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How often do you get applause at the end of a tour?
In my book, applause is the ultimate sign of a job well done. Visible, real-time approval, directly from your customers. And here's the secret;
Getting applause at the end of a tour, has very little to do with having given a spectacular, above and beyond performance, and much more to do with structuring a clear and intentional finish to your tour.
The good news? It's scientific, takes little effort to plan out, and easily duplicated.
In this article, I'll give a structure for the perfect tour ending that will have guests break into applause (and reaching into their pocket for the most generous tip they can find).
Why are endings important?
I've talked about the Peak-End Rule before which, simply put, proves that people often only remember a small portion of an entire experience. One of the things they remember? Beginnings, and ending.
Tour endings can be muddled, there's a lot going on logistically, and guests start to check out, thinking about what they're going to do next. This means it's important to have a tour ending that is structured for impact.
Here are three things to consider when structuring your tour;
Be aware of your physical setting.
At the end of the tour, you want to gather people around and capture their attention so you can send them off with a big finish. This is hard to do if you're on a busy street corner, or if you are rushing them to their timed museum entrance, or if your final stop is a restaurant where guests are spread out and unable to physically 'gather around'.
I once went on a fantastic tour that finished at the most amazing venue, a broadway-sing-along-piano-bar (yes, it's as amazing as you're picturing right now). It was crowded, dark, and filled with people belting out the lyrics to their favorite Broadway musical. And the attention of the guests was immediately on everything BUT the guide. It made the ending fuzzy, unclear if the tour had officially ended or not. I only realized it was over when the guide walked by quickly to thank me for joining then headed out- I didn't even have enough time to pass him a tip.
Solution? If you can't change where your tour physically ends, maybe change WHEN you end the tour. Who says your 'big finish' has to be the very last thing that happens? Maybe your 'big finish' comes just before you head into your last stop.
Take into account all of your tour logistics.
There is a lot of 'stuff' that usually happens at the end of a tour. Sometimes guides are required to collect emails, hand out cards or flyers. Guests might need directions, guides are hoping to collect tips...
Solution? Plan out specifically the order of when each task will take place. Maybe you can hand out flyers midway through the tour, instead of the end. You can also assure guests just before your ending, that, 'once the tour has finished', you'll be happy to stick around and give directions (bonus- you get extra points for 'staying afterward' to give directions).
I used to give a tour that ended at a bar.
Included in the tour was a beer, so I would give a final bit of information while we waited for the guests to be served. Once everyone had their drink I would make a point to say, "Ok, I'm going to go settle up the bill, then when I come back, we'll finish the tour & I'm happy to stick around afterward to answer any questions or give directions" (bonus- knowing that the ending was 'coming up' gave my guests time to get their cash tips ready, something at least one would do, prompting others to do it as well).
Sum up your Tour Theme with an amazing final anecdote or call to action.
This is where you really 'wow' your guests.
Hopefully, even if you haven't flat out stated your tour theme to your guests, it's obvious there's a connection through everything that's been talked about throughout the tour.
Now's the time to sum it all up with a final point or story. Even better, give them a call to action. When you've finished, you should feel like you need to take a bow.
I tell my guides that this is your opportunity to have the guests wiping a tear as they applaud the finish.
A guide I knew in Venice talked a lot during her tour about how to be a respectful visitor. At the end of her tour, she gave a powerful call to action;
"So now I hope I have given you enough tips on how to navigate this city like a local, and blend in. I want to see the locals surprised when they realize you're a tourist! Our beloved city has undergone a lot of negative effects from tourism, but I hope that you can now go out and love our city as it was meant to be loved, and serve as an example to other travelers you meet."
Even if her guests HADN'T realized her hints throughout the tour, they certainly do now, and might even feel a sense of pride to go out and 'be a good tourist'.