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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.