Doing a good tour is not something you do alone. Of course, studying is something you start doing by and mostly for yourself. In my case, it was to calm my nerves. I don't want to be caught in telling untruths or risk my guests getting bored. So I study up always. I take the extra effort to google and read books about history. I also make it a point to listen to other guides stories and my neighbors who tell me very interesting things about our area. And this lead to my new goal in life: in a few years, I'd like Google to answer difficult questions with saying: hmmm I have to Louke that. A work in progress.
For each tour, there is a route to figure out. Even on tours designed by somebody else, I have to familiarise myself with it. I need to be able to walk and talk and be aware of my guests all at the same time. Over time I got more comfortable in juggling those elements and am now able to offer a fully interactive and customizable tour as we are doing it. I even have an internal clock so I never have to check my phone to see how much time has gone by.
Then there are all the stops that I select. They have to be really good for me to endorse them. So I test them out before I start bringing people over. It is al subjective so the only standard I have is my own. But I am getting pickier by the day. After a while, I noticed that the lucky store owners starting recognizing me and striking deals as thanks for all the business I bring them. It is a matter of frequent visits because I don't bring in loads of cash per visit. And all the praise and enthusiasm counts too. We develop great working relationships over time and that is beneficial to the mood that is set for each tour. In the words of my nephew: we went on a tour with a guy who knew everybody and that made us feel like we were popular too.
I like great moods wherever I go. It makes life way pleasant. And I am in the business of walking around town with people that are on vacation. So a good mood is a key to success. The thing I like most about private tours is the idea behind it. You experience a place better when you are being shown around by somebody who knows the place and loves it. This way you feel like you are a part of it for the duration of your stay. As an extra perk, you as a guide get to experience your own place like you are on vacation too. So it works both ways.
As a talker, it is really nice that if your storytelling skills are good, you get to tell them to a dedicated audience. What is more fulfilling? The basics of what is expected from a guide are pretty self-explanatory. So that is where you start. Over time, you get comfortable with all the facts and learn a lot about what people find interesting. So I invite my guests to ask any and all questions they may have. It leads to very engaging conversations with people on a daily basis. I learn a lot about different cultures and my own. As a personal extra, I get the chance to improve my world with bits and pieces of history that are important for understanding life in my country and the world. I get to inform people all over the globe about what really goes on in misunderstood areas and about things that humanity learned from history and how things came to be. I get a sense of importance from it. All while being as entertaining as can be and treating my guests to the best possible time.
Is it too soon to tell you that I really really love my job?