International Tour Management Institute (ITMI)

The Premier Training Institute for Tour & Travel Professionals Since 1976

7 Traits of Great Tour Guides

Day in the Life, Outreach & Inspiration, Tour Guide Adventures, Tour Guide/Director JobsAaron OggComment
IMG_0451.jpg

Only Tour Guides and Tour Directors truly understand the complexities that make their jobs so challenging and rewarding.

Every day is a new adventure, one that requires flexibility and an expansive set of skills. Mastery of the basics only goes so far. Exceptional Tour Guides and Tour Directors wear numerous hats to ensure everybody has a positive experience. Variety makes this job one of the most fulfilling in the world.

Here are seven of the most important traits of tour guides and tour directors.

Historian: There's much more to telling an engaging story than memorizing dates, names, and places. Understanding relationships between cultures over time and the ability to create modern-day parallels are valuable abilities. Just like in school, the best teachers make their lessons relatable to their students.

Mediator: Most tour groups get along swimmingly, but misunderstandings between guests happen and tempers occasionally flare. A good Tour Guide or Tour Director knows how to diffuse potentially volatile situations, either by creating space or encouraging guests to talk through their issues. Everyone deserves an enjoyable and safe environment.

Comedian/Entertainer: When you lead a tour group, you're always on. That doesn't mean you're expected to keep them rolling in the aisles all the time. Not everyone is a stand-up comic. However, Tour Guides and Tour Directors should always make an effort to lighten the mood during a lull if their guests seem bored or restless.

Weatherperson: Meteorologists are highly trained experts who use many forms of technology to read patterns and make educated predictions. Tour Guides and Tour Directors don't necessarily need to know why it's going to rain, but they do need to have a grasp on what the chances are and how to plan accordingly. Inclement weather is beyond their control. Keeping guests happy is not.

Mechanic: Usually your driver will know what to do or who to call in the event of a motorcoach malfunction or breakdown. However, it always helps to know how to change a tire or replace a windshield wiper. You might be waiting hours for roadside assistance. The more simple fixes you can do yourself, the greater your chances of staying on schedule.

Cheerleader: Some of your guests will bungee jump without hesitation. Others will be deathly afraid of trying sushi. Nudging people out of their comfort zones requires compassion and sensitivity. There are few greater feelings in the world than succeeding and seeing someone come out of his or her shell. Keep in mind there will also be times when you need to rein in the daredevils for their own safety.

Friend: Every person you meet on the road faces his or her own unique stresses and worries. They might be reflected in their mood or attitude during a trip. Should they open up to you about them, you must appreciate the importance of that trust. It is to be cherished and nurtured. You could very well develop some of your strongest friendships by providing an empathetic ear when your guests need one.