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We’ve written about books, and we’ve written about podcasts, so it only makes sense that we take a look into movies for tour operators and tour guides. One thing that not many people know about the team at Tourism Tiger, is that we love to watch series and movies. Accordingly, it only makes sense that we put together a list of movies that feature tours and guides in a variety of formats.

When it comes to movies about travel, most people automatically think Eat, Pray, Love. But we’ve gone deeper finding takeaways from a variety of movies that focus on, or include a part specifically about tours. So sit back, relax and enjoy as you indulge in some…”business research”.

1- My Life in Ruins (2019)

A recently laid-off professor finds herself working as a tour guide. Having lost her passion for Greek history and culture, it negatively affects her disposition as well as her tours(opens in a new tab). She comes to learn the importance of balancing the informative and the fun.

What we can learn from it:

Guides face a lot of pressure to be perfect at all times, and to continuously offer the perfect experience. But guides, like the people on their tours, are people after all. Being called boring is tough to hear, but as an operator if your guide possesses skill and potential, work with them so that they can offer an improved experience, which in turns benefits you. . Again, it’s important to read your group, they’re made up of a variety of personalities(opens in a new tab), but people still go on a tour to have an enjoyable experience, otherwise they could simply read the guide book on their own.

2- The Breakup (2006)

Vince Vaughn’s character plays a tour bus operator/guide whose personal life takes a turn for the worse as he finds himself living with his recently broken up ex-girlfriend.

What we can learn from it:

Let your guests know the experience they can expect from the very beginning, if your tours are all about having fun and a good laugh, then highlight this! The perfect tour maintains the right balance of fun and information no matter if you offer a walking tour or outdoor tour, people want to know your insights and experiences. Additionally, as challenging as it is, remember to maintain a work-life balance. A successful business requires a well-working and respectful relationship between guides, owners, and remember that bookkeeping is always important too.(opens in a new tab) Also, keep in mind the extra challenges that come from working with your family members.

3- Monte Carlo (2011)

A trio of young travellers(opens in a new tab) head to Paris for their vacation, only to be extremely disappointed by the misleading advertising and overall poor quality of the tour. Luckily for them what follows leads them on a whole other “on-in-the-movies-esque” adventure.

What we can learn from it:

A tour can both make and break a vacation experience, so don’t let your tour be the reason someone looks back on their vacation with less than fond memories. Be sure to have a system in place to keep track of your guests throughout the tour, so as to not accidentally lose a guest or even worse, leave someone behind. While these travellers ended up having a whirlwind experience that made up for the initial mishaps, in the real (non-cinematic) world this would have been a much more dire situation on many levels.

4- Murder Mystery (2019)

While the majority of this movie centers around an all-too-real murder mystery, the reason why the principle characters find themselves in this predicament is that they are immediately turned off by the tour they booked. It goes to show how a poor tour experience can have a much larger impact (for better or worse as is the case in the film). Interesting to note that Jennifer Aniston made it into two movies on the list.

What we can learn from it:

First impressions matter– a lot! Whether it’s your tour vehicle, the number of people,  or the general atmosphere you present — these factors will either secure your customers confidence in the experience they are about to have or create a sense of doubt and regret. Also, be sure to be as prepared as you can for the unpredictable including the proper type of insurance.(opens in a new tab) Lastly, be open to feedback throughout the tour process, including criticisms so that you can look to improve the remainder of the experience and apply any necessary changes for future tours.

5- Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Arguably a cult-classic, this quirky and eccentric film follows the title character on his cross-country journey to recover his stolen bike. Notably along the way he makes a stop at the Alamo where he takes a tour, which although only accounts for just a few minutes of the film, it manages to provide many teachable moments.

What we can learn from it:

Don’t force your guests to hold all of their questions to the end. While you can finish your point, allow multiple opportunities for questions, so that guests don’t forget their question or lose interest in asking while waiting. It’s also essential to read the crowd and adapt accordingly in order to ensure that guests are enjoying the experience throughout and to avoid the dreaded unexpected negative review. Additionally remember to be conscious and considerate when discussing other cultures and we definitely recommend that guides do not chew gum while giving a tour, as it’s both distracting and arguably unprofessional. Lastly, don’t laugh at guest questions, instead turn such a situation into a positive learning experience.

6- If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969)

A charming British tour guide takes a group of American tourists on a multi-day tour around Europe. Along the way there’s many sights to see, romance, complaints, and lots of laughs.

What we can learn from it:

Tour guides wear many different hats during the tour process, and this is only amplified when it comes to multi-day tours(opens in a new tab). Timeliness is crucial, there’s not much of a worst first impression you can make than showing up late for the tour. Consider the balance between showing travellers sites, but also allowing them the time to actually enjoy them rather than always feel rushed. Losing your guest is never acceptable, so in addition to regularly checking all attendees are present, have other fail-safe measures in place so that one doesn’t accidentally end up on the wrong bus in another country. When it comes to providing an authentic experience, give travellers an opportunity to taste local flavors. Be prepared for when disaster strikes such as your vehicle gets a flat tire(opens in a new tab). Lastly, when it comes to debonair tour guides, always lead with professionalism.

7- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)  and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

(depending on if you prefer the classic or modern adaptation)

You may not have been expecting to see this one on the list, but as you’ll remember the whole tour centers around a guided tour by Willy Wonka himself of his infamous candy factory. Along the way there’s a tug of war because of the fantastical location and the arguably over-curious tour takers.

What we can learn from it:

As an operator and a guide, you have every right to set your own rules and regulations when it comes to cancellation or rebooking fees, safety requirements or any other protocols during the actual tour. And for those who do not respect these points, there are consequences (reminding customers about the guidelines, directing them towards your terms & conditions or cancellation policy, and if necessary removing them from a tour. Similarly, as a guide, you’ll be faced with challenging customers(opens in a new tab) but it’s your responsibility to maintain control of the situation and not let one (or more) troublesome guests negatively affect the experience of your other guests. Best to avoid the specific tactics that the tour guests were exposed to in the film such as chocolate rivers.

8- The Cruise (1998)

This documentary will definitely not be to everyone’s taste, but it is certainly the top recommendation on this list. This philosophical existential take on being a guide in New York City is simply mesmerizing. Throughout the documentary, you’ll likely be left wondering if this is a genuine representation of Timothy or some sort of caricature. At a minimum you’ll be impressed by his grandiose monologues interweaving history, popular culture, and a banal interjection as they pass by a department store. What else could you possibly expect from a guide who sites Willy Wonka as one of his inspirations.

What we can learn from it:

Guide personality matters, and people appreciate it. Guides should be their authentic selves no matter how quirky. But moreso, one should never underestimate the difference that passion can make when it comes to a memorable tour experience. A love for one’s destination is simply unrivalled.

Bonus: How to incorporate movie and TV fun into your tour offerings

People love movies and the magic that they encompass. No matter where in the world your tour is located, movie locations and filming locations make for a great tour stop or mention. Allow your guests the chance to snap a pic in the iconic spot and feel part of their favorite film or series. Otherwise, depending on your location, what about considering a movie and television theme tour as its own offering? If you’re looking to add some movie extravagance to your website, get in touch with us today.(opens in a new tab) Or if you’d like to get people excited with a movie-themed blog we can help you with that too!(opens in a new tab)

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