Developing Your Tour Guiding Skills

What natural skills do you need to be a good tour guide? No matter how much training you get, and no matter how much experience you have, you will only be a successful tour guide, if you have specific natural skills and talents.

When speaking to former tour guides and tour directors who are in charge of hiring new guides, they consider the most important factor above all others, to be the ability to get on well with people. One tour manager pointed out:

“You can’t do this job if you don’t like people. You have to love and care about people, enjoy their company, and get on with everyone. That is the nature of the job.”

People skills are at the fore of the touring industry as you will be working with all kinds of people every day. The tours eventually get mundane and can become boring if you visit the same museum over and over again, but it is the people who change and make it interesting, and in turn you have to show them that you are just as interested as they are by the sights and attractions that you are showing them. Remember this is probably the first time, they have ever seen these attractions, so your job is to be excited with them, and make them feel comfortable.


We will start with the basics, explaining how the industry works, then moves into the secrets of conducting a successful tour such as how to speak in public, how to lead large groups and how to ask for tips at the end. It also gives tips and tricks for applying for jobs and starting your own tours anywhere in the world. You are cordially invited to click, follow up by taking necessary actions in order to be successful.

Here are some of the most important skills that you need to have and develop if you want to become a top tour guide. To your continued success and best of luck May all your dreams come true as from today.

Excellent Public Speaking and Narration Skills

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You will generally be speaking in front of a huge group of people on most of the tours you lead. Groups can have anywhere from 10 to 60 people, so you have to understand the basic principles of public speaking. It is a great idea to do a Toastmaster’s course or public speaking course so that you get more comfortable with addressing people in a relaxing and engaging way.

 You should learn how to speak clearly,
 how to project your voice,
 how to talk calmly and slowly so that people can understand you, and also
 learn how to control your breathing so that you don’t get tired.

Narration falls into this category somewhat, because it has to do with speaking to your group, but narration is far more than just public speaking. It is knowing how to relate a story to someone. Story telling is one of the key elements of guiding tours, especially in historically significant towns or areas where lots of interesting events have taken place. Narration is all about being enthusiastic, capturing your audience’s attention and allowing the tourists to feel as though they are part of the story.

One of tour guides explains that it can be a challenge when you first have to do the commentary on tours:

“It is nerve-wracking and scary to stand up in front of all those people and speak. It does get easier though and eventually you learn to improvise and add in a few of your own stories and extra bits of info you come across. You are just talking and if you think about the commentary as though you are just speaking to a group of your friends, it makes you relax and you gain confidence.”

One important part of narrating to people is to not overwhelm them with facts and figures. Dates are important to know, but it is not interesting for people to listen to lists of dates. Rather make it more interesting by formulating a story around it. Cherie Anderson explains that tour guides should find stories around the sights or areas that they are showing. It doesn’t have to be long, just a line or two, but something that will capture people’s attention and imagination. She says that, for example, instead of listing dates that certain structures were built, you could rather tie in the building of a monument with other things that happened in history such as the ending of a war perhaps.

Another tour guide, Adam Edwards, working in California stresses the importance of throwing in some fascinating facts and additional information to your narration.

“If someone asks me, “Is that the accelerator there?” I don’t simply say yes and leave it at that. I throw in some extras, for example, I say, ‘Well, that it just a part of it. The actual beam is roughly 25 feet underground. But to power the beam we use 240 klystrons. See those machines over there with the red cylinders? They are located above the beam in this shed which 2 miles long and actually the longest building in the world. In fact it is around 10 feet longer than the Hong Kong airport terminal! Any fascinating fact is great to share and gives visitors that wow factor, which guides enjoy as well.”

Excellent Problem Solving Skills

Just like any job, problems tend to arise, but when you are on a tour with a group of people to look after, the problems can sometimes be quite big. Problems could range from tour buses breaking down and leaving the group stranded to one of the passengers getting ill and needing to get rushed to the hospital. Problems can also be small ones, like a passenger complaining that they are too hot, or some members of the group arguing. You have to be a good problem solver if you hope to be a good tour guide, and know how to deal with anything that comes your way quickly and effortlessly. Companies have to know that they can trust whoever they hire to handle any situation efficiently and effectively.

Good Language Skills

Being good at languages is another great skill that tour guides should have. While you are not required to speak another language at many companies, it is something that is becoming more and more popular nowadays, as international tours are increasing in Indonesia and around the world.

Since you must be able to effectively communicate with English speaking clients, you should seriously learn these Bahasa Inggris Pariwisata lessons every day.

