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Monday 27 December 2010

2010: Top Rated Tour Guides on OurExplorer

At the end of year 2010, we would like to share with travelers our top booked and rated tour guides. They have provided excellent services to travelers from around the world.

Shanghai Tour Guide - Jean Liu
Reviewed by Michael Hirai - "Our trip to Shanghai was wonderful thanks to Jean. We were impressed with her professionalism and her knowledge of Shanghai's history. We booked her for a full day to go to Zhujiajiao (a water town) followed by a tour of Shanghai. We asked her to show us Old Shanghai the next day and fortunately, she was available to do so. We also really enjoyed our time with her. She is a lovely young lady and both my husband and I would highly recommend her."

Bangkok Tour Guide - Irene K.
Reviewed by
Marco Ramos - "Thank you so much for the excellent tour ever! It was such a beautiful honeymoon for us. Bangkok Highlights and Floating Market programs are absolutely fabulous. Will contact you again when we come back to Thailand."



Athens Tour Guide - Diana Stefanou-Huttinga
Reviewed by
Robert Costello - "Our family of four (including two teenagers) toured the Acropolis and Athens with Diana in late August, and couldn't have been more pleased. Diana is outgoing, funny, and has great knowledge of the city and historical sites. She customized the day to accommodate our wishes, and found a great, non-tourist restaurant for lunch. A perfect seven hour excursion for our day in port!"

Kota Kinabalu Tour Guide - Grace Leong
Reviewed by
Paula Olymbios- " Grace is a national treasure. She is personable, very knowledgeable regarding the history, flaura and fauna of Sabah. She is passionate about tour guiding and this comes through during your interaction with her. She is enthusiastic energetic and devoted to the tour participants. Our teenage children voted Grace our best guide while in Sabah. An absolute pleasure."



Istanbul Tour Guide - NESRIN ULUPINAR
Reviewed by
Norman Steinberg - "It was so wonderful to have you guiding us through Istanbul. We saw far more with you than we had on our past visits. Your choice of lunch restaurants was fantastic. We would recommend you to any of our friends. Thank you for making our stay so memorable. Regards Rosslyn and Norman (Calgary Canada) PS. some of our friends will be contacting you shortly"


In the coming year 2011, OurExplorer will connect more travelers with qualified tour guides in 140+ countries. Happy Exploring!

Monday 20 December 2010

Set up your New Year targets

It is approaching a New Year 2011. This is a season for greetings as well as setting up near year targets. For development in your tour guide career, you can set up your new targets by looking back into the past days in 2010.

How busy were you and are you happy about the workload? Have you had a busy year with lots of client bookings? If yes, congratulations. If not, you need to look for more channels to develop your business. Internet is a good platform to approach clients, as most travelers seek information online nowadays.

Reflect on client feedback. Do you have happy clients or clients with complaints? It is great if you receive all positive feedback from your past clients. Your focus is then to maintain your service level. Complaints can also be helpful as they tell your weakness. You can improve accordingly in the new year.

Learn something new. Tour guiding is the work that requires continuous learning. Try to learn something new to help with your career. It can be a new language, a new skill, a new area to study, a new route in your destination of guiding …… Choose anything that interests you and can assist guiding in some way.

Do write down your targets and timeline for completion. You may refer to it from time to time, so that the targets can be achieved at end of the year.

Happy holidays and wish you a prosperous year 2011!

Sunday 12 December 2010

The 14th WFTGA Convention 2011

The 14th WFTGA Convention (World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations) will take place in Tallinn during January 29 - February 4, 2011.

According to Laura Taul, president of Tallinn Guide Association, “For the 2011 Convention we have suggested a comprehensive programme both for the participants in the Convention and for those accompanying them under the Theme Culture as a Unifying Guide. In 2011 Tallinn will be the European Capital of Culture, and naturally this became the underlying idea for our whole programme.

Our intention in drafting the programme has been to meet the expectations of members who want to learn and experience something new to enhance their professional skills, and also to provide a good experiential background to the training and discussions during the workshops organised together with the WFTGA."

The convention programme covers
Monday – Medieval Culture
Tuesday – National and Traditional Culture
Wednesday – Contemporary Culture
Thursday – Alternative Culture
Friday – The Role of the Culture Guide in Today’s Changing World

Viator (OurExplorer.com) has taken a sponsorship package at the upcoming Convention of the World Federation of Tourist Guides Associations. We will have an exhibition stand during this event and hope to meet those of you attending in person and to share more with you about our ongoing efforts to promote and support tourist guides. We'd love to hear from you at the 14th WFTGA Convention.

Monday 6 December 2010

How to arrange meals in sightseeing tours?

For many travelers, trying local foods and cruise is part of the fun during sightseeing tours. How should a tour guide choose dining places when there are several options? What to recommend and what to avoid for travelers? Safe and clean is the basic rule when tour guides pick restaurants. Below are some other tips to help arrange great dining experience.

Choose venues close to the scenic spots. Some restaurants can be great. However, if they are not along the route, it would be a bad choice. Travelers are limited with time, different from local residence.

Recommend restaurants with specialty. It can be a restaurant famous for local signature dishes. Restaurants with nice views are also a good choice. Travelers can enjoy the view as well as the foods. Try avoiding repetition during multi-day sightseeing tours. Choose different restaurants or styles unless your clients want to visit the same restaurant again. This is for travelers to try a variety of things during the short stay.

Help travelers with ordering. When visiting a restaurant of local style, a tour guide needs to explain briefly on the menu. It can be hard for tourists to choose as the foods or cooking might be unfamiliar. The guide can introduce the popular dishes, the materials used, or how the foods are cooked. Choose dishes with local flavor or uniqueness. Mind also the seasonal foods. If your clients are visiting among the season for some special dishes, why not introduce to see if they are interested? For example, October/November is the season for hairy crab dishes in Shanghai every year. Take an extra notice to the eating habits of foreign visitors. Are there any table manners that travelers need to pay attention, or can they handle the dining tools like chopsticks or fork?

Some travelers are adventurous with foods while others are very conservative. Ask about client’s preference of flavor and budget before choosing the restaurant. Give more recommendation if they are interested in local foods. If your clients prefer their home-style meals, a tour guide only needs to refer relevant restaurants.

What are your tips of meal selection in sightseeing tours? Share with us.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Tour Guides: Mind Road Safety

Transportation makes part of the sightseeing tours. Depending on the group size, it can be a private car, bus, or taxi. While the driver is responsible for safe driving, tour guides need to remind travelers of road safety.

Remind passengers of the seat belt. People from some countries are cautious of road safety, while others might neglect. After boarding the vehicle, a tour guide needs to inform clients where the seat belts are. Ask them to put on the belt for safety reasons, especially when there are kids on the vehicle. Take extra attention to see if the kids are safely fastened.

Mind your own security on the vehicle. If you are standing while it is driving, hold on to something in case of emergency. There is a place for the guide in front of a bus. If you are sitting, put the seat belt on. For one thing, the guide is often taking the front seat which has higher risks at accidents. On the other hand, a guide may need to turn back and talk to clients along the way.

When doing walking tours, tour guides also need to mind the traffic when crossing the street. Travelers are new to the destination, some even from foreign countries. The traffic rule and customs can be very different. As a tour guide, it is necessary to remind your clients of road safety. Watch out for the traffic when necessary.

Would you like to share your experience with us on road safety? We are listening.

Monday 22 November 2010

How to handle extra requests from clients?

When tour guides actually meet travel clients, they may be asked of extra service during the sightseeing tours. How do you handle those last-minute requirements professionally? You do not have to run desperately to meet every request from your client. If it is a reasonable and practical requirement, try providing the service for a better travel experience. If it is impossible to carry out, explain to the travelers and they would understand.

What can be asked extra on a tour guide?

Extra guiding day. The clients are so happy about your guiding service that they would like to spend more time with you. Check your availability. If you are available, why not extend your service? Discuss for the extra tour arrangements and itinerary with your clients. Thus, both of you are clear of what to do in the coming tour.

Extra places of interest. Sometimes travelers read about new places of interest outside the itinerary. They may ask to visit these extra places. As a tour guide who is more familiar with the area, you shall check possibility first. Do you have enough time to cover the extra place? It shall not affect the agreed itinerary. Do you have resources to visit the extra place? For example, if extra transportation arrangement is necessary. Is the place worth visiting? Talk with your clients to see what they expect on the new spot. You do not want to make extra efforts, only to find them disappointed.

