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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.