When booking a tour with a reputable company, we assume that we’ll be assigned an excellent tour guide – a guide we’ll all love to death by the end of the trip. And there are many such guides – guides who are so fabulous you’d love to take them home with you. But have we really thought through what makes for a good guide – what we expect of a guide? And what are the personal qualities we want in a guide? Here are my expectations:

  • That our guide will HAVE A WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE about the areas the group is visiting – history customs, culture. In short, someone who is well-educated.
  • The ABILITY TO SPEAK IN PUBLIC comfortably and, particularly with American groups, to SPEAK ENGLISH WELL. Of course, many professional guides are proficient in several languages, which can be a great benefit in a place like Europe where one is often traveling from one country to another.
  • That he/she will be AWARE OF SAFETY ISSUES – reminding the group to leave valuables checked at the hotel, dress conservatively (regardless of how the locals are dressed) and not to go off by themselves, but rather with a “buddy.” When walking and crossing streets, it’s important to have someone leading and some else named to bring up the rear.
  • To remind the group each day when MEAL TIMES will be the following day so they can plan accordingly. (In many countries meals are served quite a bit later than here at home). This can be important to any tour memebers who may be diabetic or have diet restrictions and may need to bring along a snack.
  • Will GET TO KNOW THEIR AUDIENCE (or learn about them fast) so as not offend tour members with some comment that might be amiss.
  • DRESSES APPROPRIATELY, raking into account their audience, the weather, local customs and other pertinent factors.
  • Will wear a NAME TAG so tour members can always locate him/her by name.
  • Have a FEEL OR SIXTH SENSE for the group’s energy level and ongoing interest in any one subject so as not to “lose” people who get bored and may wander off or may start talking with someone while the guide is speaking.
  • Not give the impression that he/she is IN IT FOR THE TIPS. Actually, your group leader and your pre-tour literature should have indicated wherein guide tips are already included in the tour price or wherein the tour participants are expected to tip and the suggested amount.
  • Have the ABILITY TO FOLLOW THE DAY’S TIME SCHEDULE – not let one or two tour members monopolize his/her time with endless questions or chit chat in which others in the group may have no interest.
  • Will NOT TAKE CELL-PHONE INTERRUPTION CALLS. Of course, sometimes the guide’s office may need to get in touch. But lately we’ve been hearing complaints about guides being frequently interrupted with personal non-urgent calls – always irritating to the tour participants.
  • To NOT PLAY PREFERENCES. It’s often a temptation for the guide to pay more attention to any young, beautiful members or members who constantly ask good questions. Guides should attempt to follow the “Equal Time and Attention” rule with all tour embers.
  • When on a motorcoach, the guide should always POINT OUT THE COACH NUMBER before getting out, so a tour member who may wander and get lost might find the way back to the coach. When 50 or more coaches are parked in a lot, it may be difficult for a tour member to locate or recognize the coach or driver.

The above are just my expectations after many, many years of tour escorting and observation of the guides in many countries. If readers have any other expectations. please let me know.

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