Extra activity or entertainments. It can be an extended night tour, local performances, or a local signature meal... Again, tour guides need to weigh if the new requirements are practical. If possible to arrange, it is good to help your clients for greater fun. Communicate clearly on any extra costs. If it is unreasonable request, tour guide shall be confident to say “No”.

Any other requests did you receive from your clients? Have you handled the extra requests successfully? Welcome to share with us.

Monday 15 November 2010

Dressing Code for Tour Guides

How do you dress as a tour guide at work? It depends on what type of guiding you carry on. For example, mountain guides need different clothes from city guides. Adventure guides wear differently from museum guides. Walking guides may require more comfortable shoes than tour bus guides. Yet there are some general rules in dressing for tour guides.

Dress comfortably for your guiding work. Tour guiding is a physical work requiring a lot of walking, standing, and climbing etc. Sometimes when clients are at rest, tour guide is still busy preparing the next stop. Thus, comfortable clothes and shoes are important for a guide to complete the work.

Wear clear and neat, casual but not too loose. Guiding is a way of presentation. Clear and neat dressing provides a good first impression to your clients. As most tour guides meet clients on vacation and trips, casual dressing is recommended. It is awkward if you wear formal suits while the travelers are on T-shirts. On the other hand, because the guide is at work, it is not professional to wear too loosely like slippers.

Do not wear shinning but do stand out if necessary. If you are taking a ghost tour, or guiding for Halloween, abnormal costumes may add to the fun nature of tour. In the case of busy tourist spots, you may choose clothes with outstanding colours. It will be easier for clients to identify you during the sightseeing tours. Otherwise, casual smart dressing is recommended.

Do you have a brand or logo? Wear it on your clothes, hats, umbrella, bags… This contributes to your branding. Not only remind your clients of who you are, but also shows other people along the tour.

How do you dress when working as a tour guide? Let us know if you pay attention to any particular things.

Sunday 7 November 2010

How to present your sightseeing tour itinerary upon meeting?

Tour guides often communicate with travelers via email, telephone, fax, etc. to confirm sightseeing tour details. When you actually meet travelers on the day, it is good to present the printed itinerary. Clients will be clearer of what they are going to do with you. Some travelers might print out the sightseeing tour details already, while many more do not. A simply one-page itinerary will show your care on clients. Moreover, it can be a tool for promotion.

Why one-page? This is like a resume. Most people do not have the patience to read if it is overloaded with content. Just put the essential information, not everything. As a tour guide, you probably will talk through the information during the sightseeing tour. A neat and clear one-page itinerary is ideal.

What to include on that one-page?

The itinerary is the basic. When and where to meet, what to see, what to do… Depending on the tour nature, notes can be added on dressing or things to bring.

Add a receipt of payment details, or the tour quote agreed by you and the clients. This is to remind them of the total amount of payment. If you are guiding foreign clients who use a different currency from yours, it is helpful to include the amount in their currency. It saves the trouble of clients to convert by themselves.

Include tour guide contact details. This is to promote yourself and your guiding services. Easy for your clients to keep in touch with you or refer your service to other people. Better if you give your business card together with the itinerary. Branding is important, even though you just brand for yourself as a tour guide.

What do you include in the tour itinerary when meeting clients? Welcome to share your tips that will contribute to a successful sightseeing tour.

Friday 29 October 2010

How to keep your sightseeing tours fresh?

As a private tour guide, do you design your sightseeing tours yourself? If yes, it is important to keep it fresh. Tour guiding is not repeating what’s written on the guide books. It is to introduce the local scenic spots vividly with your own culture, customs and history. That is to say, a tour guide adds his/her own knowledge and wisdom into the sightseeing tours. It is how one can differentiate from others. Therefore, the best way to keep a sightseeing tour fresh is to keep learning as a guide.

Learn the latest news of your place of guiding. Travelers are interested to hear what is happening in the destination. It helps to learn more about the local life. History facts will not change often but people are changing in the daily life. With the up-to-date information, a tour guide is not repeating himself all the time.

Keep an eye on industry related information. You are not working alone as a tour guide. When leading a sightseeing tour, many parties are involved. E.g. transportation, restaurants, scenic spots, hotels… A professional guide needs to be well equipped with industry related information. It is no good taking the clients somewhere only to find out the place is closed under maintenance, isn’t it?

Expand your knowledge on what’s going on in the outside world. For a foreign language tour guide, you may pay particular attention to news of your major client sources. It contributes to wider topics at guiding. Also, when a tour guide understands more of other cultures, you can present your own culture in a better way and make easy for foreign travelers to learn.

Note the seasonal changes. Some destinations vary a lot in different seasons. For example, lakes in the city of Beijing (China) freeze in winter time. Local people do skating and ice activities on the lake. Such scene can not be seen in the summer time. When a tour guide is showing around in the winter season, the remarks shall adjust along with the seasonal change. This way helps the travelers to remember a more lively city.

By keeping the sightseeing tours fresh and interesting, a tour guide makes his own career a lot more fun. It is not only for the benefits of travelers, but for the growth of a guide as well. Now, are you ready to take a new look into your sightseeing tours?

Saturday 23 October 2010

What are expected from your travel clients?

Client feedback is great for a tour guide to improve services. No matter it is a testimonial to confirm what you have done well, or a critic to mention the unsatisfactory parts through sightseeing tours. We are always happy to hear from our “Explorers”. Below is a feedback from Ms. G. Once a tour guide understands the expectation of clients, he/she can create a memorable trip for travelers.

Feedback from Ms. G.
I wanted to take the opportunity to provide OurExplorer with some general feedback which could be considered as part of your standard operations/ processes.

1. Initial Meeting with Clients: It would be very helpful if the OurExplorer guide presented participants with a city map and city guide/ What's on in XXXX
It would also be very useful to provide a brief outline of things to note when visiting e.g. personal safety; shopping/banking information
[Note for tour guides: Why not provide a welcome pack including itinerary, city map and relevant info to your client’s visit upon meeting?]

2.Payment to Guide: OurExplorer should develop a sample form which requires the guide to sign that he/she has received the amount of XXXXX which is full payment for services as agreed. NB. We used a guide for 4 days and that meant a large amount of cash was handed over and we therefore had to ask him to sign that he had received the required amount in full payment.
[Note for tour guides: A receipt of payment to your client will be appreciated.]

3.Travel arrangements:
• OurExplorer should advise potential clients to discuss the pros and cons of transport arrangements with the guide so that there are clear expectations about how certain venues can be reached and what the approximate costs might be. For example, some clients may not realise that a visit to certain sights might involve considerable walking distances and therefore this needs to be made clear from the outset.
• OurExplorer guides need to be clear about what clients needs might be when day trips are involved e.g whether clients want to have quick snacks and drinks while "on the road" on a longer period for drinks and or meals.
[Note for tour guides: Pay attention to details. Private guiding services include all arrangements along the road.]

I hope the above suggestions are useful. We used other agencies during our 8 weeks in eastern Europe and found some practices worked well - if combined these would result in far better services all round.

Please feel free to contact me if you are unclear about the points raised. These are not intended as criticisms but merely suggestions for improving on what is done.
[Thank You, Ms. G.]

Sunday 17 October 2010

Tour Guide Survey with Irene K in Bangkok

1. What is the best thing you like being a tour guide?
Get to know people from all over the world.

2. What is your most memorable moment in guiding so far?
Being invited by many tourists to visit them back home which I did a couple of time in Australia, Germany. My tourists took very good care of me and I felt part of their families as I was there.

3. What is most challenging for you in this career? Have you coped with it?
Arrange tours for big groups (30-40 people). No problem. Experience teaches me. The more people, the more fun.

4. What is your favorite place/thing that you want to show your travel clients?
Fishing Village and Train Market.

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

Bangkok Tour Guide Irene K.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Build up your own client base

When you work as a private tour guide for travelers, you have the opportunity to know more about your clients. In many cases, a happy client and the tour guide can turn out friends after a trip. Therefore, build up a client base is important for guides to continue the friendship.

Why is it important to have a client base? You can not keep everything about your clients in mind. Popular tour guides especially need written records as they may meet different travelers on daily basis. You do not want the mess, trying to find out one client contact through thousands of mails. Records of client preference will help to grow your future business.

