6 tips on how to become a better travel guide
Over the past one year, I have escorted several foreign as well as India travelers to various places in Delhi. While this new line of activity has fetched me good money, it has also helped me reflect on how to become a better travel guide. If you are an aspiring travel professional, then this article should help you. But, there is a word of advice here- this is my experience and only some of it may benefit you. You don’t have to accept what I say on its face value.
1.Read a lot
It amazes me no end when I see so many travel guides hopelessly ill-informed about their subject. These people are there in the business just to make money and not to add value to their customers. Their knowledge base is superficial and these men and women do not know that travelers, these days, want to deep dive in their destinations. If I have to recite what is written in Wikipedia, then my customers will find no value in me. Therefore, my advice to all my colleagues in the industry is to read as much as possible to deliver a unique experience to your travelers.
For example, every time I plan a trip to the haunted palace of Mehrauli or Feroze Shah Kotla, I arm myself with fresh facts so that I always on the top.
2. It is all about experience
Trust me, your client wants to get an out of the world experience from you and not just a 3-hour trip. She wants to go back to her country with pleasant memories about the places she has visited and the sights and sounds she experienced. So, do you have those skills to make her say, ” Oooh….” Don’t worry, if you think you don’t have those skills, you will acquire them with the passage of time. The only thing you require is a passion for learning.
3. Give more, expect less
I know many of you will sneer after reading this item. You will wonder- why to give more and expect less and what does all this mean to travel professionals. In my experience, travelers are unexpecting the unexpected. This means that if you have a trip that will last for 3 hours with your travelers, make that experience so immersive that you overshoot your time. This time slot may spill over to 4 hours or maybe 5 but when it does, your client will take note of it and will thank you from the bottom of her heart. And if she is really grateful, then you may get a generous tip from her too! I have seen this happen many a time with my travelers. And the after effects have been terrific. Not only have I received generous tips, but also Facebook friend add invitations and getting connected on WhatsApp.
It is always nice to ask for feedback from your guest later on if you want to become better travel guide
4. Think before you speak
It is okay to be swayed by emotions while traveling with your customers but not ok to speak drivel. Your travel partners expect you to behave responsibly and speak in a balanced manner. At times, I am tempted to speak irrelevant things while traveling with my clients but then I check myself. No use, I mutter to myself, of speaking flippantly and it is also possible that your words might be misconstrued by your fellow travelers. Please remember that most of your foreign clients will come from alien cultures and they may have difficulty appreciating your words.
5. Stay clear of arguments and fights
I guess this suggestion is more to do with avoiding unpleasant situations than heightening your client’s experiences. Many a time, my lady clients (especially if they are young and come from the Western countries), are subjected to lewd language by onlookers. Sorry to say, but us Indians still look at white females as sex objects. In such situations, I am tempted to go up to the offending guy, hold him by his collar and slap him a couple of times. But does this help? I am afraid not. Rather, it can put your client in a delicate situation. She might feel awkward and think of running from that spot. Would you like it? I am sure you won’t but I am not suggesting that you avoid these situations 100 percent! Rather, turn a blind eye should such things happen and react only if the situation turns potentially harmful. There is no point in arguing or fighting with an idiot who might call out his fellow ruffians. It is his turf, remember. Yes, once out of that spot, please inform the police but only after consulting your client.
6. Show up on time
My last point on becoming a better travel guide and professional is to always show up on time. Remember, your client has paid up in advance and assumes that you too behave professionally i.e arrive on time. Your client may arrive a few minutes late and that is acceptable but you arriving late is a BIG NO! Probably, she has an important meeting just after the trip which she can’t afford to miss. Right? Besides, punctuality is always appreciated across cultures so it is a good idea to turn up on time.
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So let me leave you here with a few thoughts. Point number one, treat your customer as a human being who is entrusting your life for the next 3-hours. She is taking your advice on what to eat and where, which places to visit and so on. Secondly, your guest will become your brand ambassador as well your country’s goodwill envoy once she returns home. Bear these two thoughts in your mind if you indeed want to become a terrific travel guide.