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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...