How can you build up your own base? It can be as easy as a collect of emails. You may save them by date or by country origin. A better way will be setting up a spreadsheet to centralize information. So you can easily sort out client info from various fields. If you have a mature business and want to have a more efficient client base, you can check out customer service software. There are many choices on the market. You just need to compare and pick up the one that fits your needs.

What to record in your client base? Basic contacts including name and email are critical for you to keep in touch. Personal backgrounds of your travel clients are useful to design a customized tour for their return trip. Some travelers do pay a return trip to the destination they like. If the tour guide has noted their preference, e.g. culture, adventure, foods, entertainments…, your client will acknowledge your personal service and become a loyal customer. Places visited during the sightseeing tour. It is similar with each tour, but not exactly the same. On one hand, you can avoid repetition of route for a return client. On the other, noting down the route helps the guide to remember tour details with different clients. It is also helpful to track client’s country of origin or source of the client booking. Country of origin helps to settle a targeted market, while the guide can decide promotional channels with data on booking sources.

Have you already had an existing database of clients? What other fields do you think are important for a better service? We would like to hear from you.

Thursday 23 September 2010

Client segmentation - Family Travelers with Kids

Have you ever guided family travelers with kids? The kids deserve special attention as they have different interest from adults.

If the family is traveling with infant, tour guides shall pay attention to physical matters. Find easy paths for baby carriage. During the trip, take more breaks if the family needs to take care of the baby. On the vehicle for transportation, make sure the baby is safely seated.

For kids who can take the trip as adults, a tour guide needs to mind his/her interest. Some children enjoy culture and history, but many will get bored after a while. Try to make the sightseeing tour more interesting with a mixture of facts and anecdotes. Explain things easier for the kids to understand. If there are special toys or games local children play, why not play with the kids?

Remind the kids of what they can do and what not. For example, in the museums, are they allowed to touch exhibits? In most cases, no. Boys can be naughty and make noises some times. Extra attention may be required if visiting religious places like temples or churches.

Consider the child price when designing a sightseeing tour. Many scenic spots offer discounts or free entry for kids. Similarly, if meals are calculated in the package, kids may enjoy a separate price.

Do you have any particular tips dealing with kids? Share with more tour guides around the world.

Friday 10 September 2010

Tour Guide Survey with Patrick Lovell in Tokyo

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

There are many aspects of guiding that appeal to me, not least of which is the ability to travel. I very much enjoy introducing Japan - the focus of my life since my high school days - and opening up the history and culture of the country to visitors. It is a constant pleasure to be a part of visitor’s discovery of Japan and help them get the most out of their travels and go home with a deeper appreciation of the people and their fascinating culture. I also enjoy creating great memories for visitors. It is a pleasure working with people from every corner of the world.


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

Watching visitors on tour responding to new places that they are seeing for the first time.


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

I always aim to please my client visitors and to accommodate their every wish. By treating each and every person as the unique individuals that they are, I have been able to meet most requests. I also want to be able to help them with any topic in any period of history for any area, so it is a great challenge to keep up with my studies.

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

I enjoy showing visitors places, and introducing historical facts that are important to understanding the history, culture, and Japanese people but are perhaps overlooked by many seasoned travellers and passed over by other tour companies.

As Lawrence Durrell says: “Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.”


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

I imagine that I would be very unhappy!

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Client segmentation for OurExplorer tour guide – senior travelers

We have mentioned senior travelers when talking about cruise passenger. Many senior travelers prefer a relaxed sightseeing tour. For a tour guide, you’d better not rush or push during the tour.

What other areas need tour guides pay attention to when showing senior travelers around?

Be prepared with the variety of topics. As senior travelers gain more life experience, they may be interested in many aspects of local life. How to cook local foods, how people live, how long do people work normally …

Listen to senior travelers and discuss the aspects they are mostly interested. Senior travelers would love to share their own experiences and knowledge. So listen to them. This is also the fun part being a tour guide. You meet various people, hear their stories and learn from their life wisdom. If you find any particular topic they are interested in, why not expand the discussion along the way? You will ensure senior travelers a great personal sightseeing tour.

Pay attention to your client’s physical strength. While senior travelers can be very active and energetic, as a tour guide, you shall pay attention to their physical strength. Consider more small breaks during the sightseeing tour. Mind if they have problems with stairs or climbing, and if elevators suit better. If your clients have mentioned illness or inaccessible activities in advance, do put it into consideration when designing the tour itinerary.

Pre-booking issues. More and more senior travelers now plan their tours online. They are getting used to online bookings. However, you shall not presume every one is internet savvy, senior and young. If your service requires pre-booking online, provide clear instructions on how to complete the booking. It also benefits a tour guide to reduce client cancellation because of technique issue.

Do you have any experiences or tips to share on guiding senior travelers?

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Client segmentation for tour guides – cruise passengers

What are cruise passengers looking for when they choose shore excursions? A comfortable but compact sightseeing tour schedule.

Cruise ships usually stop half a day to 1 day in each port. In some ports it will be 2 days. But in general the time on land is short and limited. So many cruise passengers expect to see as much as possible when choosing their shore excursions. A compact tour itinerary including must-sees is expected.

On the other hand, comfort is important. Cruise passengers are categorized as high-end travelers. They prefer comfortable experiences as like on the cruise ship. Budget is less of concern. When tour guides put together a sightseeing tour for cruise passengers, pay attention to the transportation methods, dining places, etc.

Many senior travelers choose to travel by cruise. This travel style ensures a relaxed slow-pace vacation. Thus the tour guide sightseeing tours shall be senior-friendly. If the tour is physically challenging, you may lose a big amount of potential clients.

Consider the distance from port. Some ports locate well in the city centre, where a tour guide can start guiding directly. Many others are by the sea and may take long to reach the first stop. Tour guides are not supposed to rest along the way. Use such time to introduce your city or country background, local cultures, food habits, etc. You can also take the opportunity to know a bit more about your clients and their interest. The info will help you achieving a successful tour afterwards. It is also recommended to notify interesting things spotted on the way.

Manage the time well. If a tour guide can maximize the client’s shore excursion experience, you will be rewarded and referred on by your clients. Also keep in mind the time back to the ship. Passengers cannot miss the ship. It is the same as catching a flight in the airport. So leave enough time to return to the cruise ship.

Have a look at the shore excursion packages provided by the cruise ship. See what they offer and do yours better. It is good to do competitor researches and learn from the cruise ship offer. A tour guide can thus design a sightseeing tour – more interesting and customized.

What is your tour guiding experience with cruise passengers? Welcome to share your tips.

Saturday 21 August 2010

How to handle client booking long before the tour date?

Some travelers make last-minute tour bookings, while others plan their trip way in advance. Many airlines offer great discount for flight booking in advance. Cruise plans are settled for sometimes a year ahead of departure date. Hotels market special promotions for low season. Once the dates are settled, many travelers tend to book their destination tour guide and sightseeing tours together at the same time.

Q. How shall a tour guide manage client bookings much earlier than the actual tour dates e.g. half a year in advance?

Communicate with the clients about tour arrangements immediately. No matter if the tour happens in the same week or six months later the itinerary shall not change largely. Do communicate with your clients about tour details when you confirm your availability.

As a private tour guide that offers personal sightseeing tour, it is good to keep the options open. Your clients may find new places of interest or have some new requests before arrival. Be consistent and accommodating if the client requests are reasonable.

Notify the clients when any tour changes need to happen. It is unprofessional to cancel the tour because of another big group booking. However, there may be changes required due to personal reasons, weather conditions etc. In such cases explain to your clients in full and they will understand. Also provide alternative choices if possible. Try to minimize changes to your client’s travel plan.

Mark down the tour date on your calendar in OurExplorer or personal notebook. It is recommended to set a reminder one week before the tour date. Contact your client to welcome them for the coming visit. Meanwhile, confirm that all tour arrangements are going on as planned. Re-check if all tour arrangements have been confirmed, e.g. car/van rent, tickets booking, etc.

After above professional communications, travelers will enjoy a great vacation while you will have a successful sightseeing tour as a tour guide.
.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Interview of Tour guide Jean Liu in Shanghai






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


Talk with people from different countries and various backgrounds.



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


Accompanied two families with kids for a week in the city. After the vacation, they said Shanghai is probably their most favorite city around the world.



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


To cope with different personal interests. As I am a private tour guide for my clients, different travelers will have their own needs. E.g. some people are more interested in local foods, while others prefer shopping. Some business travelers would like to visit places relevant to their work, e.g. teachers to the middle school. There are always new challenges on this and I’m happy to receive.



