We all love watching people’s eyes light up when they learn something new. Unless you love boring the hell out of people, you need a way to deliver the interesting facts without putting people to sleep. Here’s a few ideas to get people to love you as a guide and your team:
1. Take a personal interest in your guest. Endear yourself to your guests by having at least a small chit-chat with as many as possible. Find out where they’re from and how they’re enjoying the local area.
It’s the simple, small touches like this which spark the feeling of value that people get out of your tour. Being friendly is the foundation, and taking a personal interest builds on that – it makes people feel special.
As you can imagine, I’ve been on many tours all around the world. I enjoy going in as a quiet observer to see how things are being done by businesses in various places. The percentage of guides who take the time to chat and take an interest in me as a person is well below 50%. What a missed opportunity to build a connection with those people.
See if you can find ways to get guests to interact with you on your tour instead of dumbly listening.
2. Tell a story. I’ve suffered through tours where the guide has spent hours spitting out historical data without context.
When people overload you with information, you find yourself begging for the end. The exact year a big event happened is nothing compared to why and how it happened. Find the interesting nuggets, and weave the information into a narrative. Make it so people can place themselves into the scenario you are building and – here’s the key – really feel how the people live (or lived) in the context. If it’s a nature-related tour, you can still build narratives. There’s a story everywhere.
The fact that a building used to be important may not make it important now. It’s the human angle of that building which people will find most interesting, or how it relates specifically to them. For example, with a group from India, you could show them sites in your city that have historical links to their country.
3. Inject a bit of humor. You don’t need to be a jokester, but the occasional spot of humor will help. Think about it: people love laughing. Give them the thing that they love, and they will appreciate you for it.
It’s not about writing a million jokes. Find the interesting and crazy stories, flesh them out and focus on them. Find the contradictions that can be amusing.
4. Get dramatic! Get your guests to close their eyes and listen to your voice as you tell the story of the place and get them to feel the emotions of your characters. If talking about history, you can create an example character to talk about how someone would have lived during that time.
As you visit each place, show how your historical persona would have participated in that place and how it impacted their society as a whole. You could even create multiple characters – one upper class, one middle class and one working class. Use this to show how each of them interacted with the same place but in dramatically different ways.
The best guides are those that help you see something in a completely new light. Be that person.
5. Master the small touches. It’s the small touches that people remember and set you apart from an ordinary operator.
Bring sun block, free cold water or free snacks. This will show you as a genuine human being who cares about your guests besides just the dollars they can bring to you.
Even if you put up gigantic notices on your site and in your office saying ‘YOU NEED TO BRING SUN CREAM’, people will always forget. If you’ve been in business for more than two days, you’d know this. Prepare for people’s mistakes and the things that they forget, and they’ll thank you for it.
Another small touch is to provide a small info booklet at the start of the trip so people can follow along with what is happening.
It’s all about being a human being and doing things with love. If you’re asking yourself ‘how can I have the best tour possible?’, all this stuff will come naturally.
6. Be flexible to the needs and interests of your guest. The best tours are the ones where the guide can find points of interest to show each person so they can connect on an individual level.
Treat children like gold
If you have children, you’ll know what it’s like to travel with them. Sunshine, happiness and smiles 100% of the time, right?
Endear yourself quickly to parents by catering to their children. Play packs, snack packs or even just a free bottle of water will go a long way.
If your tour is child-friendly, take care to emphasize this in the tour descriptions. Show children in the photos you have on your site so that prospective customers understand that you can cater to families. Even something that you think would obviously cater to children may not be so obvious to another person.
A couple of ideas to make the tour more pleasant for kids:
1. Include them in the fun. Invite them upfront in your vehicle or to the captain’s area of the ship. Kids LOVE being placed into the seats where the ‘important people’ normally sit. People treat children like an annoyance, but if you treat them like a worthy human being, you’ll seriously make their day. Show them the various widgets that make up your operation. (Depending on the circumstance you may want to clear this with the parents first.)
2. Prepare fun packs — coloring, small games…The best idea I ever saw was a list of things the kids have to spot on the trip, and if they spot all 15, they get to pick from a lucky dip. It’s a great way to keep them engaged and enjoying themselves!
3. Bring things that parents need yet sometimes forget — baby wipes, bottled water, tissues, sun cream, band-aids.
Put a smile on that child’s face, and by extension, you will put a smile on the face of their parents (i.e., those people who paid you the money and may well leave you a glowing review the next day on TripAdvisor).
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