How Tour Guides Can Influence Their Guests

Read about, how tour guides can use the normative approach to influence their guests.

By
Nikki Padilla Rivera
|
July 20, 2021
Nikki Padilla Rivera
July 20, 2021

Every tour guide has their ‘tourist pet-peeves’.

For me (in my city of NYC) it’s tourists who;

  • litter
  • insist on taking up the entire, obviously busy sidewalk to do a five minute photoshoot, and then get annoyed when you try to get around them
  • take the subway during peak commuting hours and take up free seats with their shopping packages…or with their feet…


But as tour guides we actually have the incredible power of being able to influence the way their guests see the world.  I firmly believe that the customer is not always right.  Very often they’re dead wrong.  And just as often, they’re usually happy to change their behavior once taught what is locally acceptable and what is not.

Will each guest listen to your advice and instantly become an ideal traveler (as opposed to the dreaded tourist)?  Of course not.  But the idea is that YOU, the guide, have the power to at least plant the seed.


How exactly can a few words from a tour guide influence behavior?

Sam H Ham’s “Normative Approach to Influencing Behavior” (from his book, Interpretation, Making a Difference on Purpose) shows the thought process that a guest can go through starting with a simple suggestion from a guide.



The Normative Approach to Influencing Behavior

(1) The Guide helps the guests understand.


Point out to guests (in whatever way works best for your personality and guiding style) what behaviors of OTHER people bother the locals.

A great way to do this is to explain why you’re doing B instead of A, for example;

“We’re going to stand across the street to take pictures of the cathedral, because if we take the pictures from the street, it makes it hard for the locals to pass by and right now everyone is heading home from work”

The most important piece here is to not preach to your guests, or worse, shame them.  Doing so can have the effect of stopping the process right here, and not progressing to number 2 due to guests become defensive ,or ignoring you.



(2) Once guests understand, they are then able to appreciate and recognize it on their own.


We want the guides to think; “Well, if this behavior bothers the locals then I certainly won’t do it.”


(3) Appreciation of something can lead to the guests believing in it.


The next step will be for the guests to say; “I can see why it would be frustrating for locals when tourists do this.  It would bother me as well if I lived here.”


(4) The guest’s beliefs now influence their behavior.


The final, and ideal result is for guests to now act on that belief.  So in this example, a guest would be conscious of where they stand to take pictures, making sure they won’t get in a local’s way.


For more details and examples of the Normative Approach, see the full article here.


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Every tour guide has their ‘tourist pet-peeves’.

For me (in my city of NYC) it’s tourists who;

  • litter
  • insist on taking up the entire, obviously busy sidewalk to do a five minute photoshoot, and then get annoyed when you try to get around them
  • take the subway during peak commuting hours and take up free seats with their shopping packages…or with their feet…


But as tour guides we actually have the incredible power of being able to influence the way their guests see the world.  I firmly believe that the customer is not always right.  Very often they’re dead wrong.  And just as often, they’re usually happy to change their behavior once taught what is locally acceptable and what is not.

Will each guest listen to your advice and instantly become an ideal traveler (as opposed to the dreaded tourist)?  Of course not.  But the idea is that YOU, the guide, have the power to at least plant the seed.


How exactly can a few words from a tour guide influence behavior?

Sam H Ham’s “Normative Approach to Influencing Behavior” (from his book, Interpretation, Making a Difference on Purpose) shows the thought process that a guest can go through starting with a simple suggestion from a guide.



The Normative Approach to Influencing Behavior

(1) The Guide helps the guests understand.


Point out to guests (in whatever way works best for your personality and guiding style) what behaviors of OTHER people bother the locals.

A great way to do this is to explain why you’re doing B instead of A, for example;

“We’re going to stand across the street to take pictures of the cathedral, because if we take the pictures from the street, it makes it hard for the locals to pass by and right now everyone is heading home from work”

The most important piece here is to not preach to your guests, or worse, shame them.  Doing so can have the effect of stopping the process right here, and not progressing to number 2 due to guests become defensive ,or ignoring you.



(2) Once guests understand, they are then able to appreciate and recognize it on their own.


We want the guides to think; “Well, if this behavior bothers the locals then I certainly won’t do it.”


(3) Appreciation of something can lead to the guests believing in it.


The next step will be for the guests to say; “I can see why it would be frustrating for locals when tourists do this.  It would bother me as well if I lived here.”


(4) The guest’s beliefs now influence their behavior.


The final, and ideal result is for guests to now act on that belief.  So in this example, a guest would be conscious of where they stand to take pictures, making sure they won’t get in a local’s way.


For more details and examples of the Normative Approach, see the full article here.