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


Pudong river front promenade where is close to the modern highrises while overlooking the bund with buildings from the early 20th century.



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


Some area that can maximize using my English language skills.
.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

OurExplorer Interviewed by Wandering Educators - Dr. Jessie Voigts

See full article at - http://www.wanderingeducators.com/best/traveling/learn-locals-our-explorer.html

Always looking to learn from locals? I've got a great resource for you! OurExplorer is an excellent resource for finding local tour guides, so you can learn about a place from the people who know it best. OurExplorer has a plethora of local tour guides (over 2,000) , all around the world (about 140 countries). They are rated and reviewed by users, so you know what you're getting is quality. OurExplorer is yet only two years old this year and has a great record of sharing the world with travelers. We were lucky enough to sit down and chat with Dave Cunningham, Chief Exploring Officer at OurExplorer. Here's what Dave had to say...

WE: Please tell us about our Explorer...
DC: OurExplorer is an online website promoting licensed dependable tour guides to global travellers - www.ourexplorer.com.
OurExplorer was established in June 2008 and has now over 2,000 licensed tour guides in 140 countries around the world.
We are in partnership with the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA). See more information at About OurExplorer.

WE: What is your travel background - how did you get interested in starting Our Explorer?
DC: After attending the 2007 EO Tokyo University and feeling inspired by the speakers, I took a “mini retirement.” I traveled for four months across Europe and South America seeking out new ideas and problems that I could solve using my keen business sense. I was on a mission to make a difference in the world, and it made me feel alive. I found my calling while traveling. I had hired private tour guides in Bolivia, Peru, Cuba and Mexico to show me around. I was amazed at their passion, energy and level of intimate knowledge. I was equally shocked that these highly skilled people often earned less than US$100 per month! I wanted to help and support these guides because I respected them for trying to improve their lives.

I had the option of donating to these communities, but I knew I could do so much more. I resolved to help thousands of private tour guides, especially in underdeveloped countries, earn more money. It was an unyielding promise to help the less fortunate who were already trying to help themselves.

I followed my instincts, and a dream was born.

I quickly put the plan together. I would create a Web site that provides global exposure and user-generated ratings for tour guides around the world. This would lead to more business, which in turn meant more money for those guides struggling to feed their families. Tour guides could get paid directly in cash when they meet with the traveler, which saves them from doling out commission to local travel agents. We called this Web site OurExplorer.com.

WE: Where are your guides located?
DC: We promote local tour guides, thus our tour guides are located in over 450 cities covering 140 countries. And we are still growing daily.

WE: What are their qualifications?
DC: Each country and/or region has their own qualification system for licensed tour guides. Our tour guides have passed their local exams and acquired a tour guide license/certificate. Some guides are even international tour leaders.

WE: How can travelers find the best fit with your guides?
DC: As we provide direct communication between travelers and local tour guides. Travelers can enjoy much more personal data about the tour guide to make an informed decision compared with traditional booking through travel agents. Once a travel destination is decided, travelers can search and find local guides on OurExplorer. We recommend;
- Read the tour guide’s self introduction and service provided to see if he/she fits your needs
- Read the rating/reviews section from previous clients
- Contact the tour guide directly via “Send Email” and see if they reply quickly addressing the travel needs.
- Book the tour guide on OurExplorer to reserve the date, as the top tour guides are always popular.

WE: What should travelers know about working with a tour guide?
DC: Tour guides can address to personal needs and make customized sightseeing tours for travelers. The more travelers inform the tour guides about their travel interests and needs, the better your tour will be with the local guide.

WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
DC: A dependable local tour guide adds a lot of value to travelers who seek an authentic and meaningful overseas experience. Explore through the eyes of a dependable local.

WE: Thanks so very much, Dave! I love Our Explorer, and highly recommend it to our Wandering Educators.
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Tuesday 3 August 2010

Client segmentation for tour guides – business travelers

As a tour guide, especially foreign-language tour guides, you are meeting travelers with various needs. Business travelers belong to a specific group. Their main purpose of the trip is on business e.g. a company visit, business cooperation, market investigation etc … Sightseeing can make up part of the trip but is secondary in importance.

So how can you design an ideal sightseeing tour for business travelers?

Be accommodating to their business needs. Business travelers usually have a short time in one destination. The free time for sightseeing is often their holiday time. Are they expecting an evening tour? Do they want some local exploration between business meetings? It is helpful to know their available time and pick-up/ending locations. Thus a tour guide can provide the itinerary most accommodating to the work plan.

Be flexible with the schedule. Business trips are not as flexible as a vacation visit. For a vacationer all the time belongs to them personally. For business travelers there may be a temporary meeting, an extra plant visit or a dinner with partners... The clients would appreciate you as the tour guide being flexible with the schedules. Of course the guide cannot always stand by. Flexibility works only when both parties are available. It reduces full cancellation in some cases.

Maximize the experience to personal interest. As the tour time is limited, you can not show business travelers everything in the destination. Sometimes, you may not even cover the most famous spots. Ask your clients about their personal interest. Let them choose the places they would like to visit, and help you make a customized sightseeing tour itinerary. This will maximize the trip experience. Some people are frequent travelers to one destination. They could have known part of the city very well, e.g. area nearby the local office. It is necessary to ask in advance, avoiding duplicate visit.

Get prepared with some industry-related queries. Business travelers may be interested to get some industry information from different people. This time, from you as a local guide. You are not expected to be an expert in the industry. However, if you know your clients’ area before meeting, it is recommended to read some relevant news or search for some industry background. This will contribute to your communication with clients during the trip.

What is your tour guiding experience with business travelers?

Thursday 22 July 2010

How to promote sightseeing tours via video

Using video to promote sightseeing tours is not as hard as one might think. Thanks to the developments in camera and internet technologies people are used to watching and sharing videos online. A travel video can be more vivid than static photos. Tour guides should take advantage of such modern technologies to promote various sightseeing tours via video and build client trust to book them.

See tour guide with video

1. Choose a tool to record the video.

A video camera can provide high quality movies, but it is not a must. One consideration with video camera is the file size. The bigger the video file is the faster your internet connection is required to save it. No one wants to spend a whole day uploading one video, right? Cameras are widely available. Most cameras nowadays have a video option and the quality is pretty ok. Many mobile phones also have a camera tool. Some computers have built-in cameras which you can use directly. Remember the purpose is to promote your unique sightseeing tours or show your personality and English fluency to potential clients. Blurred images create nothing but negative impression. Choose any recording tool that is convenient and fit for the purpose of your sightseeing tour promotion.

2. Select the best background and thing to say in the video
What will help your clients confirm the tour and increase client bookings for you? Again, do not forget the purpose of your videos. This is not destination promotion but to promote your tour service. The clients will be more confident when they see and hear you directly. You can show your favorite part in the destination where travelers can’t find in any guide books. The most famous or impressive scenic spots may also work with you doing the introduction. It is easy to identify the sightseeing tour location when you present by the most famous views.

3. Some editing work may increase the promotional effect.

For example, add a subtitle to tell where you are or who you are, edit video length to present the key information, reduce noise in the background to complete a higher quality presentation … Microsoft system has windows movie maker for easy editing. Ulead VideoStudio software is also a good choice for beginners. Short videos less than 3 minutes are good. Also put the best content or most important messages at the begging. Because, 1) the file is not too large to upload onto the internet, 2) leave more sightseeing tour introduction to your actual meet with clients, 3) internet surfers may not be interested enough to complete the whole video, or their website connection is too slow to load.

4. viral your videos
You can upload your video to platforms like YouTube, DailyMotion, MetaCafe… Share your video link among friends or networking sites like FaceBook. Tell more people via social media sites e.g. Digg, StumbleUpon. Promote through tour guide websites like OurExplorer, where video presentation is allowed.

Think creatively! Videos allow the tour guide to present sightseeing tours in a vivid way and motivate a client to booking your tour services.
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Tuesday 13 July 2010

Tour Guide Survey with Jose in Acapulco



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

The best thing be a tour guide is to have the opportunity to meet people from other countries and tell them about the history and customs of our people.

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

The most memorable moment well there are many ones, I had great experiences when we had big groups of tourist coming and we didn’t stop doing tours all day long for six months.

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

It’s a challenge to take the same tourist to different tours and still they enjoy them.

