Working as a Team: Tourist Guides
As a Tourist Guide you might think you are working on your own but in reality, you are part of a team and without the team you couldn’t achieve what you might want to. Preparation is key – you need to know who are in your team and how you can work with them. Sometimes people speak about the Value Chain – in Tour Guiding – this is the chain of people who work together to give value to your customers.
What is a TEAM
Who is in your Team?
- Guests: They are important members of your team. Without them you would not have a tour to guide! You have to find out what their expectations are. Why are they here and what do they want to see?
- Coach Drivers: If you are working with groups of any size, you need transport, unless it is only a walking tour. You can’t get anywhere without your driver. If they decide to slow down or speed up there isn’t much you can do about it. While you are training you are likely to have a very experienced driver who knows exactly when to slow down or speed up and perhaps even stop for you to expand on your story. But once you are qualified you have to communicate and listen to the driver and let them know exactly where you want to go and when you need more time and use their knowledge and experience.
- Tour Operators and Ground Handlers: These are the people who give you work and pay you! They expect value for money and that you deliver exactly what they have advertised. You need to communicate with them prior to the tour to check what they are offering and to discuss with them whether is it possible and realistic. You might need to communicate with them during the tour if unexpected things happen – hotel or meal issues; accidents; delays. You also need to give them feedback after the tour is over. They also need to know you exist – so find out who they are and let them know you are ready and willing to work. They might need updates on what is currently happening in Northern Ireland Tourism. You are on the ground – you can help them.
- Hotels and Restaurants: Communication is key! You are the one who will have to deal with your guests’ requirements: accommodation (if on an extended tour), food allergies and requirements, access needs etc. Let them know as soon as you know – don’t turn up and then tell them you have food allergies in your group that they are not prepared for. Prepare your guests in advance so that they are not disappointed – if it is a set menu – tell them what it is and what is included.
- Visitor Attractions: Guess what – communication is key again! To avoid queues and to comply with any Covid requirements – you might need to check on bookings and timings, tickets and any special rules for tour guiding. Once you meet your group and know for sure your numbers and ages if appropriate then you have to find a moment to call and let them know – a photo stop is often a good opportunity for doing this while your guests are occupied.
- Tourist Guides: Your colleagues might seem to be your competition but they are also your best friends! They know what is going on and you can work together. Do you have a WhatsApp or Facebook Group that can give you updates? This can be in real time – say there is an accident that might hold you up. If you are working on a mass departure e.g., a cruise ship – you need to coordinate to ensure you all offer the same thing but don’t get in one another’s way. Is someone an expert on something you don’t know so much about – a specialized tour or technological opportunities. If you share then others will share with you.
- Tourist Guide Associations: If you are a member of Tour Guides Northern Ireland or Northern Ireland Tourist Guides Association, you will benefit from networking, marketing, training, continuing professional development and more! Have you considered volunteering to help the hard working committees and groups within your association? You will benefit even more if you take part and contribute and work together with your colleagues. It is not up to everyone else! See below what the Scottish Tourist Guides Association are doing for the International Year of Stories.
- Tourism Northern Ireland: As well as the information directly for Tourist Guides, the website can help keep you up to date with what is going on and you can inform other members of your team so that you are all better prepared. See Tourism NI Industry news for updates.
TEAM WORKING SKILLS:
- Communication is two way – and we have a responsibility to give and receive
- Clarity: We often think we are good at interpreting and explaining but we also need to ensure we are fully understood. Don’t make assumptions.
- Courtesy: Showing respect for others opinions and needs – avoiding giving orders – rather working together with others.
- Listening: Guides are usually good at talking but sometimes not so good at listening. Take time to breathe and consider what you are being told and act accordingly. Don’t jump to conclusions.
- Feedback: Being willing to accept and give positive and constructive feedback and learning from mistakes and experience – our own and others.
- Generosity: Being willing to share your own good experiences and helping others – teamwork is reciprocal. Consider volunteering e.g., you may have a particularly good contact with an attraction – could you become a liaison person for colleagues?