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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?