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

My favorite place is the cliff divers show, the tehuacalco archeological ruins and the museum of san diego fort.

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

I don’t know my first job was a taxi driver at the age of 18 years old and I loved the experience.

See more on tour guide Jose in Acapulco

Friday 9 July 2010

OurExplorer started a Tour Guide Photo Contest!



Have you got some memorable travel experiences with your local tour guides?
Did you take fun pictures of your guide during your overseas trip?

OurExplorer present you a great opportunity now to win 5 free private tour guides for your next overseas trips - you can activate them anytime.

Join Tour Guide Photo Contest 2010 – OurExplorer Now!
Submit a photo of you with your tour guide or just the tour guide on his/her own. Put in a phrase what best describes your tour guide in the photo.
Example = “my best tour guide”, “my funniest tour guide”, “my most clever tour guide”...

The deadline is 31st August 2010. Waiting for your great photos!

With a private tour guide, you can have an authentic yet customized adventure overseas. OurExplorer has now over 2,100 local tour guides in 140 countries.

Saturday 3 July 2010

Win client bookings - Critical Information

When you create your tour guide profile on OurExplorer.com, you have input a lot of information e.g self introduction, tour guide license, tour guide services, sightseeing tours... This is all necessary information to let clients know you and trust you. The more information, the more trust you will build up with potential travel clients but do you know which elements are critical to win a final client booking?

From OurExplorer client feedback, they usually choose the tour guides with a personal photo, highest "tours booked" number and some positive ratings/reviews given. As we know, most important elements shall be put at the top position of the page. You can see that tour guide photo and tours booked are displayed above the fold of the webpages. Moreover, a most recent client review has been presented directly following the tour guide self introduction. Thus, visitors don’t need to scroll down to the bottom of the page reading important client testimonials. In most cases, web surfers do not finish all the page contents to the very end of the page. That’s why we design the tour guide profile layout as you see now.

What can a tour guide do with these fields to win more client bookings?

A happy smiling photo is best to give a good first impression to your clients. You can display a welcoming smile photo like tour guide Diana in Athens, or a cheerful photo of you with happy clients like Nairobi tour guide Paul. It is also fun to display you in your working environment. See Kasane tour guide Clive playing with the elephant.

"Tours booked" numbers and client reviews are closely related to each other. The more bookings a tour guide receives, the more client reviews after the sightseeing tour is completed. When a tour date and terms are agreed, ask the clients to confirm by booking at your profile webpage. When the tour is finished, ask your client to rate your service on OurExplorer.

The clients also have more confidence in booking a tour guide with a license and video presentation. A scan of your tour guide license/certificate builds more trust. What can be better than a brief video of you taliking passionately about your job? It adds great value because clients like to see and hear the tour guide. With a live video, tour guides can present their character and language skills. See Istanbul tour guide Nesrin and Bangkok tour guide Choojai .

If you are a tour guide, do you agree with the critical elements mentioned above? Any tips to better present yourself for more client bookings?

Thursday 24 June 2010

Tour Guides globally celebrate OurExplorer 2 year Birthday

Thank you all for your kind 2 year birthday wishes, here are just a few examples from around the world.


Sunday 20 June 2010

Tour Guide - What questions may help your tour guide service?





When tour guides are showing travelers around a destination, what do you talk about besides the standard guiding content?

Perhaps exchange personal information is a good idea to get to know your client more and build trust and friendship. It is quite ususal for tour guides and travelers can become friends after several days together. What else shall a tour guide choose to talk about during sightseeing tours? If you have enough time with your clients, it will be great to cover some of the below topics.


Q. How did you find/locate my tour guide service?
If not mentioned in previous communication, it is important to know how your clients locate you. Is it via an internet search, a friend referral, a newspaper advertisement …? You can then focus on the more efficient channels to receive future clients.

Q. How do you usually learn about a destination when you travel around?
This question is for client segmentation. You possibly already know the purpose of their trip before meeting them e.g. business trip or cruise vacation. Ask a bit more about their general travel methods so that you can target your client group more clearly in future e.g does the client usually use a group guide, guide book or private guide new in a new destination? When marketing it is good to be focused with certain groups. Do you have more business tourists? Do independent travelers or cruise passengers require your service more? Do senior travelers prefer your sightseeing tours offered?



Ask for feedback at end of the tour.

Have a summary of the day trip, the areas covered and ask if they enjoyed the day. Did they expect something more? If you are confident they had a great tour with you, why not ask for a written or video testimonial? Travelers are happy to talk about their trips, especially a memorable experience with a wonderful local tour guide. For clients from OurExplorer, why not reminding them to save a rating and review on the website after the tour? Client feedback is good for a tour guide to improve their service level. A testimonial adds great value to build trust with future clients.


What questions do you usually talk about with your clients?

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Tuesday 1 June 2010

Tour Guide Jobs - How to become a professional tour guide?

Summer is coming and we are entering peak holiday season in Europe, Americas and Asia. There is a big demand of professional tour guides. Big events like the Fifa World Cup 2010 in South Africa and Expo 2010 in Shanghai have brought more tour guides job opportunities and relevant jobs in tourism and travel.

If you are interested in a tourism career, becoming a local tour guide can be a good start. Ask youself – do you have the passion to show your city and is your personality fit? Although tour guide jobs requires various skills, it is a job to have face-to-face communication with travelers. When you don’t have the passion to show your city, people, customs and life in this city, you would easily get bored going the same routes. If you prefer dealing with computer/numbers to real people, a tour guide job will not fit you. Being passionate and fit for the job, you can go on the next step to get qualified as a tour guide.

How to become a licensed tour guide? The requirements vary with different cities and countries. The best way is to check with your local tour guide association or tourism administration. It usually requires passing the exams (written and/or oral), or certain training programs. WFTGA.org (World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations) has members of official tourist guide associations in many countries around the world.

In many countries, the qualified tour guide will acquire a license/certificate to go on daily guiding jobs. Practical experience is important to develop your career as a tour guide. You learn how to deal with different clients and needs, get mature on addressing to various questions, grow experienced to handle emergent situations… Day-to-day guiding work will distinguish excellent tour guides from poor-performing ones. Tour guide job requires as well continuous learning. The information is changing and the city is growing. A professional guide needs to be equipped with latest information, so that you can show your travelers in an up-to-date way.

Career prospect of a tour guide. Career prospect applies not only to a tour guide, but to any one who is seeking personal development in his/her job. For a tour guide, what can be your career prospect? You can focus as a tour guide, and become expert in the field. For example, in China there are different guide qualification levels of junior, middle-level, senior and superior tour guides. Kenya safari guides are noted with bronze, silver and gold levels. Another development is mastering other languages to be a multi-lingual tour guide. If you want more adventures in this career, you can turn to a tour leader for overseas trips. With your first-hand experience as a tour guide, you can design unique sightseeing tours with your specialty. In this way, you are shifting to a tour manager or marketing person for your own tours.

There are many tour guide jobs in tourism and travel. Start learning to be a licensed tour guide first, and practice to be a top excellent tour guide in your career.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Tour Guide tips to avoid client cancellations

How early do you travel clients book your guiding service? Some people book last-minute trips and may require a tour guide while they are already in town. Some travelers prefer good planning and may book their trip a year in advance.

Sightseeing tour cancellations usually do not apply to last-minute booking because the tours happen right away. However, cancellations do happen more with tours booked long before the actual tour date. Before we talk about ways to avoid client cancellation, we need to know the reason why travelers want to cancel the tour.

There are unavoidable reasons like natural disasters, political issues, etc. The volcanic ash in Europe caused thousands of flights to cancel or delay. Demonstrations in Bangkok have turned violents and thus travelers change their destination due to safety concerns. Cruise lines change route and skip the port in their original plans is another reason out of the traveler’s control. There is little a tour guide can do with such cancellations.

Another possibility is personal reasons - family members pass away, work changes, physically unfit for the trip … The clients may have to cancel or delay the whole trip. With these situations, you may offer your tour guide service in their next visit. Be attentive to their personal reasons and leave the tour options open. Travelers will appreciate your understanding and may still pass on the word about your service even though they haven’t met you as planned.

What OurExplorer do not wish to see and what a tour guide really should avoid is a client cancellation because of low professionalism. E.g. change the price from original communication. There are high and low seasons in many destinations but once a price quote is agreed, it is very poor performing of a tour guide to ask for more money. Even worse is short notice before the tour date. Slow reply to the client queries after they made the booking. Clients will feel less confident with you if their questions are not addressed properly and quickly.

