What do charisma, charm and storytelling skills have to do with being a good tour guide? As it turns out — a lot.
As you figure what to include and how to write a tour guide script, know that you are pivotal to the guest experience.
Picture this: a traveler arrives at a destination full of curiosity and excitement, excited to immerse themselves in a new culture. And while tour guests might be ready to explore, they don’t know where to start and are leaning on you to show them the way.
With activities, sights and scenery to explore, there’s so much to discover. Plus, it’s exciting to be in a brand new place for the first time — an experience, made better with a tour guide.
What is a tour guide script?
Before your tour begins, you’ll want to share a little preamble with travelers. Creating a tour guide commentary gives guests a sense of what to expect from a tour. In this case, you might start with:
- Introducing who you are
- Confirming the tour type and where you’ll be heading
- Noting washroom locations
- Mentioning the number of stops along the route
An intro will give guests an idea of when to pay attention. Varying your pace and taking a pause can make your guest’s ears perk up. And, the best part? They aren’t expecting you to be speaking constantly.
In fact, guests may even appreciate a bit of silence so they’re able to process their own thoughts while on tour.
Tour guide script opening remarks
Start with something funny that acts as an icebreaker. Your witty banter could relate to the area, the weather or how this happens to be your first time leading this tour (and where you silently plead with them to go easy on you).
Cue the awkward chuckles and mild concern, after which you showcase your enthusiasm and competence. From here your goal should be to figure out how you can immerse your guest in the story.
In your tour guide safety script, this is one of the first segments where guests’ eyes will glaze over. Don’t let this happen! Make safety entertaining with some witty banter and overly exuberant demonstrations or stories of what happens when guests fail to pay attention.
You’re likely to have a range of personality types amongst your tour guests. So, aim to get everyone on the same page with some humour.
How to provide tour commentary (step-by-step)
Any tour should start with opening remarks about what guests can look forward to. Earn guest’s attention by structuring your tour commentary in a way that puts their interests first.
Keen to deliver a captivating tour? Start by following these guidelines:
1. Address important topics
Guests want to head into a tour feeling confident that a guide will deliver a memorable experience. With your approach, aim to be both informative and engaging with your guests from the get-go.
2. Bookend points of interest
Lead with the most commonly asked questions and topics that are featured in your tour listing. Consider mentioning whether food will be available and where guests can find washroom locations along the tour route.
You’ll also want to address anything that isn’t concrete, like whether they’ll have time to explore and photograph a famous landmark. Just like with GPS in your car, it’s much easier to know where to turn if you know the route plan.
3. Address any questions
After your pre-amble confirms the tour type, make space to connect conversationally with your guests. You can ask guests where they are from, the reason for this vacation and try to find out what people are most looking forward to seeing.
Ask if anyone has questions about the tour, another tour booking or a pickup at a specific time. And while it may not impact your tour, guests like to be considered.
As a bonus, this minimizes potential disruptions halfway and provides good tour commentary. In addition, if there happens to be transportation for the bulk of the group, ensure you instill the importance of time management.
4. Showcase your enthusiasm
Charm and inspire guests before the tour kicks off, with your excitement for what’s to come. And while this may not be your first time providing this tour, trust that they will feed off your energy and excitement.
Picture yourself taking a moment to take in sweeping views or savour a tasty treat while on a food tour. These moments of acknowledgement let your guests know that they can carve out a few moments too.
5. Leave guests feeling inspired
You may already be a charismatic tour guide. Perhaps you’re delighting travelers with your wild and wondrous stories. But there’s always room for adding in a bit of variety into your daily routine and a fresh perspective for how you deliver guided tours. When guests wrap up a tour, your goal is for them to feel like they learned a little and had a lot of fun.
10 characteristics guests want in a tour guide
We’re all human and appreciate when people treat us with kindness and respect. So, when it comes to tactics for tour guide commentary, here are a handful of traits that guests look for in a tour guide:
1. A sense of humour
To deliver a compelling story, you may also have to be a funny tour guide. Sometimes, the world can throw curveballs and we all appreciate a reason to laugh.
You may find that funny, light-hearted stories will jive with almost any crowd. Keen to inject some humour into your script? Just ensure it’s relevant to your audience and relatable.
