour guide is the fact that I get in touch with many people of different nationalities, age, culture and I learn from them as much as they learn from me.
In order to become a tour guide I studied the history of my country and travelled in all sites and museums so I truly discovered the beauties of Greece and I now have the opportunity to show them to foreigners.
I enjoy very much the fact that every day of work is different, there is no routine and I contribute to the holidays of my clients.

2. What is your most memorable moment in guiding so far?
I have many memorable moments in guiding: august 2004 when I was working for the Olympics in Athens with coca cola company and I attended the opening and closing ceremony along with many games. All the special occasions I celebrated with my clients, such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries, making me feel part of them. Sailing in the Aegean sea, watching the sunrise and sunset, are just a few of them.

3. What is most challenging for you in this career? Have you coped with it?
Most challenging for me in this career is dealing with problems that may occur, such as accidents, health problems, difficult weather conditions, matching different people in a group, creating a good atmosphere for them.
I have already coped with all of the above, successfully I can say, judging from the feedback of my tours.

4. What is your favorite place/thing that you want to show your travel clients?
I have many favourite places and things I would like to show to my clients. Such as family owned tavernas so as to taste the local cuisine, hiking on mountains so as to get the best view of the sun that sets in the sea, trails to follow so as to run into goats, donkeys and wild flowers away from the touristic areas.
Fortunately Greece still has many hidden treasuries off the beaten track...

5. What if you were not a tour guide? What do you imagine yourself to be?
If I was not a tour guide, I imagine myself working with many people, public relations maybe, as a diplomat, organizing events, but I cannot imagine if any of these would give the same pleasure as from my present work.

Monday 28 February 2011

How to be personal in customer communications?

A private tour guide may express yourself personally during the sightseeing tour. How can you be personal in pre-tour communications? You can sound personal on a phone call. But nowadays, more bookings by overseas clients are communicated via emails or websites. How would you present your personal attitude in emails?

Treat every tourist as an individual client. The sightseeing tour itinerary may be identical covering similar scenic spots. Yet a lot of factors vary, e.g. days of stay, arrival or departure location, number of people in the group, demographic background of the visitors, public transportation vs. private vehicle...And personal interest matters for sure. Considering these facts, your itinerary to each client will be more personalized. You can differentiate yourself from a standard offer in travel packages.

Talk in the language of your client. It is more than using the language they speak. Quote in the currency they are familiar with or with both the local currency and the currency your clients use. Use less local name/description in the itinerary, so that it is easier for clients to understand the visits during the sightseeing tour.

Address to the specific queries. Make sure that all enquiries from your client are properly answered. If certain requirements need extra time to arrange or involves third-party suppliers, tour guides shall inform when a reply can be expected.

Offer something more if noticing the interest of your clients. It can be special scenic spots, e.g. art gallery to tourists with an art-focus. Restaurants with nice local cuisines are also good recommendation to people who would like to try local foods. Suggest fun places for families with kids.

Encourage feedback or further queries. Always ask your clients to give comments freely. A tour guide can be more prepared when clear about client’s preference. Therefore, the sightseeing tour would be conducted with great success.

Do you have any tips on a personal communication with clients before the actual sightseeing tour? Share with us!

Monday 21 February 2011

International Tourist Guide Day - February 21st

Today is the International Tourist Guide Day! You can send in pictures and a short description of what you did to mark this occasion. OurExplorer would love to publicize them and show the world what wonderful things tourist guides are doing!

South Africa Tourism Authority is offering an event under the theme “Culture as a unifying guide”. “Media is invited to experience Pretoria as a tourist destination under the guidance of a deaf tourist guide on 21 February 2011”. View Event Details

Zagreb Tourist Guide Association offers “free city tours in Croatian on Saturday 19 February. Tours start at 11 am and 12 in front of the Tourist Information Center”. View Tour Details

The Advisory Committee of the Tourist Guides in KSA have organized various activities including “training courses, workshops, information on tourism, and free tourism trips to a number of tourism and historical sites”. View More Info

What is International Tourist Guide Day?
According to World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA.org) – “February 21st. an initiative of WFTGA, the International Tourist Guide Day is held on 21st February each year. In 1990, Mrs. Titina Loizides, president of the WFTGA was involved when it was held for the first time, 15 countries participated. Since then, tourist guides in an ever growing number of countries have been giving help to their local communities, conducting tours for disabled persons, disadvantaged persons, for children, industry partners, officials and the general public. Events are also held for local tourist guides including presentations and retraining courses. It is a public relations event par excellence, drawing the attention of local authorities, fellow citizens and the media to the quality and value of the work of professional tourist guides. Each member country contributes to the success of the day in its own way; coach companies have contributed complimentary coaches, attractions and museums have opened their doors without charge. Each year, awareness grows and there is an increasing contribution by both regional and national governments to the International Tourist Guide Day. The Day is coordinated by the World Federation.”

Friday 18 February 2011

The Power of Tourist Feedback

We all understand the power of feedback. It is especially important in hospitality industry. With the quick-development of online communities and review systems, tour guides are easier to collect or share tourist feedback.

For a long-term career development, receiving feedback is better than no feedback. Negative feedback, or complaints in another word, can help a tour guide find areas of improvement. Do not be afraid of complaints. Even the top guides can not guarantee 100% satisfaction. It matters how you handle the case. Be quick to reply and address the issue. Most clients would understand from an honest and sincere explanation.

Positive feedback is great. It becomes a strong sales tool for tour guides to convert prospects into clients. Why not share it on your own website, web page, blog or social network?

How do you gather client feedback then? Do not just wait for the feedback. Everyone is busy, and you can not take it for granted that your clients could offer a feedback after the tour. You may ask for a review/feedback at the end of the tour. Or kindly remind your clients for a review/feedback in email. However, do not bother your clients if you haven’t heard back after two reminders. Otherwise it is more considered as a spam.

If you build up client feedback on third-party platform, like ourexplorer tour guide profile page, offer a simply way for your client to reflect. For example, an email reply address or a link of review page.

How do you deal with tourist feedback, positive and negative? Welcome to share.