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Tuesday 22 December 2009

Good sightseeing tours in bad weather - Tips

Travel is interesting because one is getting out of the daily routes. There are things to expect and unpredictable things to happen. For a tour guide, however, you try to have everything in control, from itinerary to transportation, from local meals to entertainment. Yet there is one thing completely uncontrollable - the weather.

You surely know the rainy season or hot periods in your city, but you can not decide if the sightseeing tours day is raining, snowing or even a freak storm. Can a tour guide fix the weather? No, but a tour guide can be prepared in advance for bad weather to prevent bad sightseeing tours. Here are some tips for city guiding in bad weather.

Be prepared. Check the weather forecast 3 days before and sightseeing tours. It is easy with the internet, mobile, television, newspaper… whatever methods convenient for you. If it is going to be a fair day, great! If it is going to rain, prepare umbrellas or rain coats accordingly.

Adjust the itinerary to make a better experience. Increase indoor activities to minimize the affect of the poor weather. Swap places to visit if it is a multi-day sightseeing tour. Offer new options for cancelled items due to the weather conditions. Do inform your clients in advance about the changes in itinerary, they will appreciate this. They will understand as weather is out of your control but not getting notified may annoy most travelers. If you are taking public transportation in the city, try to choose the closest bus/metro/taxi stand from the venue.

You are the guide and leader of the tour, so be great by keeping your clients in a good mood. Do you have jokes about such bad weather to lighten the mood and potential tension? Are there stories of interest that happened particularly in raining days? Is the snow bringing a different beauty of the local scenery?

What weather do you least expect on your sightseeing tours? Have you successfully coped with any extreme weather in your guiding career? Please share with the tour guide community on this blog.

Monday 14 December 2009

Benefit of saying "thank you" at the end of sightseeing tours

It is nice to be nice and it costs nothing

Do not hold back your gratitude at end of the sightseeing tours. As a tour guide, you are probably a very hard working person. Surely you deserve the warmest thanks from everyone on your tour. You definitely will receive it if you have done an excellent job. Yet remember, a great successful tour can’t be completed by you alone.

If it is a private sightseeing tour just between you and your clients, thank them for their support and cooperation. For them being on time, listening to you attentively, following the rules in specific sights. Your clients also appreciate your gratitude and will think highly of you for offering it to them.

If it is a big tourist group, you need to publicly thank more people. Thank the driver for his safe driving and punctuate delivery. Thank the tour leader and organizing company, so that you have the opportunity to meet each other. Thank the national guide for his help and support during the tour. Any other parties that are relevant and deserve your appreciation? Please do.

What’s more, if you had a great time with your clients and co-workers, why not sing a farewell song to express your feeling?
A sightseeing tour closing speech with thanks can be quite sentimental.
Do you have anything special to show at end of the tour? Share with us.

Thursday 10 December 2009

Sightseeing tours from a coach

Coach tours are often route tours that a tour guide can easily get accustomed to. To be a master at guiding sightseeing tours on a coach, here are some tips for you.

Best coach and driver option available

Locate a good coach and cooperate with the driver at all times. The coach and driver are important supporters to ensure successful coach sightseeing tours. It is important to locate the best coach and driver before the sightseeing tours, booked in advance. During the tour - Take note of coach colour, number, and parking location. You don’t want to walk all around the parking lot just to find the coach stops at entrance for you, do you?

Clear communication via microphone

The microphone on the coach needs to be found and tested before you talk to the tourists. Take the guide’s seat at the front so that you can talk to the whole group easily. Ensure you have clear quality sound and no speaker feedback noise.

Planning with the driver

Communicate with the driver about itinerary, time, stops, and other things that relevant to the sightseeing tours. The driver knows the tour, but it is worthwhile confirming again in person. Exchanging mobile numbers between the driver and tour guide is also necessary.

Now let us focus on your clients. Besides tour introduction and sight commentary that a tour guide shall already be capable of, the following points will contribute to a successful coach tour.

Is everybody on the coach and safely seated? Count the heads before departure. If you are on a big coach that requires walking to the end for accurate counting, you may count once more from back to front ensuring all people are boarded. Have a quick look at overhead luggage. Make sure there is no easy-fall-off items. Remind the tourists of safety belts or other facilities. Ask them please not to walk when the coach is moving. Don’t forget to introduce the coach, its number, colour, etc.

A great comfortable tour is impossible without the support your clients. So do make a note in advance if you are on a non-smoking coach. Shall eating and drinking be avoided while on the coach? Where they can find the disposal bag or garbage bin?

Are there any tips you would like to share as an experienced tour guide on coach?

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Tips to best present your sightseeing tours on OurExplorer

As you know, OurExplorer has launched a new product Sightseeing Tours last month. OurExplorer is happy to see now over 150 sightseeing tours already saved this website, provided by our tour guides all over the world. Some tours are well presented and very attractive, so we would like to share with all. It is not only about your sightseeing tours on OurExplorer, but can be generally applied online or offline.

Tip 1: Shout out your specialty clearly. Why should travelers choose your sightseeing tour rather than anyone else’s? Because the sightseeing tour with you is unique. For example-
Barcelona Sightseeing Tour, Marta’s tapas tour for a delicious local experience!
Shanghai Sightseeing Tours with Jean, see how the old buildings, factories and houses have been fueled with new vitality by creative designs.
Prague Sightseeing Tours with Martina, look up for lady holding broom and lantern!

Tip 2: Photos are inspiring. Add photos to your sightseeing tour. Let travelers have a direct visual impression of what to see during the visit. See Classic City Tour in Buenos Aires.

Tip 3: Detailed and clear introduction. Clients can’t book your sightseeing tour if they are not clear about the tour length, price, routes…, right? So a clear introduction on tour details is critical. It actually saves a tour guide’s efforts by clarifying things in advance. See Acapulco Sightseeing Tours with Rudy!

Tip 4: Show your humor and wisdom!
Sightseeing Tours Exclusions: Bad tempered, no- sense of humor, it's-just-another-tour local guides. Isn’t it nice to experience a Zagreb sightseeing tour like this, More than an ordinary sightseeing tour?

Have you any suggestions on the best sightseeing tours?

Monday 16 November 2009

Maximise Sightseeing Tour Length and Tour Guide Commentary

Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming. Are you as a tour guide designing a special program for the holiday period? Besides something specially related with Christmas, what else will you cover in your guiding commentary? A sightseeing spot may have dozens of stories or facts. Will you tell them all? Probably not. It is not necessary either.

A traveler once remarked on her day excursion in Shanghai (China),”The city is amazing. But for a city like this, I just feel there is too much to absorb and digest in a single day.” Not to mention shorter sightseeing tours e.g. a 3-hour walking tour. Avoid overloading with information is important.

Because of the limited time on a tour, a good tour guide will try to find the clients’ interest and thus focusing more on relevant aspects. How? Ask the client beforehand. Even with routine sightseeing tours, it could turn out differently with different travelers. Do not hesitate to add a simple question “Do you have any special interest?” Listen to them on the sightseeing tours. Listening is a kind of art. From the questions they asked and their personal backgrounds mentioned, you can detect what they might be more interested.

Sightseeing Tour length is an important element to consider when preparing commentary on a tour. If the travelers have a longer sightseeing tour with you, it is a good opportunity for you to share more knowledge and wisdom. Separate general information throughout days. Do not talk over all in one day and stay quiet in the other day. A day with certain theme requires commentary sticking to the same theme. Try different routes back to the accommodation, so that you won’t repeat similar contents.

One more point, when you are working together with another tour guide, e.g. national guide, local guide, or tour leader, cooperate in what to say in your commentary. Travelers don’t want repeated information.

Have you encountered similar problem, too less time but too much to say? Tips are welcome in comments.

