How to be a Good Tour Guide
Generally what the people think about a good guide is that a good guide is one who has a PhD in Art History or a family that dates back for seven generations in the area but neither could be further from the truth. If you are reading this, you already have the best quality in a guide: curiosity.
Anyone who is curious about his/her surroundings and likes to learn about new things is said to be a good guide. It’s totally your perspective to look at things because wherever you live can be boring or full of things to explore, everything depends upon the way you see it. Meeting new people is also something which a good guide is curious about. In addition to curiosity below listed three main qualities should be there to be a good local guide.
- A good guide is well organized.
- A good guide is sensitive to the needs of others.
- A good guide has knowledge of the local area.
The guide should be sensitive enough to realize when someone’s feel hurt. A tour guide can be as social, expressive and funny as Robin Williams or as knowledgeable as a professor but neither talent will make for a great experience. Before their own agenda a good guide is one who always tries to think about the needs of the people he/she is hosting.
For example, suppose you are providing a tour to a couple who are in their 70’s and the old lady is with a walking stick and your plan is to walk the couple you are hosting along the boardwalk in Varanasi. All three of you will quickly be tired and frustrated if you try to carry out your planned agenda. It’s better to ask them what they are interested in seeing instead of making and implementing your plans. You could mention to them that there is lot to see in Varanasi and it will be a very long walk, once they have expressed an interest in Varanasi walk tour and that touring by a car would provide them with a great way of getting over there while still being able to see the
holy city of Varanasi from the boardwalk.
In nutshell as is very much clear from the above illustration that a guide must sometimes be quick witted and innovative. Only the above mentioned qualities are not sufficient for being a good guide rather the guide needs to be sensitive to the needs and limitations of his guests and realize when they are tired, hungry, bored or simply unable to do the things they have signed up for.
well prepared and well organized. To deal with unforeseen problems and complications a good guide will have plans, back up plans and contingency back up plans. If a guide will be organized then as a guide he won’t forget to meet someone or show up in the wrong place. A good guide has complete knowledge about the opening timings of the museums, parks, restaurants and other attractions. A good guide is also aware of all the local events so that he/she can suggest the guests’ lots of things to do and see.
Lastly but not the least, a good guide is familiar and well informed about the area and all this includes local attractions, things to do, places to go, museums and places to eat. What else a good guide can do is that he should put together a collection of local attraction brochures and keep them with him and if possible get this information to your guests before they arrive. E-mailing to the guests the series of web links that the guide has is also a good idea. Let them to decide and tell you what they are interested in seeing and doing.
For a local guide it is appreciable and also a smart behavior to advertise his interests and specialties. You will likely make a great guide for a boat lover vs. someone who gets seasick even looking at the water if you love to sail. With fresh eyes always look at your hobbies as the opportunities are endless. If you have offered the guests something which interests you and at the same time the tourists is also interested in the same then he will love the opportunity to explore these things with you and as a group you will have a wonderful time together.
Taking your guests to some of your favorite little local places is also something which interests the guests. As a local, you know that obscure walk behind the cemetery or the little place that sells the best plate of ribs. Being one of the highpoints of your guest’s vacation this type of real local information you take for granted will often end up. As far as possible always try to include things unique to your region keeping in mind that your guests have chosen your destination for a holiday above a lot of other places. Ask them why they have done this and then enhance your tour using that information. A good and a healthy tourist industry is one who work continuously in bringing the clean money into the local economy, so be like that and that in turn will indirectly help your life and the lives of the people in your community. When you get that family tour group with the two screaming kids then try to focus on this point!
Lastly, a good guide always make the guests enjoys a lot as well likes meeting new people. It may be possible that all the people you host will not be liked by you but the good people you do meet will be the one you will remember and furthermore, maybe next time you are in their hometown, they can show you around!