Our Top 10 Qualities to an Exceptional Guide
A great tour guide has an in-depth local knowledge of the attraction, its history and importance. They have a passion for their subject and can convey their enthusiasm to the group. Such passion can be contagious and inspiring and have the effect of making the location really come alive. Being able to convey a sense of the overall cultural background is also important, as it can greatly enhance each tour member’s overall understanding of the site as a whole.
A relaxed and friendly approach to their trade is key to an exceptional tour guide. They need to have a certain level of authority, and be able to keep tour members together and focused without coming across as intimidating, patronising or arrogant – not a good look in a tour guide.
A flexible approach is often the difference between a good guide and an exceptional one. Being flexible means being open to serendipity, taking a moment to enjoy spontaneous occasions like a particularly perfect sunset.
A tour needs to be relevant to a broad range of people that may differ in custom, religion, taste and age. A good guide also needs to be aware of any tour members with special needs.
Whether it’s the speed of the narrative or the pace of a walking sojourn, a tour should be neither too fast nor too slow. Like Goldilocks, it should be just right.
Exceptional guides invite questions and interaction from tour members, rather than treating the tour as a one-person show or a ‘be quiet and listen’ school lesson.
Exceptional tour guides share their knowledge in an engaging, illuminating and entertaining way, rather than repeating a list of facts by route.
A certain level of friendly humour is essential in commentary. Equally, an exceptional guide also knows when to be silent and let the environment speak for itself.
Guides should be speak clearly, audibly and with confidence regardless of the language the tour is operated in. They will also understand and speak excellent English. This will ensure communications with suppliers are concise and accurate.
A great guide should be waiting for the guests when they arrive, rather than the other way around. They should also ensure that other tour members arrive and depart on time, and don’t cause delays for the group as a whole.