5 Secrets Of A Happy Tour Guide For Southeast Asian
Hisashiburiiiiiiiii~~~ It’s Shen!
I’m back to blogging! haha. It’s been ages! How are you? 😀
As some of you may already know that, I have been tour guiding full time since April, after my university graduation.
I can’t believe that I actually guided 5 tours, 25 days in April, and 4 tours, 20 days in May!! The tours I guided were from Philippines, Myanmar and Malaysia, in total more than 150 people, within just 2 months.
What a storm! :p
Thanks to the wonderful trips we had together, I am appointed again by several over sea travel agents as their tour guides for June, July, August, October and December. ^^ Thank you!!
So in this article, I would like to share with you a bit about my tour guide experience, as for the 5 secrets of a happy tour guide for Southeast Asian.
Just my personal opinion and experience, it does not have to apply to you. :p I hope those who are interested in becoming a tour guide, can have a better understanding about this job.
5 Secrets Of A Happy Tour Guide
I suppose most of you have a stereotype about my article title. “Well, Shen is going to tell us that a good tour guide should know a lot of knowledge.”
That is important too of course. But what I want to tell you here is something that we always neglect, something very essential while dealing with human relations, something that make the human connections wonderful in our life.
These, are not only necessary for being a good tour guide, I could safely say that they are also important for building a good relationships with others in life.
1. Know Who You Are Talking To
In the bus,
Do you know who is the person you need to save his face?
Do you know who you should pamper the most during the trip?
Do you know who is the boss, who is the customer, who is the company staff?
If you think tour guide is just a man who introduces travel spots and tell jokes in the bus, then you are wrong! Why? because tour guide is also an important “Host” in the bus – pamper the main guests in the bus. :p
Bus tours usually are divided into two types: Incentive & Regular.
Incentive tour means,
– Company trip, which boss and his staff travel together.
– Dealers trip, which the wholesaler organizer and dealers who reached the sales target travel together.
Regular tour means,
– Tour members are recruited separately through travel agent, which means everybody does not know each other.
So the question is, in an incentive tour, who is the main guest you need to pamper?
If you only try to make the boss who organizing the trip happy, then you are probably going to get in trouble. Because they might want you to focus on their dealers.
I tried to pay more attention to the boss who organized the trip once before and he told me that
“hey Shen, don’t care about me. Please pay more attention on our dealers. We want them to be happy.”
Then I realized, the first step to make a good trip is: to understand the relationships between our guests!
We need to consider 4 parties in the bus: Dealers/staff, Boss/Organizer, Tour leader, and Tour guide.
① Company trip (Simple)
The boss is our main guest. He pays everything for his staff. He also hopes we could arrange the meals and the itinerary as cheap as possible. Anything happened, remember to make the boss happy first. 😀
② Dealers trip (Tricky)
The dealers are our main guests! The organizer wishes to pay any price to make their dealers happy. They hope we could tell jokes and sing / dance, to make their dealers laugh, to say something inspirational to motivate their dealers to sell more of their products. They need us to give them times to talk in front of everybody.
They hope we could buy expensive souvenir for each of their dealers. They want us to celebrate their dealers’ birthday during the trip if needed.
OK I will try my best to make the dealers happy. The dealers should be our main guest!
However, look at our tour leader’s face. You will notice actually the organizer is their main guest! Your tour leader is trying hard to make the organizer happy, while the organizer is trying hard to make the dealers happy.
As a tour guide, we need to make everyone happy!
At the same time, we cannot make the dealers happy too much. We need to say good words about the boss and our tour leader’s company, to let the dealers know that the trip’s main effort came from them.
Usually the tour leaders, the boss, the dealers, they are a bit sensitive about each other relationship because they care about the business. They cannot just have fun like friends and family.
There, as a tour guide, our job is to buffer their tension, like a cushion between all parties. 😀 We are the happy “host”. Our job is only one – tell them the best Japan story and make them laugh.
2. Be Able To Call Your Guests’ Names
Nothing is happier than being called your own name.
It is very easy to tell if a tour guide is enjoying his job, or just doing it for money. See if the tour guide can call your name or not.
A good tour guide is not doing his job only for money. He enjoys meeting new people. He enjoys learning new things. He enjoys making friends with you!
I don’t see my guests as a one-time travel partners. Because I know even after we separated at the airport, technology connects us. Especially Southeast Asian tourists. They love to make new friend in Japan!
Just a button, we will be connected on Facebook until we bring our grandson playing chess at a park some where else in the world! (If Facebook does not shut down :p)
I try my best to remember everybody faces and names. I still remember when I called my Myanmar guests’ names correctly, they were surprised, and kept telling the tour leader in Burmese language,
“He is very smart and caring!” 🙂
From the moment you call your guest by their real names, your trip is already half way to success.
However, for Japanese tourists, I heard tour guide is expected to be only doing their job – telling stories. I heard Japanese tourists would ask you not to be too friendly to them. >”<
3. Good At Disclaimer
90% how you tell + 10% what you tell = 100% good trip.
I receive many calls from my tour guide friends saying that their guests are bad, frustrating, they are selfish and stupid…bla bla bla.
But to my ears, before we talk about our guests, let’s take a look at ourselves.
Did you tell your guests that smoking is only allowed at smoking area in Japan?
Did you tell them that many Japanese food are cold?
Did you tell them how long we need to walk to our destination before we get off the bus?
Everything is about how you make the disclaimer.
Usually I try to predict every information our guests need to know one day before, and tell them in the bus before we get off to our itinerary.