Monday 9 November 2009

Tour Guide Survey with Adolfo in Mexico

Tour Guide Adolfo Soberanis-Rios, Acapulco Sightseeing Tours

1. What is the best thing you like about being a tour guide?

Being able to “brag” about my Country and show our visitors the true colors of it, sharing our valuable History, customs, traditions and most important of all, helping them feel the warmth and heart-felt care of my people by taking them by the hand into their environment.

2. What is your most memorable moment in guiding so far?
When I took care of a famous blind golfer by the name of Charles Boswell (author of the book “Now I can see”) in the company of Late Mr. John P. Kern and I took them out for dinner at this fantastic Restaurant “El Campanario” (1988) which was located on the very summit of a high hill, overlooking a breathtaking view of Acapulco bay, & as we sat in our table, his expression turned very thoughtful as he turned to me and expressed: “Adolfo, this is the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my entire life” Needless to say, my jaw fell to the floor among the other diners !

3. What is most challenging for you in this career? Have you coped with it?

When I received an email requesting assistance for booking a private villa for a Jewish family visiting Acapulco for the first time. After exchanging many emails back and forth with several different options for this client to choose from, and just as I thought he finally agreed upon one, he disappeared, only to return about a week later to let me know he had found another villa for a lower price. Since I was aware of the lousy conditions of such villa, I sent him an email (after talking to the owner of the villa he had chosen previously and getting him the same rate as the other cheap one). Upon their arrival to Acapulco I pick them up at the airport and took them to the villa they have booked. Right then I offered my ground transportation service to his full party of 7 adults and 4 children and again had to agree on a much lower rate for him to accept such service.

One thing led to another and from then on, it was like pulling teeth to cop with him, so I finally decided to send him a colleague of mine, to drive them around on the same deal …but he wouldn’t hear of it and he demanded I was the one to do his driving. So I did and it was the longest week of my entire life !!!

At the end and as I saw them off at the departure gate at the airport, he came towards me, embraced me and thank me for everything I did for him and his family …and even gave me a tip.

4. What is your favorite place/thing that you want to show your travel clients?

Definitely the Culture, wonderful History, my charming/friendly fellow citizens, the close family bonds among our people, the colors, the delicious cuisine, the wonderful beaches, the archaeological sites nearby, Taxco (Silver capitol of the world) …and breathtaking sights. I could carry and rant on & on, but I’d basically love to at least show that much.

5. What if you were not a tour guide? What do you imagine yourself to be?

I was born into the Tourist Industry by having a father that became the first Federal Government Tourist Inspector in Acapulco, in the late 1950s-early 1960s. When he died in 1970, I inherited his job and was sent to Mexico City for 5 months to take Certification Course to become a Federal Tourist Inspector myself, which I did. Eventually I had the opportunity to move to San Francisco where I lived and studied to become a Certified Auto-mechanic, which I worked as one for about 12 years in my own auto repair shop.

In 1983 I decided I wanted to do a different job for about a year (sort of giving me a little room to breath) & went to work for a local travel agency. At the end of two seasons I just knew this was it for me and I applied for my Government-licensed as a Certified Tour Guide and became one in October 1985. Since then (only after the birth of my 3 children), this has been the most important and happiest thing to happen in my life.

What would I be if I were not a Tour guide …I just can not picture my life in any other way !!!

Thursday 15 October 2009

New Sightseeing Tours Product - Launched on OurExplorer

OurExplorer launched a new product range for tour guides in October 2009 - Sightseeing Tours with specific prices and photos. Click here to see a sample sightseeing tour

OurExplorer tour guides can now upload and save their top 4 sightseeing tours onto their OurExplorer webpage profile.

Why Upload Your Sightseeing Tours? - Benefits

- Increase your product range for clients to book
- Easy for clients to make direct booking on specific sightseeing tours
- More photos displayed to your clients

How to Add a Sightseeing Tour to your OurExplorer webpage?

1. Login to your profile
2. Click tab “Sightseeing Tours”
3. Click blue button “Add Sightseeing Tours”
4. Add tour details left of the page
5. Click button “Save”
6. Add sightseeing photos right of the page
7. Click tab “Back to sightseeing list” to add more tours.

Contact OurExplorer for more help with Sightseeing Tours Uploading

Add Your Best Sightseeing Tours Today

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Tour Guide Survey with Rudy in Mexico

Tour Guide Rudy Fregoso - Acapulco Sightseeing Tours

1. What is the best thing you like being a tour guide?
I think there is nothing better than being able to show your own country to foreigner and getting them acquainted of what it really take place in the nation, helping them, guiding them, making them realizing about the reality of my home!

2. What is your most memorable moment in guiding so far?
I still remember the face of a Latin American lady who when being a little child used to see Mexican movies and started dreaming coming to Acapulco, Mexico. I rembember the impression, the impact that the bay of Acapulco caused to the woman, her face is something that made thinking willing to pay "mucho dinero", making me think my KINGDOM for a camera at that time.

3. What is most challenging for you in this career? Have you coped with it?
Everyday is a fun challenge but to me is a pleasure!

4. What is your favorite place/thing that you want to show your travel clients?
I always like better what people, my customers like the most, and the positive feedback I get from my tourist make like even better that given place....!

5. What if you were not a tour guide? What do you imagine yourself to be?
I think of myself as a chemically pure Tour Guide, And IF I WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A TOUR GUIDE.... I WOULD IMAGINE MYSELF WILLING TO BE ONE.


Monday 21 September 2009

Getting your sightseeing tours to be client perfect

When it comes to private sightseeing tours, the tour guide can be challenged to provide an interesting initial program. How can you design great sightseeing tours program that is desirable to your specific clients everytime?

Ask and listen

You may have guided the classic/common sightseeing tours in your city hundreds of times but remember, every person has their own travel needs. Especially with clients who require a private sightseeing tour. So take the effort to confirm: Is it your first time to the city? Do you have any special interests e.g. art, history, nature, local market? Are you ok with long-hour walking or alert to any foods ……

Q. Do listen to your clients’ needs, otherwise you won’t be successful with the sightseeing tours proposal.

Design the sightseeing tours program

Now that you know your clients interests and requirements, you can start to design a tailor-made program. Here are some tips when putting together the “things to do”. Try to put all information on one page. It is like resume, simple and clear is the best. Make a short note besides the scenic spot name e.g. (Shanghai, China) Yuyuan Garden, traditional Chinese garden established 400 years ago. A tour guide is familiar with all sites. Yet your client may not.

Do not put very similar sites or activities in the same day tour unless your client required so E.g. visiting the history museum in the morning and art museum in the afternoon may be too much museum activity in the same day. Balance walking with driving time. Long hour walking will fatigue travelers as well as the tour guide. Too much time on transportation will make people boring. Do the distant sites first and nearby sites later. It is not clever to visit far away sites while your clients are catching a flight/train on the same day - stress in not fun for any person.

Leave the evening free. You may suggest activities, but do not make a program detailed into 24 hours. Leave some free time for the travelers to enjoy themselves. Tour guides also need a break and prepare for the next day - refreshed and full of energy.

Alternatives and Cancellation

Offer alternatives. People like to have choices. E.g. select their preferred local performance among several options. Tour guides also need to consider activities limited by weather or other conditions. E.g. the outdoor activity not fit for raining days. Notify your clients of cancellation rules if any. It is better to inform in advance, avoiding conflicts or displeasure.

Confirm signtseeing tours in advance

When you are responsible for a sightseeing tour with everything included, do confirm all the details in advance. Confirm with travel clients the program details in full. Book the car and driver earlier when required. Check with restaurant availability and order the table if it is a popular place.

No. 1 = Clarify the needs of clients.

No. 2 = Then build the tour towards meeting these needs.

