NZx – October 31st : delivering on the promise

Thursday, November 9, 2017
posted by malcolm


It’s that time of the year again.Hopefully you have your team in place, well trained and ready to go!

Recently we took part in a discussion with Tai Poutini Polytechnic, employers and others associated with tourism on the West Coast. We discussed the opportunities and issues that involve training those involved in tourism.

Much of the discussion was based on the qualities of a guide. How do you take someone that may have all the necessary technical skill (i.e. hard) but needs coaching on the (so called “softer”) skills of guiding i.e. people management ? I think there was general agreement in the group that the biggest need was in the latter. For example how do you mentor an eighteen year old to lead, inspire, entertain and enlighten a 60 year old visitor from another country?

In this blog we look at some some of the qualities we should be training just about anyone involved in tourism, but particularly guides.

Charm / ātahu

Every person in your group is looking for information and more importantly, entertainment, from their guide.  Remember we are now an entertainment centric society. A guide should always be constantly looking for opportunities to charm and involve your group in doing things, rather than just listening.

An active C drive / mātau

You may of course be a very  charming person but if you don’t have the mātau then your’e on the back foot from the start.  Yes you need to know facts, figures and anything else somebody on a tour might ask you. You also need to be prepared to find an answer and get back to people.  Make sure you engage with everyone in the group and facilitate discussion between the group.

Stories / tito

Visitors (some) love hearing  facts behind the topic of interest e.g. Tane Mahuta, but above all visitors love their guide to share a personal story about the topic. Stories engage people’s minds and more importantly hearts. Facts alone do not.

Organisation and flexibility / nahanaha

You need to be super organised and flexible if you want to be a great guide. The group will have certain expectations about what the are expecting to see. You need to deliver on those, and make sure your timing for pre-booked events is perfect. At the same time you need to be flexible. If an attraction is suddenly closed you need to find an alternative!

Humour / whakataka

Your visitors are on holiday; they want to be entertained. That includes the use of humour.  It’s a skill to be developed but can ease a difficult situation, reassure visitors, make them laugh and add real value to a situation. While jokes are part of this, the most important part is you as the leader facilitating the humour in an appropriate way.

Empathy / aroha

You can be assured that somewhere, sometime, when you have a group something will happen to someone in the group. It may be lost luggage, bad news from back home, a cultural issue,or any myriad of issues. In this situation aroha will get you a long way,  make your guests feel valued and can assist in solving the issue.

A related aside
We recently booked a hire car through a national well respected brand. Something went wrong with the booking so we when we arrived the staff were put out –  the booking hadn’t been updated. Instead of applying the principles of Manaakitanga, they made us feel as though it was our fault that the booking hadn’t updated. What happened to the ethos that the customer is always right? While the situation was eventually resolved, it certainly wasn’t in the spirit of Manaakitanga. They should read this post!

You can read some other interesting views of the qualities that make a great guide, and a tourism host, here and here!

Ka kite ano


                                                                                                                                                                            Guiding at Maungatautari

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