If you can speak a second language you will stand a better chance of being hired, and if you speak more languages, then that is even better. Foreign languages can be taken as online courses or you can often attend night classes to learn another language. With a foreign language you will not only be qualified to lead international tour groups around the world, but you can also travel with an English speaking group to that particular country as you can communicate with the locals and make the travel experience that much easier and more enjoyable for the group. Even if you can only speak a little of the language, this is enough for some tour companies, so mention this in your job applications.

Great Organizational and Leadership Skills

Being organized is a skill that many people neglect to mention when you want to become a tour guide. Developing this skill is one that will make your job easier and that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your career. Tour companies and escort agencies prefer to hire people who demonstrate excellent organizational skills, as it makes their lives easier. It eliminates problems on the tour, it saves them time and money, and it reduces risk. Any previous leadership positions or organizational roles you have had should be mentioned in your resume.

“You must be in control and completely organized at all times. You are organizing a group of people, chatting with them, informing them about various places, partying with them, and sometimes even counseling them. You must be a leader.”

Promoting Your Skills

Now that we have discussed the various skills that you need to possess to be a good tour guide, we can start looking in detail about how to promote these skills to potential employers.

It is one thing to have special skills, or to work at acquiring these skills, but if your potential employer doesn’t know that you can offer them, you will find it much harder to get a tour guide job. Similarly, if you already have a tour guide job and your employer doesn’t know that you have learnt new skills through night courses or extra training programs, this can be to your disadvantage.

Having additional skills will give you an edge as a tour guide, and can possibly lead to better pay, either with the tour company you work for, or with a new company. If you are a freelance land tour guide, having plenty of skills to offer will ensure that you get more tour companies willing to hire you, and there will be more tour groups interested in your services. For example, if you can speak German and Spanish, you will get more work, as opposed to someone who just speaks German. Promoting your different languages, any sports that you are talented at, experience with activities such as rock climbing or horse riding, and other abilities that you have can only benefit you.

How to Learn New Skills

If you are hoping to get into the tour guide industry, don’t stop at your general tour guide training. Sign up for some additional courses or find training programs in your area. You can also sign up for online courses to learn a new language, for instance.

What Skills Can You Learn?

New Languages – The more languages you can speak, the better!

Sign Language – Being able to sign is something that not many tour guides can offer, and this can be an important niche market to target.

Sporting Activities – Cycling, Hiking, Horse Riding, Scuba Diving, Zip Lining, River Rafting, Paragliding, Abseiling, Rock Climbing and many other sports and activities will give you an edge, and lead you to partake in exciting adventure tours. You need experience to land these jobs, so take your favorite activity and get as much practice as you can. There are also training courses and instructor courses offered at various tour companies.

Here are some examples of courses you can take to give you an extra edge as a land tour guide:

New Languages

The Language Training Center based in Indianapolis has been offering translation, interpreting, language and cross cultural training for over 15 years with language services provided at their headquarters, at your work, at your home, over the internet, or via phone. Cactus Language Training has a wide array of language studies available, including courses abroad and evening courses.

Sign Language
Multilingual Books provides a comprehensive list of colleges that offer sign language and interpreter training by State.

Sporting Activities

Cycle Active offers 1 day cycling training courses with certified instructors to give you developmental, emergency, and leadership skills. There are also 2 day courses with 1 day of assessment in the TCL (Trail Cycle Leader and the MBL (Mountain Bike Leader) course, as well as additional courses which include the following:

Expedition Module – 2 days of training with 2 nights and 3 days of assessment, which allows you to lead groups on self sufficient, multi day trips.

Night Riding Module – 7 hours of training with 50% practical in the dark, and 3 hours of assessment 100% in the dark.

Winter Conditions Module – 2 days of training (1 practical and 1 in the classroom) with 1 day of assessment.

Katabatic Adventures provides training for white water river rafting guides from highly experienced instructors whose certifications include Swift water Rescue Technician (SRT) from Rescue 3 International, California. The courses include basic, advanced and guide over a 5 to 10 day period and cover the following:

o Introduction to white water
o Intro to equipments (importance, types, maintenance, usage)
o General safety on river, safety gear, and safety signals
o Basic maneuvers
o Capsize recovery
o Basic rope knots
o Paddle commands, strokes and signals
o Basic CPR and first aid
o Basic rescue techniques
o Types of rivers and their grading
o River scouting and reading (identifying river forms, characteristics, and reactions)
o Basic raft repair
o Basic rescue
o Self rescue and white water swimming grade II
o Advanced paddle commands and signals
o River hazards and safety (strainers, under cuts and obstructions)
o Regulations for competition river running
o Camping etiquettes
o Transportation of equipment
o Giving a safety talk
o Guide paddle steering and commands
o Diseases education (e.g. asthma, heart attack, epilepsy)
o Immediate capsize response
o Introduction to oar rafts
o Basic rescue techniques (river crossing and Z-drag etc)
o Assessing river run, raft lining and portage
o Low and High volume river runs
o Communication techniques (morse code, walkie-talkie and signals)

You can learn about other adventure training programs here

Did You Know? Internships are offered at many land tour companies. You can learn on the job, training is often offered as part of the program, in exchange for your work.