Then you will come out with a great and workable sightseeing tours program.

Friday 4 September 2009

Client Feedback - How to ensure a superb sightseeing tour

Happy clients recommend great tour guides and sightseeing tours to friends. How can you ensure you have a happy client willing to recommend your services after the sightseeing tours are complete?


Before the sightseeing tour

As previously mentioned, the tour guide did contact me within a few hours of me sending a question and booking the tour. This seemed very professional to me.
I also mentioned that she contacted me via Instant Messaging soon after the booking. You may want to recommend this to other tour guides as it did help made build trust in her as a tour guide and the fact that she was going to turn up on the day … definitely help me feel that I was not going to get "stood up" on the day of the tour.

Another good point is that she promised to call my hotel the day before the sightseeing tours to confirm the meeting place and time, which she did.

At the start of the sightseeing tours

The tour guide was punctual, which is very important.As soon as we met, the guide was instantly very friendly.
The tour guide had the good sense to first sit with me, before we went out, to confirm what I wanted to do and we discussed a rough itinerary. Again, good another tip to suggest for tour guides, because if she did not know my expectations, then I might not be satisfied at the end.

The tour guide also confirmed that my clothing was suitable, since we were visiting temples etc. Another possible hint tip is to get guides to recommend appropriate clothing etc before the day of meeting.

The tour guide also allowed me to decide if I wanted them to pay for things along the way (and I pay at the end) or if I simply wanted to pay as we go. It was nice that they offered this option.

[Advise Summary: Be punctual. Attentive to details. Mind the cultural background of your clients.]

During the sightseeing tours

The tour guide did seem to know her city and was quite confident in showing me around. She was constantly talking and telling me information and was answering most of my questions.

In fact, I think she was so enthusiastic to tell me what she knew, that she often quickly dismissed or brushed over what I really wanted to know. Tip: tell your tour guides to "listen" to the customer as it will be the customer that that will ultimately evaluate them on the website and with their tip.

A tip might be how to handle the situation when the sightseeing tours finishes early (not getting the full value) or if the guest wants to spend more time … I guess an hourly rate could be suitable in this case.

[Advise Summary: Be knowledgeable but not overwhelming with everything. Listen to your clients and focus on their interest.]

At the end of the sightseeing tours

The next day (after the tour), the tour guide called my hotel room at approximately 8:30am to follow up and see if they could help in any other way. Some people may have found this very professional, but since I had a very big night in Bangkok the night before and arrived to the hotel late, I was a little annoyed that they rang me so early on my holiday when I was actually relaxing and sleeping in.

[Advise Summary: Follow up in the right time. Provide your full contacts to your clients, so they can find you when they need. Offer further help at end of the tour when you are with the clients. An email follow up with thank and feedback request is a good option.]

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Tour Guide Survey - Martina Gregorcova, Prague Sightseeing Tours

1. What is the best thing you like being a tour guide? – I like to be tour guide because I meet people from all over the world, I am freelance and my work is my hobby!
2. What is your most memorable moment in guiding so far? – The most amazing experience is – I took around a family from LA in my Trabant Car, 3 weeks after they returned from Prague back to USA, they sent me a little car toy – which looks exactly like mine – Trabant Junior! – I have it in my car till today and I show it to everyone.
3. What is most challenging for you in this career? Have you coped with it? – my dream is to be private guide for Beyonce Giselle Knowles – because I am her really big fan, she performed in Prague April 2009, went for short sightseeing but without tour guide, I would like to be her private guide if she comes back to Prague.
4. What is your favorite place/thing that you want to show your travel clients? – Hidden parts of Prague Castle
5. What if you were not a Prague tour guide? What do you imagine yourself to be? – I studied in Art & Music school in Slovakia, I would be definitely doing something with design or singing and dancing.

Friday 21 August 2009

Knowledge Preparation for City Sightseeing Tours

City sightseeing tours are different from safari travel or mountain trips. On one hand, it has less physical requirements on travelers but on the other, it demands a tour guide of a deeper knowledge level about the city and sights.

So what shall a tour guide prepare before offering city sightseeing tours? Place names and local terminologies are the basics. You are familiar with the local name of a place, but be aware that your clients may call it differently based on their knowledge. For instance, the famous steel bridge in Shanghai with over 100 years history was known as “Wai Bai Du Qiao” among citizens. However, it was originally named as “Garden Bridge” by the British. Do some research in advance, and try to avoid a misunderstanding for such cases. For basic background information like the name, location, establishment date, history, etc. - a tour guide needs to stick to facts and be as accurate as possible.

But the travelers are not coming for a lesson, are they? Therefore, a great tour guide tells interesting stories and anecdotes during the sightseeing tours. These stories may be true or partly true. They help to arouse interest of travelers and make the place fondly remembered.

City sightseeing tours can not be complete without noticing people and the life in and around the city. At the sightseeing spot, or during transportation in the city, tour guides can introduce how people live and work here. Local traditions and customs are often welcomed. It is best to combine such introduction with what you see along the way. Offer some fair and mutual opinions by yourself, as you are a local fully engaged in the daily life.

There is other general knowledge a tour guide should prepare, either for city tours or other sightseeing tours. For instance, toilets in each stop, taxi stands or public transportation you need to take, entrances/exits of scenic spots…

Good tour guides welcome all questions from travelers. The more knowledge you have, the better travelers will experience your city tours. But don’t worry. Rome was not built in one day. With proactive study and practical experiences, you will be a great city tour guide.

Have you any top tips to share with OurExplorer please?

Friday 14 August 2009

The perfect greeting to start sightseeing tours

Your method of greeting your clients is very important for a tour guide. The client gets a direct first impression of you and perhaps even of your city, from this initial greeting. It is not as simply as a basic introduction. A tour guide should consider timing, boby language and the surroundings in which to present a customized greeting to your travel clients.

Pick Up Location

First, consider the pick-up location. When you meet your clients at the airport, it is usually a long-drive to the city centre. In that case, a tour guide shall prepare enough content to introduce themselves. Besides the basic facts of the city, you may talk some more about local culture, customs, upcoming events etc. Choose some fun topics, so that the travelers do not get bored after the flight. When you meet at the railway station, bus station, or cruise port, the driving routes are different from each other. It is best that a tour guide combines their prepared greeting with the sights along the way.

Another common meeting point is the hotel lobby where your clients are staying. This can be very broad and you may not know every hotel in the city. Do some homework before meeting the client. Know the distance from their hotel to the first sight, and the route you are going to cover.

Time of the Day
Timing is also a consideration of your greeting speech length. When a tour guide picks up clients at day time to start some sightseeing tours, you are often expected to talk more. Your clients are excited to hear about this new place. If you meet travelers at night time, you talk less and give your clients time to rest. Save the best for the following morning when they are refreshed. If even later, it’s a mid-night arrival- perhaps ask them are they tired, if yes, will you keep silent completely? No, it is recommended to give a brief greeting. With just one or two sentences, your clients will appreciate your greeting in a strange place.

So how do you start your greeting speech, with a big smile and welcome or something extraordinary and eye-catching. Let us know some of your techniques?

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Tour Guide Industry trends & Events Update

Here are a selection of tour guide and sightseeing tours trends

First Tour Guide in Xitang (China)
Xitang, the thousand-year old town located in eastern China's Zhejiang Province had just started to develop tourism in that year.
"People asked who that girl was and why she was always shouting with a loudspeaker, followed by a group of strangers," she said, recalling the first year of her career life as a tour guide when reporters from CRI interviewed her on Monday.
The reaction was understandable since before 1997 only peddlers who collected used bottles and old newspaper used loudspeaker to attract new business. Tour Guide details

Get paid to travel (Malaysia)
How many of us dream of having a fun job where we get to travel to interesting places, make new international friends and get a healthy sum of money for doing so?
"But overall, it's a fun, rewarding and an eye-opening job, so I'd give it a try if I were you!"

