Compass Sneak Peek

Compass Sneak Peek: What Makes a Great Tour Guide?

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Tour guides can make or break a guest’s experience. Who you choose to run your tours says a lot about your business. Guests don’t get the opportunity to meet everyone behind the scenes of your operation, so you’re trusting your tour guides to act as the face of your business.

Whether you’re hiring new staff members to get ready for your busy season or you’re hoping to inspire your current tour guides to keep up the good work, read on to learn the most essential characteristics that make a tour guide stand out.

The Best Tour Guides Are…

Local Experts

Out-of-town customers probably don’t know a lot about your area. An excellent guide offers more than just information on their chosen tour, but is eager to share everything from recommendations on where to eat to other can’t-miss experiences around town. 

This local knowledge creates an authentic tour experience that makes guests feel excited about the area, and even more likely to recommend your activities to their friends and families. 


Nobody wants to listen to a tour guide who sounds like they’re reading from a script. A skillful tour guide weaves fun facts, points of interest, and local secrets into one memorable tour so that the customers do not feel like they are simply learning a lot of information, but rather that they are part of the experience.

They ask and answer questions, engage guests in conversation, and have customers on the edge of their seats with their storytelling skills. 

Funny & Personable

Even if the tour covers serious topics or moments in history, guests still appreciate a tour guide with an affable personality and good sense of humor. 

Jokes aside, an effective tour guide can hold everyone’s attention, relate to all kinds of people, and keep the atmosphere friendly and fun throughout the tour, even in the event of problems like a bus breaking down or a scheduled attraction being closed. 

Good With Directions

Having a sense of direction isn’t just about being good at reading a map. Tour guides with a great sense of direction know all the little shortcuts and best routes through town, and they don’t get turned around in the event of a road closure or route change. 

When guests inevitably ask for directions to another location after the tour ends, tour guides with a keen sense of direction are happy to help them find their way.

Culturally Sensitive

It goes without saying that the best tour guides are respectful of different cultures and work hard to educate everyone in the group about the local culture. 

They make everybody feel welcome regardless of their background and create a dialogue around different customs and ideas.


When someone loves their job it shows, and that is no different for tour guides! A true passion for interacting with people and showing them an incredible time is what sets exceptional tour guides apart.

A tour guide who is clearly enthusiastic about the industry goes above and beyond. They stay after to talk with guests and inquire about their trip, and go the extra mile to make a customer’s experience the best it can be. 

How to Spot an Amazing Tour Guide

The quality of the tour guide is evident right from the start of the tour, when they make introductions. A good tour guide will introduce themselves, but an outstanding tour guide takes the time to quickly memorize everyone’s names and learn a few things about them, like where they’re from or why they chose to come on the tour or activity.

Here are a few more ways tour guides stand out on tour:

  • Show guests off-the-beaten-path locations and “secret” spots, like the best places to eat, and authentic places guests should visit after the tour.
  • Describe to guests what makes the tour or activity so special, drawing on knowledge from past travels and life experiences.
  • End the tour by inviting guests to return and asking for their honest feedback. A great tour guide wants to know how they can improve and what parts of the tour guests liked or didn’t like.

Do these sound like the kind of employees you want on your team? With some interview preparation and the right questions up your sleeve, attracting excellent tour guides is a breeze. See sample interview questions and additional hiring tips on FareHarbor Compass.

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