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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 -

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 -
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

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.

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?