Promoting Your New Skills to Employers

Now that you have taken the time to equip yourself with additional skill sets and have undergone various forms of training, you will need to let employers know about it. Listing it on your resume under a separate heading called “Additional Qualifications and Skills” is a good way to highlight these items. If you already work for a tour company, but want to make your employer aware that you have just completed a course, resubmit your resume with these items in it, or simply provide an addendum page with the course details and level achieved.

Working in the tourism industry requires you to be ambitious, and obtaining additional competencies from turbizcompetency will help to promote your credibility and highlight your dedication to potential employers.

Source: Adapted from JobMonkey Blog


A tour guide conducts tours.

An interpreter not only conducts public and group tours while discussing and commenting on things seen, but also tries to relate their significance to the experience and knowledge of others. In architectural surroundings, an interpreter assists others in experiencing and understanding how they are affected by the spaces visited.

Interpretation is identifying and explaining to the visiting public the meaning that certain artifacts, buildings, landscapes, or sites have within the context of our culture and heritage. Interpretation depends on direct observation of or contact with the subject.

Interpretation develops appreciation. Visitors may come for a variety of reasons, but our goal is to help them develop an understanding of why the buildings on our tours—the Home and Studio, the Robie House, and The Rookery; and the privately owned homes on the walks—are important historically, and how they enrich the community, the state, the nation, and even the world. Most important, however, is the significance of the buildings for the visitors themselves. We try to give visitors the time and opportunity to see the sites for themselves and to develop their own appreciation. We hope they will benefit from a deepened awareness of the people, times, and events associated with these buildings.


Volunteers will provide interesting, enjoyable, accurate, and informative 45 minute tours to Preservation Trust visitors.


 Interpreters can explain at least three unique uses of space at each of the major stops on the interior tour (not that you have to use this on every tour).

 Interpreters can tell at least three accurate family stories during the course of the tour.

 [Robie House] Interpreters can state the importance of the Robie House as a historic site and architectural landmark and relate it to the way guests live today.

 [Home and Studio] Interpreters can discuss how specific elements of the Home and Studio anticipate Wright’s later Prairie designs and how those designs specifically impact the way guests live today.

 [The Rookery] Interpreters can discuss how Wright leveraged personal and business connections to secure a commercial commission and how he unified the building’s public spaces while reinterpreting Root’s original design in an awe-inspiring and organic manner; giving the building a needed boost to compete with more contemporary skyscrapers.

 Interpreters can speak effectively to, and engage, groups of different sizes, ages, and backgrounds.

 Interpreters will complete a set of outline and fact cards for use in delivering a tour and answering commonly-asked questions.

 Interpreters will encourage and model appropriate museum behavior.
Volunteers understand their role in and value to the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust.


 Volunteers will abide by the organization’s Code of Ethics.
 Volunteers will practice outstanding customer service.
 Volunteers will promote membership, programs, and donor and volunteer opportunities in a friendly and low-pressure manner.


The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust has adopted the following customer service statement for the Preservation Trust: Customer Service is a consistent, positive effort put forth by every Preservation Trust volunteer and staff
member to meet the expectations of our external and internal customers. Customer service includes, but is not limited to, the following traits and actions:

Customer Service Traits

 Friendliness
 Efficiency
 Sensitivity
 Expertise
 Courtesy
 Patience
 Flexibility
 Receptiveness
 Promptness
 Enthusiasm
 Gratitude
 Hospitality

Customer Service Actions

 smile
 treat each customer with respect and courtesy
 give each customer personal attention
 listen carefully
 identify customer needs and expectations
 provide accurate information
 respond promptly
 go the extra mile for extraordinary service
 share knowledge and excitement
 express appreciation
 offer products of value
 seek out and confirm information
 foster teamwork

A Satisfied Customer

 has had his or her expectations addressed
 has received personal attention
 has been treated with appreciation and respect
 has his or her understanding and knowledge of Frank Lloyd Wright enhanced
 may serve as an ambassador for the Preservation Trust

External customers are visitors to the Home and Studio and Robie House, public program participants, members, donors, merchandise customers, community, neighbors, and media.

Internal customers are volunteers, staff members, and board members, individually and collectively.

The Preservation Trust is responsible for providing the resources, tools, and training that enable each volunteer to practice excellent customer service. 


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