There are occasions that a tour guide is unable to guide as scheduled (not because you got another more profitable booking). In such cases, you should communicate with your clients and explain the reasons clearly. Meanwhile, find a dependable tour guide for your client as a substitute, so that their sightseeing tours will not be affected.

It takes efforts to build up client trust and confirm a client booking. Do you have problems with tour cancellations? What do you do to reduce the number of cancellation? Share your problems and we can discuss.

Thursday 13 May 2010

Tips for Visiting 2010 Expo Shanghai

Shanghai finally welcomes the opening of Expo 2010 after eight years of preparation. As the biggest Expo site ever in the event’s history, it is not easy to cover everything in one day. However, you can do it in an efficient way to avoid crowds and maximize your visit. Here are some tips for visitors to Shanghai and Expo 2010 for a great experience.

There are 8 direct entrances at the Expo site, another 4 ferry entry locations, and 1 metro line entrance. It is recommended to avoid entrances in the Pudong side. Most country/city pavilions are in Pudong area, as well as the Expo Axis (main entrance), more visitors tend to enter there. It takes longer to pass the security check entering the actual site. Moreover, the machines to reserve popular pavilions e.g. China pavilion will be running short. Entering from Puxi entrances (Gate 1, 2, 3) can be a better choice to avoid crowds and start the Expo visit in a fresh way.

Besides public transportation like metro, Expo bus, ferry, the Expo taxis in light yellow-green colour are easy to identify. They are much newer and also bigger in space. Note that common taxis can't access to the Expo area.

The Expo site is opening till 24:00 every day, so a late start may help to avoid crowds. If you enter around 11 – 12 am, there will still be 10+ hours to visit various pavilions. Moreover, you can enjoy the night view of various pavilions and the stunning one-arch Lupu Bridge.

After you arrived at the Expo site, there will be the security check. Have a read of what can bring and what are forbidden, and you can get through the security check quicker. E.g. water is not allowed to bring into the Expo site.

Once you entered the Expo site, it is recommended to get an Expo site map first. You can get a better idea of the layout and plan your itinerary of the day. Where to get the map? In the information centre near entrances. Make a reservation of the pavilions if required. Many popular pavilions require reservation, e.g. the China Pavilion, the Theme Pavilions… Appointments can be made with the booking machines near entrances. This is to better control the visitor flow in the site and avoid extreme long queuing.

Last but not least, check out performances of your visiting day. There are in average a hundred performances every day. You can enjoy various entertainments presented by different countries and regions. It can be good stops between pavilion visits. You can also see some sightseeing tours.

Done with the Expo visit? There is yet another bigger stage - the city Shanghai! You can extend your exciting Expo travel with city visit and sightseeing tours customized by your local Shanghai tour guides.

Montenegro tour guide in the travel media

OurExplorer are delighted to bring to your attention that Montenegro tour guide - Vesna Alavanja has been written about in the media by a travel journalist.
Read here - the article about this excellent Montenegro tour guide

Have you had an article written about your tour guide services that you wish to share with OurExplorer?

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Friday 30 April 2010

Tour guide Nesrin in Istanbul






Tour guide Nesrin in Istanbul

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

I think tour guiding is the most suitable job to my life style and personality. I'm a very active person and good at communication,

easy going and flexible; love travelling, people, and the most important adore Turkey and its cultural, historical richness. I am also so proud of my country and my people so I try to do my best to show my beautiful country to my guests and make them contact with locals to understand the real life in the country.


2) What is your most memorable moment in guiding so far?
Tour guiding does not mean talking about everything that we know. All of our guests are interested in different things; some of them love history, some likes to hear stories of people and monuments and some loves taking pictures and enjoy the moment.
Once, I had an international group (Canadians, Avustralians, New Zealendars, Americans) ranged from 30 to 65 years of age and we were on a round trip in Turkey for 14 days. Each of them were interested in different things. I like making my guests involving the tour with sharing their knowledge, experience, memories and skills. We were in an ancient site which was called Arycanda on the Mediterrian site of Turkey. We were the only group in the site. I had already finished my explanation about the ancient Roman theatre and its great acoustic. In order to check the acoustic :-) I asked my quest who was good at singing and some of the lady sang a well known song with her wonderful voice and we were all happy to live that moment like Romans. Then we move up to Gymnasium of Arycanda and everyone was ready for the running race for a free ice-cream at the end of the day :-) We all had a wonderful day and It was everyone's favourite site with memories.


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

The most challenging thing is serving to people. Most of our guests have different interests, needs, expectations so we , as tour guides should be flexible enough to meet the expectations of our guests and make them enjoy their time us. I believed that I've coped with it successfully.


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

Istanbul !! It was my dream to live and have tours in this wonderful city. I adore Istanbul:-)) Istanbul is among the special cities of the world with its position as a bridge between Europe and Asia. It unites its natural beauties with its historical and cultural accumulation. Wherever you look, there is a story to be told. You do not need to go further to see the historical sites, you live with it while you are wandering in the streets of Istanbul. It is the midpoint of the new and old ,modern and classic. It is a privilage to visit Istanbul and being a guide in this beautiful city.


5) What if you were not a tour guide? What do you imagine yourself to be?
I would be a chef in a restaurant that serves intercontinental cuisine. I love cooking and try different recipes from the world cuisine. My husband is my gourmet :-))
It is among my future plans to have cooking tours in Istanbul to introduce the rich Turkish cuisine.

Sightseeing tour with Nesrin - Istanbul Old City Tour

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Tuesday 27 April 2010

Visit Shanghai for the World Expo 2010 - Best tour guides

“Being the first World Exposition on the theme of city, Exposition 2010 will attract governments and people from across the world, focusing on the theme "Better City, Better Life." For its 184 days, participants will display urban civilisation to the full extent, exchange their experiences of urban development, disseminate advanced notions on cities and explore new approaches to human habitat, lifestyle and working conditions in the new century. They will learn how to create an eco-friendly society and maintain the sustainable development of human beings.” -- Expo2010.cn

Book a dependable tour guide in Shanghai


Travel in Shanghai - sightseeing tours

Shanghai is a vibrant city with over 20 million residences. It is the financial hub of China as well as a popular sightseeing destination. The city offers a variety of attractions, from the modern 21st century highrises to the colonial western architecture, from the historical Chinese garden to the local lane houses Shikumen.

For more details, check out http://www.ourexplorer.com/shanghai-tour-expo2010.aspx

Thursday 15 April 2010

How to customize sightseeing tours for travelers?





Travel agents usually offer standard packages for destinations. Travelers can choose between the offers, but not so easy to change the itinerary in a package. It is hard to find customized sightseeing tours to personal interests. The advantage of having a private tour guide is the flexibility of sightseeing. Here are some tips for tour guides to create client-oriented sightseeing tours.

Consider the country origin of traveler. People from North America have different cultural background from Asian travelers. They are interested in different things at the destination. E.g. Tuk-tuk riding can be an amazing experience for American people while not to the interest of Vietnamese. Chinese travelers may find cathedrals imposing while British people are used to them at home. Japanese visitors prefer more time at shopping while Malaysian are more interested in food. Even within the same continent say Europe, travelers from different countries will differ in their customs. People from the same origin share similarities in culture and customs. This may not apply to all individuals from one place. Yet knowing the country origin will help a tour guide to customize the initial tour schedule. The more a private tour guide considers, the more possible a client will confirm the sightseeing tours.

Consider the personal background. School teachers are interested in local schools and education system. Children prefer fun activities to pure cultural visits. Business people may want to see their industry products at the destination. Include something relevant to the traveler’s personal background when possible. This offers clients with a real customized sightseeing tour to their interest.

Consider the purpose of visit. Are the travelers coming for a family vacation? Is it a short extra day from business trip? Are they cruise passengers looking for a shore excursion? For family vacations, travelers usually look for a relaxed tour schedule. Entertainments and attraction for the kids will be appreciated. Business people are limited in time so they would prefer a compact itinerary to maximize the experience. Cruise passengers also stay short at destinations, from half a day to 2 days in one port. However, many cruise passengers would enjoy a leisure plan with visits to major scenic spots.

