It takes a special someone to be a tour guide with five-star qualities. Not only do you need to be a dab hand at the organizational side of things, but you also need to know your stuff and have a certain je ne sais quoi about you.
Here are five essential qualities you need to become a top rated tour guide.
1. Know your travel stuff
Whether it’s knowing the names of people on your tour or citing the date a particular building was constructed, being able to remember crucial information and relay it to your group is a non-negotiable.
What separates five-star tour guides from the rest is how they convey information. They don’t memorize scripts and deliver the exact same speech each day. They tell a story with their words and engage each tour group according to their needs and interests.
2. Be passionate about your tour subject
It’s hard to be a captivating guide if you’re not genuinely passionate about what you do. Leading the same tours, sometimes every single day, is inevitably going to be a little tiresome. Having a passion for your subject will keep it fresh and interesting no matter how many times you lead the same tour.
Your guests will pick up on your interest and enthusiasm, and no doubt, you’ll be a better tour guide for it.
3. Strive make your tour multilingual
Most tours may be held in English around the world, but of course, not all tourists speak English. Your non-English speaking guests will appreciate the effort that you put into learning a third, fourth, or even fifth language. Even if it’s a simple “hello” or “thank you.”
Being able to communicate in different languages will also open up a world of opportunities in employment. Most tour operators can speak English well. Languages will help you stand out and could put you at the top of the list when competing for jobs.
4. Make sure you’re always punctual
There is nothing worse than turning up to a tour before the tour guide. It does not give your guests the best first impression and can set a negative tone that will seep into the rest of the experience.
Five-star tour guides need to be hyper organized. Always arrive well ahead of the scheduled meeting time. Orientate guests to the space, make sure they are comfortable (and know where the washrooms are), and readily engage in chit chat as appropriate.
Your job is to ensure everything runs smoothly from beginning to end. You want guests to have no doubt that this was the tour for them and their experience starts the moment they see you to the moment they wave goodbye, including outside the official timeframe of the tour.
5. Stay tour business-minded
A big part of being a successful tour operator is being able to upsell and convince your guests to part with a little more of their money without feeling ripped off.
There is an art to being able to sell additional products and services without being pushy. This is something that a five-star tour guide can master. You’re offering clients items of interest after getting to know them over the course of your tour. This is a great way to add value to your guest’s overall experience, and not just a method to immediately increase sales. Additionally, if a guest wants dinner recommendations once the tour is over, a quality guide will offer free advice and input.
A top tour guide knows the lifetime value of a returning customer.
If you are interested in learning more about how to get those 5-star ratings, check out this great post by Nikki Padilla Rivera on How to Get a 5-Star Review Every Time