Australia's most eccentric tour guides (Australia)
Sometimes on a tour, it's not about the where or the what, but the who. A good, entertaining tour guide can make all the difference, and some of them become legends in their own right.

Responsible Tourism Day (Worldwide)
WTM World Responsible Tourism Day, the only global day of action of its kind, is being supported by the UNWTO and leading industry associations. The day is vital – for business, for profitability and for our planet. It means taking care of a world that we seek to promote, preserving our heritage and cultures and taking into account the views and needs of local communities.

How Search Is Key To Booking Travel Plans
The majority of personal travelers still plan to travel just as much or more throughout 2009, compared with 2008. Booking behavior has changed, however. Travelers will shop around more and wait for the best deal before they book.

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Interview with Tour Guide - Flora Lin from Shanghai

Shanghai Tour Guide Flora Lin

1. What is the best thing you like being a tour guide?

Travel, Freedom, Meet and interact with people from all over the world and have good friendship. It’s a happy job.

2. What is your most memorable moment in guiding so far?

Once I had several days sightseeing tours with a US family, when i take them to the airport and say goodbye,everyone didn't wanna me to leave and they told me I would be their family member and they invited me to visit them in US.
When the earthquake happened in May last year,one of my guests sent me an email at once and was worried about me - "r u ok?".
I also received the gifts,postcards and thanks letters from some guests after the trip,sending by post from Egypt, US, Sweden etc.,which all make me so moved.

3. What is most challenging for you in this career? Have you coped with it?

Actually I enjoy this job a lot and always having good time with guests.
I think the most challenging is the different inquiries and demands from the guest.
Good communication,updating my knowledge all the time,understanding and devoted by the heart helps a lot.

4. What is your favorite place/thing that you want to show your travel clients?

The best thing is to get into the local life while you travel.The old town,local stone-framed gate houses,alleyways,watching people cooking,playing mahjongg game,visiting the wet market,flea market will be fun things to do in shanghai.

5. What if you were not a tour guide? What do you imagine yourself to be? Club Med. Tour Leader. I love travelling,will do anything related with travel.

Friday 17 July 2009

Tips to get more clients on your OurExplorer webpage

Here are 6 of the best tips from a Tour Guide so you get enjoy more client bookings.

Name: Jean Liu
Occupation: Shanghai Tour Guide

1. Ensure you have a clear and detailed profile page. Who you are & what you offer, a smiling and welcoming photo, qualification proof like tour guide license/certificate.

2. Google and Search Engines - Promote your webpage with these keywords - "{INSERT YOUR CITY} tour guide" and "{INSERT YOUR CITY} sightseeing tours" e.g. Shanghai tour guide, Shanghai sightseeing tours.
A. On your webpage profile. Include keywords on your personal introduction and guide service, wherever applicable and readable.
B. On other travel websites. Put your OurExplorer webpage url in other websites and blogs. Even better, use keywords as anchor text for the links.

3. External link building methods.
a) Add your webpage to your own website, or profiles on other networks. E.g. business network like LinkedIn, Xing, and personal connection like Facebook.
b) If you write blogs, add your webpage to your blog. There are big blog providers like Wordpress, Blogpost. Also the lately popular mini-blog Twitter.
c) Promote your personal page on forums and communities. Add contents to your frequently visited forums, or popular travel sites like TripAdvisor. Add url to your member signature when allowed.
d) Multi-media share. Share photos, podcasts and videos, e.g. Flickr, PodOmatic, YouTube. Add your webpage to descriptions or replies.
e) Bookmark your webpage and share in social media news sites. The popular ones are, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. There is a button “bookmark” on your profile page, which includes most of the popular bookmark and social media news sites.
f) Writer something and share your knowledge. Write tour guide and sightseeing tour articles and publish on article databases like EzineArticles Share your knowledge on advising sites like HubPages. Answer other people on YahooAnswers.

4. Add your profile page to your Email sign off (signature). It helps the email recipient to know more about you.

5. Tell your friends, family, colleagues and prospect clients your OurExplorer URL address. On your non-logged in profile page you can - "Send page to a friend". Your webpage is one of your profession presentations.

6. Use your OurExplorer page as a testimonial to build client trust. Your webpage gets stronger with more real client ratings and comments.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Directing your clients during sightseeing tours

When you are still seated in the car/coach before entering a site during sightseeing tours, what should a tour guide inform her clients about? You need to leave enough time to inform them of the basic information and rules of the site you are going to enter. Let’s take a real example and see what your clients need to know.

Sightseeing Tour: Yaolin Wonderland, limestone caves in Hangzhou, China.

Time of Visit: July.
Tour Guide Commentary:
Hello everyone, we will arrive at Yaolin Wonderland in 15 minutes. (Inform them of where you will visit and the time of arrival)
The visit will take around 1.5 hours. (Inform the length of visit.)
It is composed of several limestone caves with an average temperature of 18℃. As it’s 30℃ outside, you may need a coat with you. Take some water with you. You can leave your luggage and umbrella on the car/coach. (Inform what to bring and what’s not necessary - limits grumy and complaining clients after the tour.)

But do not leave your valuables. Bring with you your passport, wallet, mobile, camera, and other valuable things. (Always remind about safety concerns)

Yaolin Wonderland has its own sightseeing tours guides. They are knowledgeable with the history and formation of the caves. We will have a site guide for our group. So please stay together and follow that guide. I will also accompany you during the visit.
(Explain if the tour is self-guided, guided by you, or guided by a specific site guide. Make clear to the clients who to follow in the coming visit.)

When you are in the caves, it’s a one-way path. You can not go backwards. Just move forward and you will find the exit. Our car/coach will wait in the parking space at exit. You will have free time after we finished the main caves. It is 13:00 now, and we will leave at 15:00. Please do not miss the time. Reach our car/coach in the parking space before 15:00. (Make clear of the departure time and pick up location. Make a special note if drop-off and pick-up are in different places. Do repeat the departure time and location, especially when you are guiding a big group of travelers.)

Have you any sightseeing tours stories you would liek to share with us?

Monday 13 July 2009

Sightseeing Tours with Foreign Languages

Language is the key communication between a tour guide and sightseeing tourists. When guiding foreign clients for sightseeing tours, fluent spoken language is very important to ensure a satisfactory experience. Even better, if you can use proper guiding languages.

Avoid using ambiguous pointing words like “here”, “there”, “in front”. A tour guide should point out more clearly to your clients. Perhaps try this method instead - “Look at XXX on your left side.” “You can see XXX next to the clock tower.” If you are facing your clients, be aware that your left side is their right.

Use descriptive languages when talking about something. For instance, don’t simply say “look at the building on your left.” You can present in a higher quality by saying “Look at the tall red brick building with the USA flag, on your left.” The clients will be clearer as to what you are going to talk about.

We all know that language is often associated with culture background and regional characters. Your commentary in guiding will receive a better result if you refer to what would be familiar to your clients. When introducing the Lujiazui Financial Centre in Shanghai, a guide may refer to “Manhattan” in New York with American travelers. Easier for them to know the function and importance of Lujiazui in the city if they have something to relate it too.

Some tour guides can speak several foreign languages in their sightseeing tours, especially with European guides. Usually a tour guide shows around in only one language at a time with one group but there may be exceptional sightseeing tours that require introducing in two languages. If this is the case, balance the time you talk in the two languages. Alternate the starting language each time you speak so that the clients feel equally valued. Have a short break when you change to another language.

Fluent in a language is one thing, while mastering the language of guiding needs more effort. Good tour guides can speak the language of clients, and make their sightseeing tours a great experience in a local way.

