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In my career, I've been on a lot of tours.
Probably more tours than your typical traveler will ever take. And in my personal and honest opinion, I find most tours to be average.
That's not to say they're bad. They're totally acceptable and racking up the 5-star reviews on Trip Advisor (side-note: getting 5-star reviews is an entirely separate skill/process from running an amazing tour). But out of all the tours I've ever taken, only a few have ever really blown me away from start to finish.
You might call me biased or jaded, as my job is literally to evaluate tour experiences. But if you think critically of tours you've taken, how many have had a phenomenal guide, who excelled at logistics and group dynamics on top of knowing their stuff while being entertaining PLUS had a really unique and relatable tour theme PLUS was a few levels above what you expected when you signed up for the tour.
To be honest, that's a tall order. And it's really hard to pull off consistently.
And if you think about it, if the customers are asking for these average tours and are more than satisfied by them (and, again, are already leaving those 5-star reviews), wouldn't it be a waste of time and resources to deliver something more in-depth?
I (obviously) say no.
Why shouldn't we strive to push the bar higher for the average tour experience?
I've written before about the incredible ability of a tour to influence guests, and the power of a tour guide to protect their cities. Why not take advantage of that impact and consistently make tours the most memorable part of the average trip?
Below I'll share three benefits that come with prioritizing the quality of your tours.
A Pool of High-Quality Guides.
Phenomenal guides are engaging and passionate. To encourage those qualities we need to have incentives and motivation with regular training, integration into the larger travel industry (kudos to Arival for having an entire day of Arival 360 where there will be educational content for guides), and reasons to love the brands they work for.
One of the top questions I get from tour operators is how to find quality guides (the second question is how to keep them). In a perfect world, there would ONLY be high-quality guides, because companies could no longer afford to employ lesser than that.
More Word of Mouth Referrals.
This incredibly valuable referral is even more if you're a company that doesn't operate in many destinations and so, not realistically looking at repeat customers.
You can have a system to prompt guests to leave reviews, but even if a guest really enjoyed their tour, most will not remember the name of the tour company they booked with later on. They might not have known it to begin with if they booked through a third-party. To get them to remember your name (& recommend it to their friends) you need to have a phenomenal tour experience that is also heavily branded.
Brand Consistency Across Tours.
Amazing tours are highly structured which makes it easier to inject your brand's unique spin consistently on every tour. Your high-quality guide would also understand the professional importance of representing a brand during the tour.