As a tour operator, it’s essential for your company’s well being to have the best tour guides onboard. You want to get people talking about you, and one of the best ways is to have great guides that people want to go out of their way to compliment! In general, those looking to apply for a tour guide position are probably (and hopefully) knowledgeable about the area in which your company specialises, though they certainly won’t know your tours as well as you do. Only you can help them learn more about what they need to meet your company’s requirements. Therefore, training your guides is a responsibility you need to take really seriously. That’s why we’ve put together five tips to help you train your guides into excellent touring machines:
Tip 1: Find the Right Fit Through an Accurate Job Description
According to Rezdy(opens in a new tab), the first step to hiring the right personnel is creating a good job description on your website. Ideally, it should be a separate section that is permanently accessible for all users and permits anyone interested to apply there and then. To make the job more appealing, try to show your company’s personality perhaps with a photo—or better yet, a video—of the team.
It’s crucial that the job description is descriptive and clear regarding the position’s key responsibilities. The future tour guide needs to know exactly what they’re getting into. It may even be worth pointing out one key aspect of your company that represents you best. Say you value interactive and dramatized tours—that is information that your future tour guides need to know, since they’re going to have to do a good amount of acting. Each tour guide has their own way of presenting their tours, but you want to make sure you’re picking the right one for you and your particular business. Have a look at Tourism Tiger’s tips on what to look for when hiring a tour guide.
Tip 2: Use a Protocol
Once you’ve found your ideal candidate (or candidates), it’s time to get them up to speed. Preparing a small booklet of all tours with their basic structure and key points for your new tour guides could be a wise idea—that way, your current guides can brush up on their skills if need be, and your new guides can get a general idea of the tours. Each individual guide can then decide the best way to interpret all information when taking their guests on tour.
Additionally, be sure to include videos and audio throughout the training to keep your team animated and enthusiastic from day one. Encourage your guides to communicate confidently with all customers while maintaining their professionalism. Closely linked to the confidence the guide will portray is trust. Once you’ve trained your guides, it’s crucial you completely trust them with the customers, as this will also give them the confidence to go off on their own and lead memorable and valuable tours. Developing a set protocol will help you and your guides to develop that trust and run a successful business.
Tip 3: Encourage Independent Learning
As tour guides, one of the key requirements for the job is to be an independent learner. Your tour guides must do their own research into each tour and all places involved. Nudge them to look into online training materials if they’re not too sure where to start. The Be a Better Guide Project(opens in a new tab) is a useful resource to recommend when training your future guides. You can find different workshops, PDFs, mini courses and so on, all related to touring. We’ve also put together a few tips on how to be the tour guide people love(opens in a new tab). Feel free to pass it on to your trainees! At the end of the day, each tour guide guides in their own way, so encourage your guides to develop their own styles and niches while staying true to your company’s target audience and values.
Tip 4: Inspire and Coach Actively
Your guides need to learn from experienced mentors to understand the ins and outs of the job. It’s definitely worth taking them out with you on a few trips before throwing them in the deep end. Make sure at the end of each tour (or throughout the tour, however you prefer), they have the chance to ask clarifying questions and mention the different aspects they liked and disliked. See what ideas they have related to the tours and consider implementing their feedback—after all, they are now part of the team!
Tip 5: Value Your Team’s Feedback
It’s important that you listen to your employees’ feedback on your delivered tours as much as the guests’. Teamwork is important for propelling your company’s growth as it promotes unity in the workplace. It‘s also important that your employee feels that their opinion matters and their voice is heard. When training your guides, they need to feel incorporated into this very new environment. Take a page out of our book if you like—here at Tourism Tiger, we spend an hour every fortnight discussing ways we can improve our business and it’s something we would recommend for every company, especially tour operators. Get in contact with us(opens in a new tab) if you’re interested in hearing more about our methods.
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