Friday 3 July 2009

Perfect timing in sightseeing tours - It's in the delivery

Being a tour guide, the content of your sightseeing tour introduction is a kind of art. Is it accurate, vivid, humourous, easy to understand? That’s all important for the travelers with your group. There’s also one more critical thing – the time you deliver the words of wisdom to your clients. Timing can be positive as well as negative to what you say. Manage the art of timing marks your success on your sightseeing tours.

The basic rule is to comment when all clients can see you so you engage them in the conversation. Of course, a brief mention is necessary at the itinerary introduction. You may also do a pre-intro to arouse the interest of traveler. OurExplorer suggest you save the best for on-the-spot commentary during the actual sightseeing tours. When people see in their own eyes, they will have a more vivid memory of what you said.

There are often sceneries or interesting things on the road if you are travelling with the client group. In this case, be prepared for it in advance and proactively point out the event before passing. Travelers may easily miss the scene as they are new in the location. By introducing it in advance, a tour guide has actually shown his knowledge of the place and familiarity with the route. However, don’t point out if you have already passed the site. Never say “we just passed … and it is …”, as you won’t turn around and the client will feel they missed something nice in your sightseeing tours.

Another timing management tip is the time on the coach, car, or any other vehicle. Know how long is takes from one stop to the next and prepare your length of talking in accordance. Avoid talking of the last item when you arrived at the next new destination. Also avoid long silence on the way but do give the clients a break from all your information and knowledge.

Do you manage your timing well as a tour guide? Please share your top tips...

Wednesday 24 June 2009

What not to do when giving bus/coach sightseeing tours

Best Sightseeing Tours by Coach/Bus

When you are guiding coach sightseeing tours, there are things a tour guide should avoid to ensure your professionalism. Here are the tips.

Do not act like a pop singer or presenter. You are a tour guide it is great to be humorous and knowledgeable but bad to be over-entertaining as that is not your main function to these clients. As many people say, “Tour guide is the unofficial ambassador of a city”.

Do not have things in your mouth e.g. any gum or candy. Small things make the difference to giving the best sightseeing tours. Even though you might be close to your clients after some time together, it’s not polite nor professional to talk while chewing.

Do not talk without testing the microphone. It’s not a must, but highly recommended as noise interference will give all a headache and noone the great wisdom you are trying to share. Check if the microphone works ok. Ask if people at the back can hear you clearly. Do not talk under the amplifier for it will cause feedback.

Do not talk to the driver with the microphone on. Likely wise, whenever you are not addressing to the group, turn it off. It happens that the microphone is left on carelessly.

Any tips of DO-NOTs you want to share from your coach/bus sightseeing tours experience?

Thursday 11 June 2009

Crisis on a sightseeing tour - Ensure happy endings

One charm of traveling is that the journey is full of mystery. Unfortunately, these include small accidents too on the rare occasion. An experienced tour guide is usually quick to respond and tries to turn such accidents into a happy ending. Let’s share some stories from OurExplorer sightseeing tours over the last 3 months.

Anne was visiting Shanghai on a business tour. First time in China, so she wanted to see more during the half-day sightseeing tours. She loves taking photos but unfortunately the camera battery was broken. There is no electronic shop nearby. Luckily the tour guide had a digital camera with her and with a simple solution of changing the memory cards the sightseeing tour was able to continue as normal.

Mary booked a cooking class while visiting Bangkok, but forgot to bring the school address on the day. Instead of heading back to hotel for the piece of paper and wasting precious time, the Bangkok tour guide with her called a friend to confirm the address on internet. Thus Mary made it to the cooking class on time without missing anything.

Kevin booked a Luxor tour guide for a sightseeing tour. He has communicated with the guide before hand and planned a great two-day itinerary. However, due to the accidental delay of arrival, Kevin had only one day in Luxor. The tour guide had a quick change of plan. A longer day tour, but Kevin saw what he most wanted to in Luxor. Happy that the delay did not result in much disappointment of his visit.

These are not big issues, but as a tour guide, you can help your clients with a better memory if you deal with crisis easily on the go.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

Tips to get client to book your sightseeing tours

What is the moment you were most excited to hear from OurExplorer? For most tour guides, it’s the email in your inbox “Excellent news, you have a confirmed booking on OurExplorer”.

The client found you on the internet, was happy about your profile details + offer and decided to book your service for sightseeing tours. To reach this exciting moment, here are some tips and next steps after receiving a client booking enquiry.

Be prompt to reply. This is very important. Imagine yourself as a client who is looking for sightseeing tours. It’s great to get a reply in 24 hours, even in 48 hours at the most, but quite disappointing when there is no reply after three days. Quick reply builds up good first impression. You also have higher possibility to get a booking as the client may check with several providers/competitors. So check your email regularly if you can. Do look at spam/junk folder in case of blocked Emails. If you change to a new email address, update relevant partners you are working with.

Be honest. Be honest and sincere in your replies. This is a flat world that people can get information from various channels. Don’t presume travelers know little even though they come from the other end of the world. Moreover, it’s good to get long-term benefits with a client rating after the sightseeing tours.

To the point. Every traveler is unique. They look for different things. So when replying to the client’s query, stick to the specific queries asked by the client. Do not include all your knowledge in one email reply. You may frighten them away with too much information. Many clients prefer the right answer, rather than an all-inclusive standard reply.

Offer more than they expect. Most people like extra free things. It is like the cream on the cake. Offer your clients some free service within your ability, e.g. a free drink, a local souvenir, free entry to a popular destination, a discount to a local activity/performance etc. These are the little nice things as an extra.

Do follow up and confirm the details. If you didn’t receive any message after your first reply, then send on a kind follow-up after 2 days. See if the previous reply was well-received, if the client had any further queries, or any decision on the tour. When the client showed clear interest in your service, ask them to make a booking for the day directly on OurExplorer.

What’s next? The booking email you have been waiting for - “Excellent news, you have a confirmed booking on OurExplorer”

Thursday 28 May 2009

Tour Guides - Focus on the needs of your clients

Have you as a tour guide ever thought over what your clients want when enquiring about your guiding service? They want a unique and fantastic travel experience. They want a local expert to make things easy. They want a tailor-made tour specifically for themselves and their travel mates. They want their money spent with best value... Yes, all true. Although every individual is different with their travel needs, there are some patterns shared by certain groups of people. By better understanding your client, you as a tour guide will provide service of higher quality. So let’s have a look at some clients who are interested in a private tour guide.

1. Business travelers. This group of clients are usually time poor. They visit a place for business, conferences, exhibitions and events etc. During their limited free time (usually half a day or one day), they would like to know the best of the city. As they are time poor do not present everything. Pick up the top things that meet their personal interests. Besides, business travelers are often interested in the area they are working on. A designer may be glad to see creative things, while an engineer can get excited about machines and buildings. Pay attention to their interest and broaden your knowledge in daily work. A great tour guide is more than a scenery narrator.

2. Cruise passengers. They tend to prefer a leisure way of exploring. While on the sea they enjoy their vacation. Once on shore, have want to experience some excursions and adventure. One character they share with business travelers is limited time on-shore. So pick up something unique and wow, not everything. And remember cruise passengers are on a vacation so they may want to be relaxed.

3. Senior travelers. After years of working, now they are retired. Their children have grown up and have their own families. So senior travelers have more free time to enjoy. They are usually not short of time for their tour. Design a tour with good combination of sightseeing and relaxation. Senior travelers also enjoy talking with people. Share their life experiences. A good guide shall listen to them and make good accompany during their tour.

There are many other client segmentations, e.g. luxury travelers, family travelers, independent traveler, religious traveler, adventurous travelers, student group, etc. Are you an expert at guiding certain group of travelers?

Share with us please, OurExplorer would love to hear.