Consider other elements to make a better plan. For example, the number of people in the group to arrange transportation and restaurants, season and weather conditions if certain activities are affected, children and senior people in the group to adjust activity intensity…

Customizing sightseeing tours is all about personal interest. Destination is the same but travelers want their own trip and unique experience. Sightseeing tours are not about the scenic spots, but about the traveler’s visit. It is “my” trip and vacation that travelers care. Therefore, tour guides shall develop the sightseeing tour to the traveler’s personal interest.

Have you any tips to share on customizing your tours?
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Wednesday 7 April 2010

Tips for Cruise Passenger pick up by tour guide

Cruise passengers are a big group of clients for tour guides in coastal cities around the world. Some tour guides targeting luxury travelers focus on cruise ships only. Cruise pick-up is similar to meeting at the airport but has its own situation. It is different from meeting clients at the hotel lobby or other venues. Here are some tips for cruise ship pick up.

Check the cruise port, especially when there are two ports at your destination city. Sometimes there will be a cruise port in city centre, while another far out by the sea for bigger ships. Check with the cruise port as well as your cruise passengers. Avoid missing your clients and wasting your effort.

Re-check the cruise stop and weather on the day. It is recommended to re-check the cruise stop on the day or one day in advance. It happens that the cruise ship changed the port of their original plan. Or they cancel the stop because of cruise itinerary changes. Sometimes, extreme weather like big fog prevents the ship from docking on time. One solution is giving your full contacts (mobile especially) to the cruise passenger. Thus, as a tour guide for pick-up, you can be notified of any sudden changes.

Confirm the cruise ship people exits
. Are there several exits at one dock? Some ports are very busy that they provide several exits for passengers from different cruises. Make sure you are waiting at the right exit. Do your clients need to get outside the port to meet you? There are many ports where only big travel agents can get close to the ship. If yes, inform your clients in advance so that they know where to find you. Do hold a clear sign with the client’s name. Cruise ships are usually big with several thousand passengers.

Any experience you want to share about meeting cruise travelers?

Friday 26 March 2010

Tour Guide - How to efficiently use your webpages?

The importance of internet is growing quickly in the travel industry. More and more travelers now use internet for trip planning, destination reviews, and online bookings... If you are a tour guide with your personal website, or a simply web profile page, how can you maximize your online presence with the webpages? Rather than creating a website and leave it aside, you can efficiently use these online contents when talking with potential clients. Your tour guide webpages can be a very strong sales tool.

When clients enquire about general tour information, the ready-made content from your webpages can be forwarded to the clients directly by URL. However, be specific. Don’t overload your travel clients with too much information. Forward them the very relevant page addressing their queries e.g. your profile page with prices and licence copy saved.

One easy way of using your webpage is to include the tour guide URL in your E-mail sign off (signature). It makes your “E-business card” more professional. People would like to know more about yourself and the guiding services before they confirm the booking. A web page is easily accessible for them to get some information.

Include testimonial pages when talking with potential clients. On www.ourexplorer.com these client reviews are outlined clearly if you enjoyed past client bookings. The reviews and testimonials from past clients help to build up trust. Webpage with testimonials can be a very strong sales tool. Do not hesitate to show your testimonials, either on your own website or from other travel review websites.

Use the social media. Everyone is talking about twitter, facebook, google buzz these days. Social media is a method of inbound marketing. You can use it to connect with clients. You can also use these social media sites to promote your webpages. For instance, add the URL to your twitter profile, share links with your facebook friends, buzz your unique sightseeing tours.

Promote your tour guide profile webpage URL on other websites, forums and blogs. Blogging is a good way to keep your website up-to-date. Search engines like google value new contents and updated website.

Your webpages shall not be a dead presence. It is a good platform to promote tour guide services and various sightseeing tours. Proactively use it to receive more visitors and get new client bookings.

Have you any suggestions on using your OurExplorer tour guide webpages?

Example URL = http://www.ourexplorer.com/tour-guide-suanne-adelman-6927.aspx

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Wednesday 17 March 2010

Tour Guide Rob McElroy and Dublin sightseeing tours

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

Firstly, as I'm an expressionist, it gives me a chance to convey and impart what I know and have experienced in my life in Ireland. But in addition, because I'm a poet and a writer and also like to sing, it allows me the opportunity to use these skills and augment a tour and a commentary for clients. I also love telling and narrating a story so what better way than incorporating all of these things and joining them together like a thread to a needle!

I also feel that as I've studied many subjects and visited and been to many places in my land, tour guiding is the best format to bring them all out AND AVAIL OF THEM!



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

I think I would have to go back to the time when I started out: I first worked on an Open Top Bus and by the nature of that service, many people Hop On Hop Off every day - one such person was a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz. We had a chat - which in itself - was memorable – and he said that ''I was the best Tour Guide in any of the places he had visited on his vacation of European cities because in places that weren't interesting, I still made them interesting!''. Then he gave me his autograph!



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

The most challenging thing is, that one is dealing with human beings with different moods, feelings, interests, motivations, incentives, expectations, and one has to meet them - essentially it's being adaptable - I've coped quite well but life is a learning curve and there's always room for improvement!



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

Tara, Co Meath, because it was the ancient capital of Ireland – a special place which links history, mythology, legends, archaeology, folklore together. Unfortunately, it's not that easy to get to.



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

I'd be a Travel Writer because it'd incorporate my writing and my travel/tour knowledge!

A sample of Rob's dublin sightseeing tours

Have you had some similar tour guide experiences you want to share?

Friday 5 March 2010

Tired out during your sightseeing tours? Tips to Relax



Tour guiding is a physically-challenging as well as mind-absorbing work. A tour guide can be really stressed out if you don’t relax properly. This is especially important when leading multi-day sightseeing tours. You shall not use up your energy in the first day and struggle with fatigue through out the remaining of the trip. Balance yourself.

While planning the sightseeing tours, leave the evening of the tour free. The clients can enjoy themselves and you can refresh yourself for the next day. Have a short break after max. 2 hours (especially in walking sightseeing tours). It can be on the coach/vehicle, a short tea/cafĂ© break, free activity time in a scenic spot…

During the sightseeing tour, you can consciously relax your body now and then. When standing, stand straight with your weight well balanced on two legs, lower the shoulders and do not have a stiff neck. Keep your voice to a moderate noise level so long as every tourist can hear you. Take deep breath to fill brain with oxygen. Use middle finger to press in the middle of two eyebrows. Rub both ears from outer centre to top to hear better. Yawn or bubble the cheeks, shake muscles free.

When you have a moment with yourself, do some body exercises to get refreshed. For example, roll the head from left to right shoulder. Swing your arms around the body. Stretch arms above head and lean to each side. Turn around the body with arms swinging along…

What helpful tips do you use to release stress or fatigue while guiding? Share with OurExplorer .

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Tour Guide Barcelona - Shares her experiences with OurExplorer

Tour Guide Marta in Barcelona


I took a course on the Catalan Way of Saint James. Low season is a time to keep training and learning new things that can be interesting for me and my clients, so Monday and Tuesday I attended a workshop organized by the Tourism Department of the Catalan Government.

In the middle ages, pilgrims used to cross Europe to reach Spain and visit the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the Apostle Saint James is supposed to be buried. Now the traditional paths pilgrims used to get there have become a very popular holyday experience that mixes religion, with hiking/biking/horse riding, enjoying nature and gorgeous landscape, getting to know first-hand the local lifestyle, and discovering valuable architectural and artistic heritage.

Although the Catalan ways to Santiago aren't as famous as the two northern ones, pilgrims have also traditionally crossed our region on their way there, and now the Tourism Department has collaborated with different specialists to promote them. Guidebooks are being issued, the paths have been marked, and they are working to get more and more services open for pilgrims along their routes. Althought it definitely isn't as fully equipped as the traditional paths are, our ways are a great option for those who have already done the others and are looking for something new, and it's also way less crowded that any other other option.

As for me, although obviously not many pilgrims are likely to use tour guide services, I thought the worshop was very interesting and I learnt a lot about the routes and what you find along the way. I now actually feel like exploring pieces of it with my boyfriend some weekend!

Read more on Marta's blog - http://foreverbarcelona.blogspot.com/

Thank you for this very interesting experience share. Do you have tour guide experience to share with OurExplorer?

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Tips to confirm a booking with your clients

When a tour guide works for travel agencies, you usually wait for the company to pass on confirmed clients to you. When a tour guide is in contact with potential clients directly, do you realize that you actually play part of the role as a sales person? In fact you are the sales person and need to close the sale to get the business from the client.
You need to tell your clients why they should choose to travel with you. Give them confidence to click the final button “Book this Tour Guide” so you can earn some more income.

