Each city and country is diverse in its own way.
A diverse team in Tulum, Mexico will look very different than a diverse team in Johanessburg, South Africa.
The idea is simply to have your tour guide team accurately reflect the diversity of your destination.
Only then can you reap the full benefits of skill-sharing and story-sharing between guides.
Here are some suggestions of ways you can achieve a diverse team;
In Japan, there was a team that was very hesitant to hire ex-pat tour guides, thinking guests would be disappointed when they discovered their English-speaking ‘local guide’ was a white man from California.
However, as I mentioned before, there is a lot of amazing insight an ex-pat can provide to travelers (who are foreigners themselves).
Pitched correctly to the guests, it can be seen as a great value.
Eventually, that team in Japan began hiring ex-pats and saw a huge change in their original team (all Japanese natives).
Their English proficiency improved (through regular team meetings with their English-native colleagues), and they were able to understand foreign guests better through the perspectives of the ex-pat guides.
A younger guide giving a tour of 9/11 might be able to recall their impressions of what was going on as a child, but someone who was already an adult on that fateful day will be able to share more impactful stories with their fellow guides.
They will also be able to give better insight into tour details for older guests, for example pointing out that a new proposed tour route has too much walking without a bathroom stop, or that there needs to be an elevator option.
To the same point, younger guides can keep the older ones up to date on younger trends happening in the city from music to food.
Even in the most homogenous cities, you will find racial diversity. Immigrants have spread across the world for generations.
Requiring your guides to read about the history of Chinatown in San Francisco is one thing, but having Chinese-American guides who can tell stories of family generations ago who worked on the railroads is going to raise the bar of your tour content.
Think about indigenous people, gypsies, modern-day immigrants, religious groups, etc.
The ugly fact is that very often minorities don’t have the same privileges as the majority and while tour guides certainly don’t make riches, there is a certain privilege to taking the leap to freelance.
Go one step further and partner with local non-profits offering job training to these minority groups.*
*Another category entirely could be Socio-Economic Diversity. Invisible Cities, a social enterprise dreamed up by Zakia Moulaoui, trains people affected by homelessness to become walking guides.
More experienced guides obviously bring a lot to the table. But guiding is hard, and even the best guides fall victim to falling into a routine. Newer guides, who can learn so much from more experienced guides, can also bring new energy and a willingness to evolve and grow, which can be infectious for your team.
Another obvious, and important variety to have that I haven’t mentioned here is, which could be an article of itself.
You’d be surprised at how many companies have 50/50 male-female, yet if you look at guides who give the beer tour, 99% male (and not for lack of interest).
Then, of course, you’re missing an entire group of people who are non-conforming. I cannot stress enough, the more variety of life experiences you have on your team, the better & more relevant, your tours.