Monday 18 May 2009

Best Tour Guide Blogs in the world - Top 5

From over 115 enteries around the globe - a panel of judges from OurExplorer have selected what they believe are the best blogs owned and update by Tour Guides.

Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your local wisdom with travelers around the world.

Blog Israel Tours
By Tour Guide Jerusalem city – Shmuel Browns

No. 2
Blog Forever Barcelona
By Tour Guide Barcelona – Marta Laurent Veciana

No. 3
Blog - China Tours
By Tour Guide Chongqing – Legend Kung

No. 4
Blog – Israel Photos
By Tour Guide Jerusalem area – Gershon Ferency

No. 5
Blog Insights of a Chameleon
By Tour Guide Dublin – Robert McElroy

The team at OurExplorer admire the dedication of each and every tour guide who maintains a blog with the goal of helping visitors gain insight into a new city before arrival. Well done.

Thursday 14 May 2009

How Tour Guides can spot unwelcomed guests

Last week, we mentioned that there are often tour guides in special-themed venues. These tour guides are specialized in their specific guiding area. Such tour guides may include museum guides, historical residence guide, and theme-park guide etc. The difference is that they only guide in a certain place for limited time. Some places provide a venue tour guide for free (included in the entrance fee). Some are pay-to-hire services.

If you are a venue guide that some client pays extra to listen to you, and there are hang-on tourists with your group, what would you do? First things first, bear in mind that your clients are your priority and should not be made to feel awkward. It is usually understandable with some people hang-on. Face and talk to your clients. Attend to their questions. When your clients have your full attention, they won’t mind with some more followers.

However, if there are too many hang-ons, or some people affect your group in a negative way, you should point out that this is a private group to them. You may talk with those people separately at a convenient time. Inform them how they can find and pay for a venue guide like you. Be polite, and do not shout to them in front of others. Even though they are not your direct client, they are visitors of your tourist venue.

Friday 8 May 2009

Tour Guiding in special themed scenic venues

Sometimes in the tour itinerary, there are locations with specific themes i.e. toys of various decades, movie production theme park, ancient rock painting exhibition, earthquake museum. These places have unique characteristics or styles. When a tour guide is showing around such scenic spots, it is recommended to fit into the scene.

For example, in a movie production theme park, visitors may see scene reproduction, super star signatures, movie-making tools etc. It is more of an entertaining place, rather than for education. Introduce the fun spots, point out the different from what’s seen in the movie. Encourage clients to try interactive devices as this will get their energy levels up.

However, if it’s an earthquake museum, or other memorial places of harsh history, the guiding attitude shall be totally different. You are not expected to give jokes in such atmosphere. Stick to the facts, and share the sorrow and hope for a better future.

In some special-themed spots, they provide their own tour guides. These guides are often more familiar with the place and exhibits. You may invite the spot guides to guide for the place, to make an even better experience for your clients. But as a professional guide, you still need to have certain knowledge of the place. Get prepared for the various questions from your client. The more they get answered, the better experience they will have.

Have you a favourite themed location in your city you can share with OurExplorer ?

Monday 27 April 2009

Learn as a Tour Guide not to miss your client start time

As a professional tour guide, you have communicated with your client back and forth. You have designed a perfect itinerary specially for your client. You have agreed on all the schedule and payments. Now it’s time of the tour day. Do not miss your client at the very beginning of the tour by being late for the start time. It will often annoy the client. And sometimes even affect the tour schedule. Here are some tips and reminders for you.

If your meeting place is at airport or cruise port, check with the flight/cruise arrival on the day. As a tour guide, you may have picked up clients for hundreds of times. But it’s recommended to check and make sure. Do not take it for granted. Flights may delay or cancel, or arrive early in some cases. Better not have the client wait for you, even though the flight arrives earlier. They have limited time in your city and prefer no waste. So it’s worth a quick call to confirm the arrival time. Same with cruise and other transportation meeting place.

In most cases you meet your client at their hotel lobby. So on OurExplorer, this is set as the default meeting place. How could you miss a client in a hotel lobby? Well, it may happen. Call the hotel to confirm your client’s reservation. Avoid going to a different hotel of the same brand. Clarify the meeting lobby with your client. In Shanghai, Grand Hyatt has a front desk on the 1st floor and lobby on the 54th floor. Shangri-la has two adjoining building thus two lobbies - just be careful of these potential points of confusion.

Sometimes the client would like to meet at a public place. As a tour guide, you need to make clear of the exact meeting point. It shall be with clear signs and away from the crowds. Otherwise, it’s hard for you to identify your clients, vice verse.

Thanks to the invention of mobile. If tour guides and clients have exchanged mobile numbers, it’s less possible that you miss each other. Even if you can’t dial internationally, short message may help. First impression makes a difference. So don’t be late, and start the tour without missing your clients.

Great tour gives you a great client testimonial and rating.

Friday 17 April 2009

Getting Clients to contact you - First Impressions critical

OurExplorer received some client feedback recently. I would like to share with you tour guides so that you know how a client selects his/her guide to contact and book.

Client Feedback Email

[From: Erika Rosenberg
To: Dave Cunningham
Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2009 2:22 AM
Subject: OurExplorer: What do you think of


Feedback - I love that they write about themselves so you get a real feel for who they are. One thing, you might want to mention to guides as at least for me, I chose the guides that wrote more about themselves. The guides that only wrote a sentence or two I passed over. Hopefully that helps!]

Now you know besides your photo and license (which are visual proofs), clients do value your self introduction i.e. "About Me" , "Interests" etc . This builds up their first impression of you and determines whether they email for a tour enquiry.

How to build up a good self-introduction? Here are some tips.

- Introduce your personal background (where are you from, how are you associated with your city etc.)
- Introduce your guiding experience (education received, license acquired, expertise in guiding, what your clients may expect of you, etc.)
- Introduce your city/country (a brief intro of your location, as travels may know little about it.)
- Express welcome and encourage contacting for more info.

Here is tour guide Dina in Israel with a good self introduction.

Friday 10 April 2009

Former Residence of Famous People - Tour Guide Tips

Most cities have a history related with famous people (or even infamous people). Their former residence and working place are often turned into a tourist attraction or memorial place. When tour guides are showing around a residence site, or historic house, a good knowledge of the resident’s whole life is a real plus.

Back to the guiding practice, it’s recommended to combine the objects seen with stories of its owner. Why is it displayed there? What’s the importance of it? How was it associated with the people who used to live here? Is it still in use or never seen in daily life? As we mentioned before, guiding is not lecturing. So this is not class of a historic person. It would be good to raise interests of visitors and they may explore more by themselves. Interaction with your clients is also encouraged.

Also pay attention to the environment, the connections between different rooms, the views from windows, etc. Is there garden or lake outside? Any special things about them? Notice the fire protection and safety. Some residence may be very small for group visitors.

Besides the past, introduce the current situation of historic buildings. Do they take on events of special exhibitions nowadays? Research or study on the residence or the famous people? Donations welcomed for the reservation? As a local tour guide, you may contribute to the local community while entertaining your clients.

Thursday 9 April 2009

Tour Guide Prize for Training correctly

So why do I need to spend so much time training as a tour guide I hear you all say?

Reason = You will then get client testimonials like this one for Tour Guide Mohamed in Luxor.

Client testimonial - March 2009

"We really enjoyed our day in Luxor with Mohamed. This was our first vacation out of the U.S. and we were a little nervous about leaving the tour group and going out on our own (also, a little nervous about hiring someone off the internet). Mohamed had quickly responded to all our questions by e-mail before our trip and he met us in the lobby of the cruise ship the morning of our tour and he was very helpful. We had to change plans because of flight schedules and make it one long day of site seeing instead of two days. He was very accommodating about our change in plans and we were able to see about five or six additional sites that the group didn’t see, including the Luxor Museum and the Tombs of the Nobles which were two of my favorite places. The price to hire him was about the same as the rate to go with the group (with the exception of all the extra tickets for the additional sites) so it was really a bargain! He also connected us up with a very good tour guide in Cairo.

