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Tour Guide Training: 5 Strategies for Success

Last updated on March 28, 2023
7 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • Your employees are the face of your business.
  • Successfully training employees from the start also helps you retain great workers.

Skill Level

Beginner, Intermediate

As a tour operator, you want to get people talking about your business, and one of the best ways is to employ tour guides that make the experience amazing for your guests. 

Much of this boils down to the qualities that any great tour guide has – local knowledge, a sense of humor, and passion – but the rest is on you! Training your tour guides and employees helps them learn how to meet your company goals and makes them excited to start working with customers.

With seasonal turnover and tour guide shortages, a strong training program starts your guides off on the right foot and will help with retention. Follow these strategies and prepare your guides and employees for anything they might face in their day-to-day jobs.

1. Get Them Acquainted with Your Business

While you’re likely eager for your new tour guide to jump right in, it’s essential to make sure they feel comfortable with their surroundings. Start by giving them an on-site tour to show them everything from the bathrooms to the break room and any other important areas. 

Use this time to introduce them to all the key players at your business, from your front desk staff to other tour guides and anyone else who frequents your locale. 

Pro tip: Consider hiring in groups to save time and create a cohesive orientation experience. Have all your new tour guides start on the same day (leading up to your busy season) so that you can go through the training all at once. Not only will this save you time, but it’ll make your new employees feel more comfortable and foster collaboration.

2. Let Them Play Tourist

Send your new hire out on a tour with one of your more seasoned tour guides. Give them a chance to observe the flow of the tour, get a first glimpse at the tour route, and watch one of their coworkers take guests through the whole experience. 

Not only is this fun for the new hire, but it’s a great introduction to what your business is all about!

Job Shadowing

After this initial look at how one of your tours runs, let the new guide continue job shadowing (with your best tour guide!) until they feel confident to lead a tour alone.  

You should also supervise a few tours to help your guide improve their performance and make sure they’re still a great fit for the job. You know your business best, so taking the time to teach new guides and offer constructive criticism is well worth the effort.

3. Provide Front Desk and Booking Training

Will this employee be checking guests in at the front desk or managing bookings? Make sure to dedicate time to showing them what to say on the phone or how to respond to social media messages, as well as how to manage bookings through FareHarbor.

Have them study your website and take phone calls for a day or so to give them a better understanding of the flow of things. 

Pro tip: Create a phone script that includes some of your most frequently asked questions or an example of a typical conversation. Better yet, have your new hire read the frequently asked questions page on your website so they’re prepared to answer common inquiries. 

4. Create a Resource List

New hires have a lot on their plate, so you should try to make life easier on them whenever possible. Create a resource list for the times when they can’t reach you or need to troubleshoot a situation on their own. 

Yours might include:

  • Your phone number and the front desk number
  • Contact information for other tour guides
  • Business website URL
  • Business website login credentials 
  • The link to the FareHarbor Help Center
  • FareHarbor Dashboard login credentials
  • A map of your tour route(s)
  • Tour scripts/talking points
  • The local numbers for first responders and search and rescue (if the nature of your tours requires this)
  • Lock codes/keys for places like the private bathroom or office front door, equipment storage, etc.
  • Instructions for operating equipment, taking bookings, or answering the phone

5. Encourage Guides to Be Independent

Although you likely have a certain script and route that tour guides must follow, if you really want to give your guests a unique experience, it’s important to let your tour guides showcase their personality and passion for your area.

The tour is what the guide makes it, so encourage them to focus on what gets them excited. Inspire guides to share personal stories like what brought them to the area and what they love about it. These authentic moments are sure to stand out to guests – and they’ll hopefully lead to some 5-star reviews of your business. 

Before you know it, your new tour guides will become seasoned pros. Wondering what to do next? Have them brush up on how to deal with challenging customers on tour.

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