The basics for recognizing a good tourist guide.
Your trip is going well, you’ve got time to relax and have some fun. You’re off to discover other cultures, different people and new places.
Tour Guides are there to make sense of your feelings, to take you by the hand and lead you where you wouldn’t otherwise go. They’re there to tell you stories where you only see stones, to narrate intertwined lives where you see only a name on a plaque, to take you beyond the hill and show you the stunning scenery you would otherwise have missed.
Seeing the most beautiful painting in the world is even more moving once you’ve heard a little about the tormented artist who painted it.
You can walk along the most picturesque little narrow street in the old quarter of town, but learning a little of the lives lived by past inhabitants will bring history back to life.
The perfect tour guide doesn’t exist and how good a tour guide is on any day will depend on their “audience”, the mood that day and a thousand other variables.
Here’s what we think it takes to be a great tour guide.
More than anything else, good tour guides should be passionate about what they do. Those that don’t have that sense of passion convey little or nothing to their listeners, who just end up feeling bored. If the tour guide isn’t passionate about the place you’re visiting, time will start to drag and the group’s interest will gradually wane until no-one’s listening. Put passion into the mix and a tour guide can captivate and delight you with a subject you didn’t even know existed 5 minutes previously.
Good tour guides know how to dose tales of the past, dates, anecdotes and silence to give participants time to enjoy, to observe, to dream…
Great tour guides should definitely have a good sense of humour. They’ll have no trouble captivating their listeners if they throw in a joke, an unexpected word or two, a little spontaneity here and there. They’re free to inject the tour with a little fantasy – that way it won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
Good tour guides should be confident public speakers, with clear and audible voices. Being pompous is not endearing. Good tour guides do not take themselves for teachers.
Good tour guides are duty-bound to be willing and able to answer questions and
cope with the vagaries of a tour. In doing so, they should be aware of the feelings of the whole group and treat each participant fairly. They should never of course let the behaviour of a disrespectful character who’s being disagreeable get out of hand.
- Sense of observation
Good tour guides should know how to observe the group they’re guiding and adapt their tour accordingly. Old people who can’t walk very fast, crying children, travellers who want to take photos of every last thing they see… Include time for technical breaks.
Good tour guides should know their tours and accurately assess the time required. They shouldn’t find themselves overwhelmed by the walking, their commentary, or the breaks, whether they’re planned or not.
- A smile
Last but not least, smiles are so often key (and not only for tour guides!) A smile can add a touch of goodwill and kindness and diffuse most situations.
- Leave us a comment to tell us what would be the ideal tour guide for you.
Who better than tour guides to show you the unmissable, the sites of interest, the unusual venues, etc. It’s more than just a job, it’s a passion and their only goal is to share it with you