Remember to keep your audience in mind. Humour works best when it’s done sparingly. Jokes used for millennial backpackers might not work on retired cruise ship passengers.
Pave the way for connecting with your guests by being kind enough to initiate conversation and listen to what they have to share.
Some travelers appreciate being asked what they’re hoping to get out of their experience and how far they’ve traveled to join in on your tour. Looking after small details and paying attention is a thoughtful trait that guests appreciate.
3. A guide who’s good with kids
Little ones have feelings and thoughts during their travels. After all, the whole world is new for them.
While it can be challenging to structure a tour for all ages, if you aim to be inclusive, you’re destined to win minds and hearts. Look into opportunities to highlight kid-specific topics and vantage points. Aim to schedule some pit stops along the route to keep everyone comfortable and happy.
Have you ever heard of the golden rule? It may seem silly, but by treating others how you would like to be treated, you help set the tone for how people in your group will interact.
Plus, when you get to know people personally, this helps to heighten their experience. After all, when guests book a tour they hope to be treated well. Help guests feel more comfortable and consider what different travelers might find interesting while on tour.
5. Informative storyteller
If you’ve been living in a region for some time, you probably have a wealth of knowledge to share. Guests expect that you’ll be well-informed and willing to share your local knowledge. Let’s say you’re looking at creative ways for how to train a tour guide, it’s key to bring your local knowledge and storytelling chops to the table.
6. Organized and punctual
Starting a tour on time is essential for every guest who made a point to be punctual and ready for things to start. Sure, mishaps happen and people find themselves in the wrong location. But as a general rule, you want to reward the guests who are prepared, by starting your tours on time.
Try sticking to time limits set for exploring an area and visiting different points of interest. In addition, guests hoping to make the most out of their trip will appreciate a tour that starts and ends right on time.
When guests book a tour, they put their faith in you to be direct and honest. Deliver on the promise and try to keep things on track with what your tour is supposed to include. Sometimes, it’s possible to get your facts wrong or not know the answer.
Ask if your guests have read up on the area and whether they have the answer. It’s not a bad idea to have a few key facts in your back pocket, so you do have the answers most of the time.
As a tour guide, you’ll potentially come across bad weather, detours or chaos from last minutechanges. Being adaptable is all a part of the role. This is where stories can keep your guests entertained if things go array.
The role of a tour guide is not without its challenges. You may have guests joining a tour with no minimal idea of what to expect, only having booked your tour because it was suggested to them. Keep things light and aim to be helpful for all travelers. This is where your uncanny ability to shift multiple hats is what makes you so good at your job.
Sometimes, leading a tour may test your patience. You’ll find that respect can go pretty far, even if you don’t speak the same language. You may have to contend with late guests, irritated travelers and a wide array of personalities, but it doesn’t mean you can’t deliver an amazing tour for all.
Tour guests may not know or understand all of the expected cultural norms. Your role is to give travelers the benefit of the doubt, instead providing them with the opportunity to learn something new. And always keep your cool and remain respectful with tour guests.
Guests book tours with guides for a curated, hands-on and personalized experience. So, if they choose to book a tour with you, aim to dazzle them with your wealth of knowledge and personality.
Scan any negative online review and you’ll note descriptions like “cold, indifferent, boring or selfish” amongst the bad reviews. If travelers were looking for a generic experience, they could base a tour off a blog or seek out something on an audio walking tour. Make sure your personal touch is present throughout the tour.
Become a confident public speaker
If you find yourself getting nervous about speaking in front of a group of people, you’re not alone. We all worry about fumbling words or forgetting the material, but you know what’s awesome? Most people won’t know you’ve made a mistake unless you broadcast your error.
That’s part of the beauty in guiding. You can ad-lib, mix up the order and renege on your original script to make it perfect for your current tour group. Imagine guests reading reviews and coming to expect what you’re going to say next; now why would they bother booking a predictable tour?
Helpful things tips for your tour guide script:
- Focus on your guests: While it may be you doing the talking, your guests will be giving a lot of feedback with non-verbal cues. Aim to say just enough to keep them engaged and then move on.
- Forget the rules: focusing on them will only distract you. Make eye contact. Be animated with hands. Get to the point. Speak slowly. These will come naturally when you are more comfortable with public speaking. Take your time and enjoy th company of your guests.
