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With the ups and downs of tourism, unfortunately, some of us do have quite a bit of time on our hands at the moment. The internet has bombarded us with ways to fulfil and make the most of our time, but often all you want to do is escape the world and sit down with a good book. There’s no need to feel guilty for taking some time out for yourself, especially when you can combine it with some professional development.

As avid book lovers and tourism aficionados, we want to share our list of go-to books for tour operators. Happy reading!

Books for Tour Guides

Despite what the first glance at How to Be a Tour Guide: The Essential Training Manual for Tour Managers & Tour Guides(opens in a new tab) by Nick Manning tells you, this is not just a book for novices. You could be a well-seasoned tour guide who has never quite got your price right, maybe you’ve always struggled to manage large groups, or maybe you just need a little guidance on material research methods. This book really has it all. It covers small details that you may be glossing over, like the headcount; how this action is so much more than making sure you have everyone, it’s about showing you are a professional and instilling trust. The importance behind this small detail, amongst many others such as thinking ahead, keeping an eye out for pickpockets, and having a plan B in case of bad conditions, are all explored in the book.

Joemy Wilson’s Coming Up on Your Left: A Tour Guide’s Guidebook(opens in a new tab) is full of poignant and funny stories about experiences with and as a tour guide. She explores how to keep guests engaged and the importance of adding in a little spontaneity. With suggestions such as improvising when there is something unexpected and exciting on your route, taking care not to ignore something just because it’s not in the script, but instead working it into the tour. The book also highlights how important empathy and kindness are as qualities in a top guide.

One of our favourite range of books to help inspire tour guides is the Trip School Tour Guide(opens in a new tab) Training Manuals. Trip School, the training company and business incubator for tour guides, tour directors, and operators, are industry experts who want to share their tricks of the trade with the rest of the tour guide community. These books are guides, especially for guides! They focus on the trivia, the interesting facts, and the narrative. Learn everything from significant historical events to movies that were filmed in the area. The digestible format of these books makes them easy to read and learn. Whether you’re a new business or seasoned pro, if you’re looking to give your tour that entertaining and surprising edge, get reading!

Books to Help Move Towards Responsible Tourism

How can you get ahead in an area saturated with tour operators? Check your unique selling points! If you can restructure your business to be more sustainable and responsible, you can gain access to a new audience and move ahead of competitors. We are always mentioning sustainable tourism as a growing sector in our industry trends.

Susan Guyette’s Sustainable Cultural Tourism: Small-Scale Solutions(opens in a new tab) provides readers with endless channels and resources for promoting sustainable tourism. From the most basic to the more complex, her case studies give real-world examples that are engaging and inspiring. They reconsider approaches to marketing, visitor feedback, etc. to make room for responsible tourism. A great read to help show you that the change doesn’t need to be as hard as you may think.

Books to Help You Sell More Tours

If you don’t already have Sell More Tours: The Essential Guide to Online Marketing for Day Tour & Activity Operators(opens in a new tab) written by our very own Founder, Matthew Newton, you might be missing a trick. For those struggling to rank on Google, for those that find SEO strategies an uphill struggle, or those who are getting frustrated with the lack of website-generated sales, Sell More Tours has many answers to these problems and more. Not only does the book make complex topics seem straightforward, but it also specifically targets the tour operator market, meaning there’s no need to flick through pages of irrelevant information. Moreso, we implement the principles addressed in the book into our websites so if you like what you’re reading and want to take the next step contact us! Overall this book highlights key changes to bring in those extra sales and raise your business’ visibility.

How to Turn Your Online Lookers into Bookers(opens in a new tab) by brand and digital tourism expert, Chris Torres, is marketed as “The Ultimate Guide for Marketing Your Tour & Activity Business”. The book outlines strategies for those tour operators who have the personality and a great product but struggle with bringing in the sales. This isn’t a book full of general advice written by any old entrepreneur, Chris is an expert in his field and focuses specifically on the tourism industry, as the owner and founder of Tourism Marketing Agency (TMA) as well as the OTA Touriosity(opens in a new tab). He gives practical advice and tips which you can start implementing straight away. From brand strategy to website tips and advice on ad campaigns,  this book will bring inspiration to your sales and marketing process. A book all tour operators should have on their shelf!

Books to Help Improve Your Tours

You may be happy with your website and sales, but are disappointed with the content on your tours. Have you been doing the same routes and commentary for years and are ready for a change? Spicing things up for your guests is easier said than done but, as The Power of Moments(opens in a new tab) by Chip Heath tells us, it’s a key component for success. Chapter 4, “Breaking the Script” explores how surprising people’s experience expectations is key to helping you stand out from the crowd. Make a difference by “introducing a bit of randomness” as they say. One example that they give is how “when loyal customers were on a flight with a funny flight safety announcement, they flew one half-flight more over the next year than did similar customers who hadn’t heard one.” The takeaway? Break the routine and give your guests something they weren’t expecting. It could be in the form of a surprise stop on the tour, a guest appearance from someone relevant to your subject, or entertaining facts brought about through additional research.

Books to Help Navigate Cultural Differences & Gain Trust

Have you ever had to manage a group of guests or guides that clashed due to cultural differences? Or maybe you’ve accidentally offended prospective guests by making a cultural faux-pas? For your marketing, sales, and tour processes, knowing how to navigate and understand the cultural differences in your audience could be the key to helping you stand out from your competitors. If you show you have taken the effort to learn more about your guests’ cultures, you generate trust. Erin Meyer’s The Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, & Get Things Done Across Cultures(opens in a new tab) can not only provide you with inspiration for reaching your target audience but also offer you a new perspective on how to “get things done”. These days we find it hard to think outside of the box and this insightful window into other cultures can help you shake things up.

Books to Remind Us Why We Love Tourism

It’s been a tough year for the tourism industry and we wouldn’t blame you if it has pushed you into falling out of love with the industry. But maybe it isn’t falling out of love, just forgetting why we love it. To end this article on a positive note, we want to share a book that reminds us of all the hilarious and life-changing moments that make being part of the tourism industry so special. We challenge you to read Alec Le Sueur’s  The Hotel on the Roof of the World: Five Years in Tibet(opens in a new tab) without it leaving you with an urge to dive back into the world of tourism. The stories will leave you reminiscing about your own experiences – Le Sueur takes care not to gloss over the less glamorous aspects of the industry.

If this list has caught your eye and you’re looking for like-minded book worms in the tourism industry, the Tourpreneur podcast has started a book club(opens in a new tab). Use it for additional recommendations or to contribute any suggestions you have to help your fellow tour operators.


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