WHY USE A TOUR GUIDE?
Put simply, having (the right) tour guide by your side during your trip can enhance your experience when traveling.
A great guide can completely transform a trip, making a destination come alive with historical anecdotes, specialized visits and insider access.
Let’s face it, most of us love to simply “get out and explore” but by doing this, do we really leave with an understanding and sense of place? Yes, to an extent. But what may be missing is the understanding of what a place means for a local. You may not have interacted with a local at all during a vacation. Using a tour guide would likely have enhanced your experience.
We have put together some profound reasons to use a local guide below. But first, let’s start with an equally important question.
Not simply anyone can become a great tourist guide. It is a skill and a skill which should be recognised as one – guides deal with people. People come in all shapes and sizes (mentally speaking)… Yes, guides portrait their knowledge onto their visitors and are passionate about their destinations. However, a guide is more.
A great tourist guides listens, understands, emphasises and works with their guests to get the best out of their time with the guide and within the destination.
A great guide also crisis manages… All the time. Things go wrong (99% beyond the control of a guide) but, the tourist guide is the one the guests looks to for a positive response and a resolve of any problem.
A local guide will be able to give advice beyond the time spent with you guides – for example at Newcastle Tour Company, a huge chunk of our tour guide training program (run via Experience North) is spent on the above points but also on making a guest feel welcomed and special beyond the official relationship with said guide. “Where can we go to eat?” What should we do next?” “Can you recommend a great museum?” and more…
A great guide has a memory like no other – but crucially, knows when to bring out the best facts, information, anecdotes. A great local expert knows how not to be boring! A great guide reads his audience and understands interest levels very quickly (another important factor in our guide training program).
Most importantly, a great local expert and tourist guide needs to be charismatic, approachable, authentic and genuine about what they say, do and show. It is a difficult trait to come by but building rapport with guests is vital for this genuine authenticity to show itself.
A tour guide who shows genuine interest, asks questions, listens intently, and recalls some of those personal details later on, can make a huge positive impact on the tour experience. The changes in our lives post Covid-19 and the new travel trends we follow also emphasis the longing for authentic experiences and a more personal approach.
Of course, simply being a great guide is not good enough but improving tour guide skills really sets a great guide apart from others.
As we read on, we’ll find further. sometimes more subtle, traits that make a great tour guide.
Local guides equals local experts
The first one is simple – a local expert & tour guide has a fountain of knowledge and also knows when to use it!
Guides know all the best haunts in their city and can provide a form of access that enables you to experience a destination like a local. A guide brings you a much more authentic sense of your destination.
Local tourist guides will also know of any special events, places to visit (and to avoid!) as well as be able to give you a true idea of what it means to live in your chosen visited city.
USING A LOCAL TOUR GUIDE MAKES YOU FLEXIBLE TO CHANGE
Awful weather but have a cycling tour booked? Using a local tour guide can make all the difference.
We, at Newcastle Tour Co., had a situation recently where a group of 8 were booked on a cycling tour around the city but the weather was, shall we say, horrid! What did we do? We were flexible, offered indoor activities, enjoyed a chat and coffee (and in this case were lucky enough to still do most of the cycling tour)!
Basically, a local tour guide, with their contact book and local knowledge, are able to be flexible for you, the guest, and will be able to change plans, adjust timings and all of this with no impact to you. And, most important, no hassle. No telephone waiting lines to speak with an attraction – the guide will be able to do all of this for you.
SIMPLY ENHANCE YOUR TRIP
Adding the above traits and skills with the knowledge a local guide has, gives you much more than a local expert by your side. It gives you a true travel companion and a friend for the day (and sometimes for life).
It gives you a person who understands you wishes, who knows your interests, who asks the right questions and, importantly, knows to package this into a genuine story and experience.
It is also important to note that another reason for using a tour guide should be that your local expert understands cultural sensitivities and the dos and don’ts within.
USING A TOUR GUIDE IS HASSLE-FREE
One of the things that may be holding you back from having a great trip is that you have to figure out the small details when traveling around. Using a tour guide is almost like using a travel agent – but, better than a travel agent – that tour guide will be with you during your actual trip!
The questions of here to go, how to get around and what are the etiquette within destination become less daunting. If you use a guide, you don’t have to trouble yourself with these and your guide will.
You also don’t have to worry about itinerary planning, timings or routes. Your tour guide or travel agent incorporating tour guides will do this for you And, best of all, you can customize them as well.
TIME EFFICIENT = COST EFFICIENT
Continuing from the point above, less time spent worrying and creating itineraries means you are not wasting any time. A good guide will structure your itinerary to be time-efficient, probably allowing you to visit more places.
A good guide will also structure your itinerary to be cost-effective and tell you which way is more cost-efficient to travel around, helping you save money.
ENGAGE IN THE DESTINATION
Many guides have a passion for travel. Guides will have an interest where it is you are travelling from. A great guide will make sure they let you get a word in and talk about your place of origin.
This will form the opportunity for the guide to combine their knowledge of the place you are visiting and the place you are from, thus, build comparisons, create a relevant story relating to both places and build a narrative that makes personal sense to the traveller.
AN EYE FOR THE CREATIVE
Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and more… Getting the perfect shot is important to any traveller. Whether it is that selfie with a grand building or iconic statue, a typically local scene, a hidden gem or simply something unique to the destination. The person to find the best locations for all of these will be your personal tour guide.
Not only that but your guide will also know the best places to purchase that perfect souvenir or local speciality.
Since these may be the only things to commemorate your once-in-a-lifetime visit to the region, you want to be sure that you find the best you can fine.
Bonus: If you guide has a great eye for the creative and photography, they will easily spot a great moment to grab your camera and capture the moment with you in the limelight!
MULTILINGUAL TOUR GUIDES
Let’s be honest, when a tour guide delivers a tour in your native tongue, it makes a world of difference.
A tour guide’s ability to speak several languages can also mean that your guide can understand your culture, national humour and has a higher understanding of the happenings in your home country.
This leads nicely back to the point we were making on engaging and comparing the visiting destination with the country or city of origin.
TOUR GUIDES & THE ENVIRONMENT
A good tour guide understands the impact travel makes on our environment. A major factor in using a tour guide or local expert is the opportunity to minimise your footprint whilst travelling.
A great guide will know what are the dos and don’ts within national parks, conservation areas and nature reserves.
A great guide will help you understand the impacts and how you can help. At Newcastle Tour Company we give the opportunity to our guests to add tree planting when booking tours with us. We also emphasise to our guides to help conserve our natural and built heritage (for example Hadrian’s Wall and the requirement to not walk directly on the stones). And speaking of Hadrian’s Wall, the terrain is not always the simplest to navigate and it pays to use a guide in this region simply to get a greater understanding of the heritage and changes in the natural landscape – this is especially interesting for the 1,900 year anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall in 2022.
KNOWLEDGE - ENGAGING KNOWLEDGE
Guides take intensive courses in a variety of topics, including history, art, architecture and cuisine, so they are authorities on their destinations.
While it’s tempting to tell guests to google it, a great tour guide is far more impressive when they can answer anything thrown their way. And they should be able to…in an engaging and fun way.
Agree with our reasons? When next in Newcastle, would you consider using a guide? Take a look at our 5 favourite tour experiences in Newcastle.