We would highly recommend Mohamed (5 stars), he was very professional and a lot of fun. I would also recommend the benefits of a private tour guide but make sure they are certified and have the recommendations of a company like yours. We did learn the difference in a certified Egyptologist guide with reliable transportation and just a local when we were in Sakkara.

Thanks for helping us with a great experience in Egypt!

Gerald and Pat Cook"

Let OurExplorer know of any specific areas of training you require?

Friday 3 April 2009

What to talk about in Museum Tours

Galleries and museums are interesting places for some people while boring for others. The collections displayed usually take up most of the tour guide’s commentary. Besides that, there are more to cover on a museum tour.

The museum building itself. Many museums have an architecture that is specially designed for its collection. For example, Shanghai museum is in the shape of ancient Chinese bronze ware “Ding”. The architecture has also embedded the traditional Chinese “heaven and earth” concept with its round top and square base. The museum holds traditional Chinese arts and is known for its ancient bronze collection.

The history of the museum. Some sights are turned into a museum with its historic values. Like the Palace Museum in Beijing, it is known as the Forbidden City which was home to Chinese emperors in Ming and Qing dynasties. The British Museum has a history dated back to 18th century.

The fun and entertaining stories of a museum. The tour guide is encouraged to add interesting elements to a museum tour, so that people can enjoy more while learning. Famous people that visited the museum, movies shot related to the museum (Le fantôme du Louvre, Night at the Museum etc.). Yet be award not to go over the line. In the commentary, the tour guide shall still stick to facts, especially when introducing the collections.

We would love to hear from you and share

What’s your most memorable museum experience as a tour guide?

Monday 30 March 2009

ABC News Interview - About OurExplorer

Want to hear some background on how OurExplorer came to be?

ABC News Radio interview with the Chief Exploring Officer - Dave Cunningham - takes us back to why OurExplorer came about to help the tour guide industry.

OurExplorer Interview Here

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Smile Tour Guide - Your client is photo crazy

Photography and travel go hand in hand. Landscape, portrait, architecture, animals and plants… there are so many things to be shot on the tour. Some people do not take photos at all, but most travelers do. People tend to take more photos when visiting a new place/city. They are not necessarily photographers, but photo–lovers in various ways. As a frequent visitor, tour guides can assist photo-lovers with greater production.

Identify what type of photo-lover your client is and treat differently. Is she a typical tourist, taking photos of all famous scenic spots? Then a tour guide shall introduce the best-known spots, where he can find a nicer angel or a better view. For instance, in Baryon Temple of Siem Reap, Cambodian tour guides usually tell an interesting place where tourists can take a photo of “kissing the Buddha”. If the tourist wants to take things with their own observation, leave some free time at each stop. Let he explore by himself. If you are guiding an expert photographer, you probably leave them more space to shot what they want.

Do mind the tour arrangement though. Some photo-lovers may be so absorbed in one place that they forget the following schedules. A tour guide shall take care of the time. Kindly remind your clients of the original plan. If they would like to make changes, agree with the practical adjustment. But if such photo-lover is in a group with other travelers, you shall remind them of the time and carry on with the next destination.

Do remind your clients of no-photography moments. Some museums and art galleries forbid photo-taking. In some regions, local people are strongly against being captured in the photo. In activities like whitewater rafting, it is not safe to take pictures and may cause damage to the camera.

Let your client be creative. Do not try to be a master who knows where all good pictures are. A tour guide can know every corner of the city, but photo-taking is somewhat personal. You can’t dominate traveler’s perspective. Moreover, there are moving pictures and unpredictable moments. So suggest, but do not manipulate. Let your clients enjoy their own photos of the tour. Happy Exploring!

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Tour Guide Tips for On-site Presentations

Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you all.

When a tour guide stops to introduce a scenic spot, here are some tips for a better presentation. Besides the spot introduction you communicate to your clients (which shall be knowledge preparation in advance), your on-site control matters.

Choose a place capable of holding all your clients. Then you can present with less disturbance. If you stop at entrance or narrow sidewalk, your group will need to make way for passers-by. Both your clients and you are less focused. If you have to stop at such location, make your words brief and elaborate in the following places.

Start your introduction after your clients all gathered in front of you. This is to avoid people missing your major points. Also, it saves your efforts to repeat same information. You may raise your voice a bit higher to catch the attention of all.

In small-space popular sites like temples or museums, it often happens that several tour groups stop at similar time. Try to keep a distance from other tour guides, so that your clients can hear you clearly. Leave your back to the other guides and make yourself heard. But remember, do not shout.

When your stop is outdoors, take notice of the natural environment. It’s ideal to have clear weather without wind. But these elements are not in the control of a tour guide. What can you do then? Find a sheltered stop when possible. Do not let your clients facing the sun (makes dizzy and turn away). Have your clients stand downwind, and your voice can be carried by the wind.

Small details make big difference. What do you feel is most important to rember during an on-site presentation?

Wednesday 11 March 2009

The best tour guide walking tour tips

Staying on the same topic as last week, walking tours. A tour guide can be challenged of an ideal walking tour. It’s not as simple as Johnnie Walker’s words “Keep Walking”. You need to pay attention to the tour pace.

The tour guide’s speed needs to be ok with the slowest person in the group. Check the condition of your clients and make it easy for everyone to follow you. Mind especially if you are with elder people or children.

Walk in the front, or together with those in the front, as a tour guide is leading the way. You’d better not have your clients stop and ask you for directions. When you arrive at corners or turns, pause or slow down. See if all your clients are within your sight. Do not lose people, otherwise you will have trouble. However, it is also advised not to pause too often. People feel as well tired with slow speed.

As a walking tour guide, do you introduce to your clients while walking? Surely you do when you are with a small group of 2-3 people. But do not introduce while walking if you are guiding a big group of travelers. The problem with that is you can’t walk backwards to talk to the whole group. People may miss your points.

Wish tour guides enjoy the walking tour as much as the clients!

Thursday 5 March 2009

Tour Guide Transportation Choices for a City Tour

The discussion here is how to choose the best transportation means between scenic spots when doing a city tour.

The most common choice is a pre-booked vehicle, either it’s a coach, a van or a car. Choose dynamically according to the number of travelers and their specific needs. During time on the way, tour guide shall appropriately introduce scenery along the road or some local culture/life. When communicating with clients, do turn back to make eye contact and to address their interest. The tour guide needs paying attention to their own safety if standing on the vehicle to talk. Do not stand talking while the vehicle starts/stops.

For individual travelers, tour guide has a wider range of selection for transportation. Taxi, metro, bus, etc., the guide may choose the most efficient means considering distance and budget. One thing in mind, try avoiding peak hours in the city. Travelers only want to experience the local way, not to get jammed or crowded in public transportations.

A tour guide can also recommend unique local transportation which travelers won’t experience in their daily life. For instance, Tuk-tuk in Bangkok, jinrick-shaw in Phnom Penh, ferry in Shanghai, etc. They are active transportation tools, but a special local experience for travelers as well.

There’s also another transportation choice. We sometimes call it “Bus 11”, well, not necessarily a tool. It’s to visit with one’s own legs. Walking tour, as people are more familiar with. City walking tour has high requirements of a tour guide. The guide shall be well prepared for route selection, combination of spots along walking, speed and physical condition of travelers, resting points and toilets etc. But above all, walking is probably the best way to understand a city.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Tour Guides - Dining on the Tour

Chinese have a saying “people regard food as heavenly high”, something similar to “Bread is the stuff of life.” Dining on the tour can be an art. It requires the guide’s consideration on a healthy and cheerful experience of the local foods.

