Travellers always have amazing stories and memories about their trips. Those stories are not just about incredible destinations. It’s about their tour guides too—witty, smart guides who helped them enjoy and understand the true essence of their destinations.
Knowledgeable tour guides are an essential part of travellers’ experience as they walk them through incredible destinations and help them create beautiful memories. It is these fascinating experiences that make them leave raving reviews for your tour and recommend it to their friends.
As the cliche goes, tour guides are the face of your tours. That’s why it’s important to have great tour guides for your company. If you are on a hiring spree in the run-up to the peak season, here are a few tips and tricks to help you hire and train new tour guides.
Tips for Hiring a Tour Guide
Hiring new staff for any business is challenging. It is no different in the travel industry. You need to begin the hiring process well before the season starts and invest ample time picking the best tour guides.
Before you start searching for a new team member, let’s dive into what makes an ideal tour guide?
Skills of a Great Tour Guide
Everyone has unique business needs. Depending on what is most important to your tour or activities, the skill requirements of a guide vary. For some, historical knowledge is a must; for others, it might be technical proficiency.
Besides expertise specific to your tours, there are a few skills that every tour guide must have. We know that the job is more than simply sharing the facts. He or she should have particular skills to manage, engage, and entertain a group of people from all walks of life.
Charismatic storyteller: It’s a given! Grabbing the attention of a group is no easy feat. Excellent storytelling skill is a must-have to connect and build rapport with guests. An enthusiastic, optimistic, charming storyteller keeps guests engaged, and they bring life to tours. Interesting conversations with guests, answering their questions, and providing valuable information with enthusiasm—everything adds up to make a tour memorable and enjoyable.
Empathy: The most important quality you should seek in a tour guide is empathy. The guest list comprises people from different cultures, nationalities, and people with special needs. Someone with empathy and sensitivity will be able to understand and relate to the crowd.
Industry expertise and historical knowledge: Tour guides should know the tour area—facts, local customs, and history. Knowledgeable guides can answer any number of questions from guests. If the guide is from the local community, he or she will have personal stories to share with the guests, which makes it exciting and engaging for tourists.
Willingness to learn and adapt: Guides should be willing to listen to feedback from guests and make changes accordingly. A guide who learns from every tour he leads will keep enhancing the touring experience for guests and maintain the credibility of your brand.
Customer service experience: Although this is not a deal-breaker, it’s an excellent addition to their resume. Someone who has experience in customer service understands the nitty-gritty of managing guests.
Finding someone with all the skills may not be a goal that can be achieved. However, you should dig deeper into the candidate’s skills and values. Be prepared with a set of questions, including situational questions. Remember that someone who cares about the guest experience should be your next team member.
Now you know what you are looking for, it’s time to get the tour guide job post ready!
How To Write a Tour Guide Job Description
It is no brainer that duties and responsibilities are essential in a job description. But, do not limit your description to just that. Add interesting details about your tours that can attract and excite potential candidates.
Keep these points in mind when you prepare the job description:
🔖Accurately explain the duties, required skills, and expected results
🔖Mention required years of experience
🔖If you have a preference for completed certificates, add the details
🔖Give an impressive description of the company
🔖Much better, include photos or videos of your company
🔖Explain the application process
Even if the job is seasonal, it’s good to keep the job details on your website throughout the year so that interested people can leave their contact information. So, when the hiring season begins, you already have a list of interested candidates.
Also, consider creating a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for potential candidates; it might help you get quality candidates in the hiring process.
Where to Find Tour Guides
Finding the right talent is one of the biggest challenges the tourism industry faces post-pandemic. Explore all the avenues where you can advertise your openings.
📌 Your website is the first place to post the job opening.
📌Share the job post on your social media accounts. Your followers may refer it to someone they know.
📌Let your friends, peers in the industry, and current staff know that you are looking for a tour guide.
📌Post the tour guide job industry job boards on job websites such as Indeed and Workopolis.
📌Share the job post in social media groups/forums for tour operators. They may come up with recommendations or give you leads.
Tips on How to Train a Tour Guide
Once you pick your new guide, the next step is to train them to be in sync with your business values and target audience.
Make them Familiar with the Tour
You may have already given the candidates an idea about your tours and their duties during the interview. Now is the time to elaborate on the ins and outs of the job. Begin with giving them a first-hand experience as a guest. Let them know your expectations about the tour and guest experience. Does your tour have a brochure or booklet? Provide them with all the information that helps them understand your tours.
Shadow Other Guides
Allow them to join the tour led by other guides. At the end of the trip, answer any questions they have. Also, encourage them to give feedback. Let them interact with fellow guides and learn from their experience. They will have their own tips and tricks to share with the newcomer.
Provide them Resources
Create a resource package for onboarding. The internet is a treasure trove of resources for guide training. Find workshops, articles, and tools ideal for training guides and tour businesses. This is a great place to start: Be a Better Guide Resources.
Encourage your new hires to use free tour guide training available online such as Guest Focus / Be a Better Guide. Another great resource is TripSchool, which provides customized guide training for companies.
Supervise their First Tour
Be a guest on their first tour and give them feedback on their performance. Remember, every tour guide has unique storytelling skills, and they may have their style.
As long as it aligns with your company’s values and identity, you should allow them to pursue it. Encourage guides to be innovative in making each tour distinct from the previous ones.
The uncertainty that the pandemic created has made hiring more challenging for the travel industry. There is no easy way to do this. Having a hiring plan in place will be a great start. And begin your hiring process well ahead of the season. Besides online job postings, rely on your industry networks and other groups to help you with your search.
As the season begins, it is also important to avoid guides burnout and ensure that they are not exhausted. Some of the guides may not be full-time guides. They may have other jobs too. Do not forget to have team dinners or offer bonuses to keep them motivated. Check-in with them regularly. You don’t need an exhausted face and voice to greet your guests.