- Invest in the story: Before the tour, pay close attention to your thoughts. Does the word can’t make a frequent appearance? If yes, it is time to change up your inner monologue. To be a better storyteller, you have to tell yourself you can. It seems like a cheesy exercise, but self-confidence makes a world of a difference.
- Create a set list: Have a few topics you know you’ll want to touch on throughout the tour to help remind you of your tour guide script.
- Take notes: You will get better with practice, but only if you learn from each attempt. Observe the audience’s reactions and write them down afterwards (not during — that would be strange). Next time, change your story up and repeat. Keep doing this until you know what details to emphasize more and what parts to leave out.
Use your tour guide script to be storyteller
As a tour guide you’re able to inform and entertain at the same time. Delivering facts while on tour doesn’t have to be a lecture. You can create a tour guide script that’s conversational and invites your guests into the experience.
Telling stories is a common way we communicate with each other. Over coffee with a friend, stories of weekend adventures are shared. At family dinners, your father brings up stories of your childhood. Even with the cashier, you may tell the story of why you forgot your reusable bags again.
You may find that you’re a natural when it comes to telling stories, and part of the reason could be that we’re hardwired to listen to them. Your past experiences, and the resulting stories, can contribute to the qualities of a good tour guide, helping you to create an incredible connection with your guests.
Whenever we listen to someone sharing a story, a large portion of our brain gets to work. Storytelling can engage three regions of the cortex: the motor, sensory and frontal. So why is storytelling important for tour guides? Want to figure out how to use storytelling to your advantage?
In storytelling, try embracing the moment and not taking yourself too seriously. So throw a little of yourself in the content — even if the story isn’t about you. The narrator is part of the story as much as the characters are.
How to make good commentary in tour guiding
There are two types of stories to tell on tour:
- Fun, wacky or exciting stories about a place. Told at the location of the site — either before or after listing relevant facts
- And personal stories. Best reserved for the in-transit, awkward moments of silence
For any location, there’s bound to be a large selection of stories to use on tour. But how do you choose the right ones?
It is best to base your selection around topics you care about — whether this happens to be architecture, food or history. Because when you are passionate about a topic, you will be more enthusiastic in your storytelling. And if you are excited to tell it, your listeners will be excited to hear it.
For your story collection, make a list of your own experiences. Some might be funny — even if they weren’t at the time. And some might be shocking — like you still can’t believe it happened to you. Out of all your stories, make sure they are appropriate and relate to the tour in some way.
Closing tour guide script
While you’re wrapping up the tour, you’ll want to close the experience for your guests.
Mention how you value guest feedback a few times throughout the tour. As an example of what to include in your tour commentary, make a point to share a point of interest that guests might not be able to find on their own.
Your closing tour guide commentary is also a great time to suggest other places travelers should consider, including restaurant recommendations and other tourist favourites.
And instead of telling guests that they should leave a 5-star review, which can seem disingenuous, encourage your visitors to highlight what makes this particular experience worth booking with an online review.
So, how can you become a better storyteller then?
Let’s go over important elements in crafting your story:
A story needs a character for the audience to cheer for. One they can relate to. Or one they will remember.
To create suspense, the main character needs a goal. The audience will listen in anticipation to find out whether the character succeeds.
3. Clear Incident
An obstacle must get in the character’s way. This makes it all the more interesting. Can they overcome it?
4. Harness emotion
You want the audience to feel what your characters are feeling. Empathy helps to connect the audience with your characters.
5. Add twists and turns
Unpredictable stories make the best ones. To keep the audience on their toes, throw unexpected twists and turns into the mix.
6. End with a punchline
Every story has a resolution, where typically the hero saves the day. No matter what type of story you share, aim to wrap up in a cheerful way — ending with a joke.
On your next tour, give storytelling a try. You might be surprised by your natural storytelling abilities and have a lot of fun while you’re at it.
Right from the beginning, invite guests into the storytelling experience of your tour.
You don’t have to be the only one telling stories. Open up the floor and ask the audience questions. One story has a way of breathing other stories into life.
By giving your audience time to share, you might quickly come up with another. Also, the tour will have a more conversational tone, making everyone, including yourself, more relaxed. As a result, they’ll be more inclined to enjoy the tour and provide you with good, honest feedback.