I even tell a Japanese adverb at the first day that “猿も木から落ちる” (even the monkey will fall down from the tree, mean nobody is perfect). Everyone makes mistakes, tour guide no exception.
We should be knowledgeable about Japan in general. However, always remember we are also a monkey. Nobody can perfectly know everything about Japan. Tell them that when we cannot answer some questions right away, don’t worry, give me some times and I will research the best answer I could offer.
By making a disclaimer from the beginning, we can gain a better understanding from our guests. But in turn, we need to try our best to fix everything for them. 🙂
Stephen R. Covey – “Inside Out”
I love the theory of “Inside Out” by Stephen R. Covey. Basically he means, we all should improve things from our inner side first, before we blame on the outer factors.
To put it short, ask ourselves
“Did I do anything wrong that caused this trouble? Could I have improved more to prevent this?”
This mindset keep me away from blaming on others. I take every troubles as my own fault. Then I try my best to fix it. 🙂
4. Be A Student In The Bus
You are not a teacher in the bus. You are always a student.
Many tour guides have pride for their job. They think they should know more than their guests in all aspect of knowledge.
But that is wrong!
Our guests obviously are from different backgrounds with their professional knowledge respectively. To be honest, we learn from them more than they learn from us!
In a Malaysia incentive tour, my guests are all construction industry related people. Wherever they go, they observe how the Japanese construction is done. What is the material of the wall? How they made it? What professional machine they used?
OMG I just couldn’t provide them sufficient information they need. But I learned many things from them about the construction, and research the information in Japanese language (this is our strength and the only service we can provide) for them.
In another Myanmar incentive tour, they asked me where is the longest tunnel in Japan and what company made it. Wow, I…..don’t know!!! But don’t worry, I research, and give you the best answer!
Try to make the conversation into an interactive one. They ask you about Japan, you ask them back about Myanmar. By doing this kind of interactive conversation, our guests will also gain a better observation about Japan by comparing with their own countries. And you learn about Myanmar from them. 🙂
5. Loving All Human’s Paradigm
We are all human. No matter where we come from, what we are doing, we are connected by a bond of humanity.
Sometimes you will meet a bad attitude driver. Sometimes the restaurant stuff made mistakes. Sometimes you will meet a complaining guest. Even sometimes you think your tour leader is selfish.
If you open you heart and look into their heart – what they want? You will notice actually everybody is cute. :p (Am I using the right term?)
I had a 80 people jumbo group from Myanmar. Believe me, you have never seen a real big eater like them. No matter how much food we arranged, they want for more!
The food we prepared for them was roughly ¥ 3,500 yen per person. If you live in Japan you know how much food it is. But they are forever hungry!! As a result, they ate up all the restaurants ingredients, including fish, vegetables, meats, edamame, and all alcohol. lol
From the guest’s view, “I want to eat more!!”
From the boss view, “Please give them more and you should pay for it because you didn’t prepare enough for us.”
From the restaurant’s view, “You should have told us earlier so that we could prepare!”
From the tour leader’s view, “Please, Shen, give them more! It’s not enough! They are our VIP customers.”
From the office view, “It’s already ¥ 3,500. It’s out of budget! The food should be enough for a normal Japanese people.”
From the driver’s view, “Please come back to the bus early. I want to go home early.”
See. Aren’t they cute? Just a dinner. But we have 6 different views.
Stephen R. Covey – “Paradigm”
I love the theory of “Paradigm” by Stephen R. Covey.
Paradigm is the world view how someone looks at a certain things, someone’s judgement, stereotype, thought on something, according to Stephen R. Covey.
According to Stephen R. Covey, the first step to sophisticated human being is that, to recognize the paradigm each one has.
7 billion people in the world have 7 billion different paradigms. Everybody has something they desire and that influence how they look at certain things.
In this case, of course tour guide we also have our paradigm.
“This food should be enough! why are you asking for more?”
“Office please pay for more food because it’s your fault!”
“Why these people are so rude? They can’t understand that we are already doing our best?”
…..bla bla bla
It’s okay to have a paradigm. But at this moment of time, if a tour guide also trying to push his paradigm to the dinner, things will get more complicated and unsolved.
What we need to do is, to create a synergy. (Stephen R. Covey)
In other words, we need to come up with a solution that everybody will be happy about it.
What we did for that dinner was,
– office paid for more food, but within the budget.
– tour leader went to buy some other food for the guests,
– I gave some tips money to driver so that they won’t get angry,
– tour leader and I went to buy a ¥ 1,000 beautiful cookies souvenir one for each guest.
This is what a tour guide do everyday. Love all paradigms and try to create a synergy – a happy ending for all parties.
The condition is: you need to love all paradigms.
I met 1 Thailand tour guide in a restaurant in Kyoto. He was shouting at the restaurant manager and staff,
“What the hell are you guys doing? We have 40 people, you just prepared 30 seats!? What the f*ck?! Are you stupid?!”
You know how it turned out? The tour guide got to a wrong restaurant….
He didn’t apologize, just left the restaurant after he found out he was wrong.
We are living in a world that all different kinds of people connected and live together for a better tomorrow.
Tour guide is a job to deal with all different kinds of people, different paradigms. By applying the theory of “Inside Out” and “Create Synergy”, we can be a better tour guide that connects people heart.
Leave me a comment and talk to me. 😀
Some photos of our trip! ^^
Okay! I will talk to you guys again next time. That’s it for my April and May sharing! 😀 See ya!