Clean and healthy is the basic and primary criteria. The tour guides shall take responsibility on the sanitary conditions of the restaurants. Moreover, check out special requirements before hand, e.g. if any vegetarian, kosher, etc.

Then, taste and specialty of foods matter. Tour guide is not simply leading the clients to a restaurant and call for the meal. The guide shall explain and help to enjoy local dishes. It’s sometimes challenging for foreigners to figure out by themselves how to eat. For instances, you don’t expect fresh hands to eat a crab smoothly, or non-westerners to use forks and knives skillfully. It’s important, as a tour guide, to introduce and instruct.

A professional tour guide also needs to pay attention to small details besides food and restaurant. Check the number of dishes – make sure there’s no missing or short of amount. Take a note of time – mind the following tour if any. For the tour guide himself, eat after all clients are settled and finish before they do, as the guide needs to coordinate throughout meals. Point out the restrooms. Make sure of payment of the meal. Remind travelers of their belongings. When it’s tour of a big group, check nobody has been left behind at departure. Tour guiding belongs to the service industry, and in most cases, attention to details matters.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Tour Guides - Perpare in advance for your clients

Are you sure that everything has been prepared before you meet your clients and start guiding?

As a tour guide, you may have visited your site for thousands of times, and know all the details of your guiding spot. However for a visitor, this is somewhere they had never been or scarcely know anything about. They expect the tour to be fantastic and memorable. So as a professional tour guide, you shall check everything before any tour for your clients.

Itinerary Preparation

Be familiar with the timetable and schedule. Tour guide is critical for both group travelers and individual clients. Make sure every detail is confirmed, what time, where to go and what to do. Confirm the site opening and closure, as they may change with summer/winter time, peak/low seasons, or holidays. Check if the activity is available, for they may cancel due to weather conditions.

Material Preparation

Travel is a way of consumption. The payments can be done by the tour guide or travelers according to your agreement. If a tour guide is required to pay for meals, accommodation, transportation, entertainment etc., do bring enough cash/money. Prepare for the vehicle if applicable. Confirm the vehicle condition and driver contacts. Also do not forget your guiding tools like tour guide certificate, microphone, and pick-up signs.

Knowledge Preparation

Your knowledge of the guided area, on-the-way sceneries, anecdotes… is basic. Tour guides, of course, are not encyclopedia. But the more you know, the better experience you clients would receive. Tour guide belongs the kind of miscellaneous career, requiring ongoing study and self-fulfillment. For example, the Olympic tour in Beijing after 2008, the coming 2010 EXPO visit in Shanghai. No matter you are a fresh guide, or a guide with 10-year-experience, you have to catch on with the new developments.

Psychological Preparation

Are you confident that you could satisfy your clients? They may have higher education, perhaps expert in certain industry, or with religion background … Do you have the confidence that clients of various types would be happy with your service? Well, do not panic. As mentioned before, tour guides are not encyclopedia. You don’t have to be more knowledge in all areas. Respect their knowledge or belief, and meanwhile, do your best to share the place you live and work. One way to help with your psychological preparation is to know about your clients before hand - where they come from, what age they are, if any special needs on religion or foods, etc.

Get ready with the above, and I’m sure you will start guiding with full confidence.

Thursday 12 February 2009

Tip for Tour Guides - Do not lecture

Travelers are not students. All tour guides understand it. However, many guides tend to lecturing rather than guiding with their clients. You may be very knowledgeable of the place or scenic spot, so you work hard to speak out on every bit of information.
Wait a minute, can your clients receive all this information, or just half of it? Pay attention to the client’s reply, either emotional or verbal. Do not lecture to them.
Guide books, promotional booklets, or guiding machines can do the lecture much better, standard and accurate. The value of a personal tour guide is to lead align with the scenery and emotions. For instance, on the bund of Shanghai, you are introducing the “International Architecture” with the city’s colonial past. Once facing the Pudong New Area, you are changing to the modernity and prosperous future of a bustling metropolis. Same location but different angles, the travelers will have very different information and a unique experience. Moreover, excellent tour guides communicate with their clients actively. They reply to questions that clients ask, expand knowledge when clients show interest, and appreciate when clients express exclamation.

How can your guiding remain in the tradition version of one-one communication?

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Tour Guide best practice - Pricing your tour

This week OurExplorer came across some very interesting experiences from some of the tour guide bookings on OurExplorer. Some tour guides like Pablo in Argentina (pictured) have a policy of including all fares, transport, food, drinks, entry fees etc in his day price. I think this works best for the tour guide and the client as it prevents any surprises. A happy client = a happy tour guide.

However some tour guides will try and request more additional funds from a client post the booking. Is this fair?

Tuesday 3 February 2009

OurExplorer - WFTGA tourist guide convention 2009


The Chief Exploring Officer (CEO) of OurExplorer was delighted to attend and present to the delegation in Bali 2009. Hundreds of professional tourist guides from all over the world attended.

Do you have any queries/comments on why licenced tourist guides are better for global tourism?

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Checklist for a tourist guide - OurExplorer

OurExplorer would like to give full credit and recognition to the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA) for these excellent checklist points.

Checklist for Professional Tourist Guides

Checklist: All Tours

1. Use top visual priority (TVPs)
2. Be flexible
a) Select appropriate commentary for group
b) Be prepared to change route
c) Be prepared to change the itinerary
d) Be able to provide alternative routes
3. Give a balanced commentary
Link, relate, qualify and develop according to timing
4. Stress the social history
5. Allow and handle questions
Always listen carefully, repeat the question and use it to gain further rapport.
Be honest: say if you do not know the answer; look it up and report
6. Give time for guests to talk
7. Limit detail to the important
8. Explain technical terms and jargon
9. Be confident. Conceal your nerves. Remember you know your subject well
10. Remember your assets: voice, personality, and knowledge… and smile!
11. Be imaginative
12. Use the visitors knowledge; find our if there are any specific interests and include them
13. Use common sense
14. Be diplomatic
15. Carry appropriate reference books e.g. for birds, trees, technical devices etc.
16. Present the site or experience in the best possible way

1. Forget to mark the tour in your diary immediately!!
2. Forget to count: group members, restaurant seats, entrance tickets etc.
3. Speak without having something to say
4. Express personal or negative opinions and/or comments
5. Present controversial topics: politics, religion, sex etc.
6. Assume existing knowledge
7. Assume customers to be ignorant
8. Presume to be an expert or get over-extended on a subject
9. Be negative e.g. “What a shame about the weather” or “This usually looks better” or “If only we could…”
10. Hurry your guests, comment on lack of time
11. Turn your back to the group or turn your head away whilst speaking (exception: moving coach!)
12. Start speaking before group is assembled and composed
13. Speak while walking
14. Overtire your guests with too much information or too many dates
15. Tell lies or make uninformed guesses
16. Offend your visitor
17. Argue – either with the customer or the driver, or indoor staff
18. Forget the name of your group, hotel, programme, voucher
19. Unfavourably compare guests or persons or programmes
20. Give medication to your clients

OurExplorer hope all you tourist guides benefited from these excellent points

Friday 9 January 2009

OurExplorer Tour Guide - New website version goes live

Thanks again for all your great suggestions during 2008 on OurExplorer.
Each tour guide who contributed and gave feedback has helped every new tour guide who will join OurExplorer into the future.

The changes to OurExplorer are focused on 3 main things -

1. Make OurExplorer easier to use
2. Increase the amount of tour guide profiles clients review
3. Increase the amount of tour guide bookings

OurExplorer would love to hear your thoughts on the new 2009 site.
Love it or hate it?