Here are some tips to seal a deal with your prospective clients



1. Give thanks to them for contacting you and welcome the clients to your city.


2. Notice the client’s personal interest and promote specific sightseeing tours. Pay attention to exactly what the client asks for in their first email to you. The closer you get to their interest, the more possible clients will choose your service. What differentiates a private tour guide from package tour is the tailor-made personal tour experience. The tour can be customized to personal preferences, tailored to their time of visit, or match the age span in the group.



3. Think in advance of your clients. As a tour guide, you are more familiar with the scenic spots, itinerary design, cost included or excluded in your tours etc. Will the place they are interested be closed at weekends? Is car renting required for their group and for what price? Is it better to quote also in their currency to save them from rate checking? Reply to your clients proactively. Do not wait for their queries.



Now that you are both happy about the tour arrangements, it is time for a booking. Do not presume that your clients are all internet savvy. Some people are but alot are not internet smart. Why not make it easier for your clients to book you? For example, if clients have chosen a sightseeing tour with you, send them the exact tour link/URL directly. So they can just hit the button “Book” and complete quickly and simply.



Do you have any successful tips to close a deal with your prospect clients?

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Tour Guide Survey with Adel in Cairo

Tour Guide Adel Taha, Cairo Sightseeing Tours


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

the best thing of being a tour guide is the work and people. i go to this work and i love it. i have some days in cairo, some around other parts of Egypt.so i love to be at new area and enjoy it. Also i have no manager telling me what to do ,but i do what's my heart telling me to do for my clients to make them happy and enjoy every mintue. I was born beside the temple of kom ombo in aswan. so it's in my blood to show people our places, temples and that's making me more happy to see them smiling and want to visit and see more of this places.



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

when people are ready to leave, specially when they are here for a long tour(many days)but sometimes they don't want to leave me not Egypt as their time here is so special. that happened to me the last group...



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

some local rules that delay us from making the tours in the format we would like to.



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

the great pyramids of giza......for sure.



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

if i wasn't a tour guide - wow - i can't imagine to be anything else.....so i will be just an Egypt tour guide, nothing else.



Check out sightseeing tours offered by Adel


shore excursion from alexandria port to cairo
12 hours

As a tour guide, do you have stories to share?

Thursday 28 January 2010

101 top tips for the best Sightseeing Tours

Here is an excellent collection on 101 top tips for the best sightseeing tours - courtesy of OurExplorer

How to Design a Sightseeing Tour
1. Ask the client beforehand about interest and preference to develop a customized tour.
2. Mind the cultural background of clients.
3. Check with the clients about their physical strength in walking, hiking or other adventurous tours.
4. Check with the clients about food alerts if meals are included.
5. Design a sightseeing tour according to the client’s time of stay.
6. Choose the transportation that is convenient and with local characters.
7. Take different routes from and back to the accommodation to avoid repeated info.
8. Shout your specialty when designing a sightseeing tour.
9. Show your humor and wisdom in your sightseeing tour.
10. Do not include similar sites or activities in one day.
11. Offer alternatives to allow tourists choose with personal interest.
12. Visit the distant sites first and then the nearby spots.
13. Do not include distant visit on the day of departure.
14. Balance time of walking with time on the vehicle.
15. Leave the evening free with options recommended.
16. Consider influential elements like weather and have a plan B if possible.
17. Provide clear information on tour details to avoid misunderstanding.
18. Add photos to your sightseeing tour presentation to inspire tourists.
19. Add videos to your sightseeing tour presentation to be heard.
20. Offer freebie if available.
21. Offer more options to encourage client contact.
22. Include cancellation policy if necessary.
23. Introduce something about yourself to build up personal connection.
24. Present the tour proposal neatly on one page.
25. Provide full contacts for clients to find you easily.

What to Prepare before a Sightseeing Tour

1. Exchange email and mobile with travelers or tour leaders to avoid missing each other.
2. Check weather forecast 3 days before the tour to prepare for the unsatisfactory weather.
3. Get familiar with the tour itinerary and schedules.
4. Be prepared with knowledge on things-to-see.
5. Familiar with transportation between different stops.
6. Check arrival info of flight/train/bus/cruise on the day in case of delay or advance.
7. Confirm with the hotel for client reservation to avoid waiting in a wrong hotel lobby.
8. Do not forget materials of the tour like itinerary, microphone, tickets and pick-up signs, etc.
9. Be punctual at meeting time and place.
10. Locate the vehicle and communicate with the driver about the day tour.
11. Take note of the vehicle’s colour, number, and parking spots to get on smoothly at each stop.
12. Test the microphone before talking, either it is on the coach or your personal appliance.
13. Check if everyone is on board before leaving for the next destination.
14. Count heads one more time from back to front with big tourist groups
15. Have a quick look at overhead luggage to ensure no fall-over.
16. Remind the tourists of safety belts or other facilities on the vehicle.
17. Notice tourists not to walk when the coach is moving.
18. Make a note in advance if smoking, eating or drinking is not allowed on the vehicle.
19. Notice the facilities in each stop like toilets, entrances/exits, souvenir shops, taxi stands, etc.
20. Choose restaurants with good sanitary condition.
21. Dress professionally and properly for the sightseeing tour.

What to Take Notice on the Sightseeing Tour

1. Take the guide’s seat to talk to the whole group easily on a vehicle.
2. Give safety instructions to tourists when necessary.
3. Remind travelers of their belongings whenever getting off the vehicle.
4. Notify tourists of no-photography, no-smoking, no-feeding or other inappropriate behaviors.
5. Inform clear meeting time and location before free activities.
6. Do not guide in more than two languages.
7. Do not talk to the driver with the microphone on.
8. Do not talk when there is gum, candy or other things in your mouth.
9. Talk slowly and clearly when giving commentary.
10. Make sure tourists sit at the back can hear your words.
11. Face your tourist group while talking.
12. Guide in the front and lead the way - best tour guide method.
13. Adjust your pace to be ok with the slowest person in the group.
14. Stop or slow down at corners to avoid missing people.
15. Choose a place capacious of holding all your clients.
16. Do not talking to the whole group while walking.
17. Avoid talking in the sun, wind, rain or other uncomfortable environment.
18. Keep some distance from other tourist groups to avoid disturbance.
19. Start your introduction after your clients all gathered in front of you.
20. Adjust tones to fit into sites with special themes.
21. Point out good stops for photo-taking.
22. Manage the time to avoid over-stay or rush-around.
23. Recommend dishes with local characters.
24. Check food quality and quantity at meals.
25. Introduce unique local dishes and explain how to eat.
26. Spread your attention evenly to avoid any neglecting any client.
27. Deliver when clients ask for extra service and you agree.
28. Inform clients of itinerary changes and explain why.
29. Upgrade in service if possible.
30. Smile is never too much.

What to discuss during the Sightseeing Tour
1. Deliver a welcome speech with consideration of the pick-up location and time.
2. Do not overload with information.
3. Listen to the clients during the tour to find out their interest.
4. Separate general introduction throughout days with multi-day tours.
5. Stick to the same topic on themed excursions.
6. Give commentary according to the tour length.
7. Know the length of driving and prepare topics accordingly.
8. Commentary on scenes or people along the way.
9. Cooperate with national guide, local guide, or tour leader on what to say to avoid repeated commentary.
10. Comment when all clients can see what you are talking about.
11. Point out clearly what you are talking about avoiding ambiguous words like “here” “there”.
12. Introduce facts, and anecdotes.
13. Include latest news, developments and changes when available.
14. Use descriptive languages when introducing a something.
15. Talk informatively and humorously, but not act like a comedian or scholar.
16. Explain technical terms or jargon.
17. Welcome questions from travelers and answer properly.
18. Compare with things or spots familiar to clients for easy understanding.
19. Add stories/interpretation associated with the non-ideal weather to cheer up client moods.
20. Contribute to the local community or organization when appropriate.

How to Conclude the Sightseeing Tour

1. Reflect on what has been covered during the sightseeing tours.
2. Publicly thank the diver for his good job.
3. Publicly thank fellow colleagues cooperated in the sightseeing tour.
4. Thanks to the clients for their cooperation and support throughout the tour.
5. An email follow up with thank and feedback request to the clients.