The Journey begins- Winter’s day in the life of a Tour Leader pt2

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The Journey begins – Part 2

Journey begins as the doors close and you switch the microphone on for the first time, stand up and wedge yourself in the front seat for safety while you move and take one last gulp in a very dry mouth, readying yourself for your first words. You have done this so many times before, but it’s still always so new everytime and never know just what is going to come out of your mouth. Will you be funny this morning, will your ‘dad jokes’ not work at all, will they even be taken in by your effort of charm and confidence?

Gazing over the group from the front of the coach scanning all the way to the back, you give all a reassuring look, but what you’re really looking for is their body language and looks on their faces. You’re trying to determine what mood they are in and if you get that friendly smile back. Friendly or hostile?? That’s all that is going through your head right now, but even so it builds up your excitement of the challenge that you are about to face.

The Journey begins
Those Bright lights coming around the corner

The first time on the microphone

You boom into action with a big hello on the Mic! Their heads all lift and body language changed to a ready and listening position. You can see they are still cold and extremely tired from the very early morning start. Many of the guys and girls would have been travelling from 4.30 am to meet you on time and this kind of early morning journey would be an unknown to many

You reassure them that the heating is on and that they should be feeling that warmth again soon now that the coach is moving and jokingly mention for them not to fall asleep on you as it gets warmer. You joke about this, but know for a fact that this is true and you know you have a ton of information you want to share and also want to collect before the heating puts them to lullabies.

Beginning to congratulate and thank them all for the heroic effort they made today, you also reassure them that they are going to have a great time and make new friends on this journey. You tell them how this is a special journey and an amazing opportunity they would never get at home and you being to tell them they are in good hands, as you and John promise to take care of them by giving them all the best possible tour that you both are capable of giving.

All the while you have your eagle eyes working and looking for the reactions to your words. The guy in the 10th row has his arms crossed, the lady 3 rows back on the other side didn’t make any real eye contact and there is a woman near the back talking and you can tell she is clearly relaying your message to the two older passengers who didn’t speak great English at the sign in. Your mind is ticking already!

‘Please please please dont be difficult, this tour is way too long to have difficult people making this journey harder’

It’s time to give the nuts and bolts of your first day talk. It’s going to take 30-40 mins  and is the most critical talk of the tour. You’re already thinking:

‘Got to keep them interested, got to make sure it flows today, need to set up this tour right…’

Get it right and enforce it well by managing their expectations, and you’re in for the easiest tour for yourself and John. Get it wrong and dont deliver it with any conviction or method, and you’ll be chasing people the entire tour and having upset passengers as things are not going as they had thought in their own mind. It’s a rookie mistake that you have seen all too often, other guides just don’t get how important it is to set up the tour and ‘train’ your passengers on how the tour will run, what to expect, how they need to act or respond, and about the nuances of your role and just as important their role as passengers.

Its flowing beautifully just like a pure mountain spring. Its feels inviting  and refreshing on an early morning with some hints of humour to keep everyone in good spirits and enjoying your talk. You know through experience that when you have fun up the front they have fun and begin to hang on your words when you get up on the mic. All the bases are covered, you nailed it and you know it. The only thing you need to do know is start to head down the coach to chase up some vital missing information on medical and dietaries and now a chance to put on the charm with your passengers.


Putting on the charm

As you make your way down the coach you can see the ice is broken, the hints of humour have disarmed those who looked a bit uptight and you’re beginning to get some chat going on. All the time your still trying to hammer home all the names in your head while you take down  details. The aim is to have everyone remembered, all 48 of them, by the end of the second day of the tour. Such an amazing feat when you can remember their name the very next time you come to talk to them.

You focus on learning at least one thing about each person and you are making sure they are feeling very welcomed and at ease. Spending more time with those who still seem a bit uptight or shy works wonders and you can see the walls coming down as they begin to see your intentions are only good and in their interest.

The Journey begins
Charming the way down the coach

The First part is done

Information is collected and there is a bit of a buzz on the coach at the moment, they have already started a little bit of conversation amongst themselves and you got to know all you needed. Names, dietaries, learnt who needs more help with translation, who is going to be a joker, who is going to need more attention and who are the ‘Leaders’ that you want to get on your side from day one.

You’re back at the front now and finally after a solid hour of talking and chatting with your passengers you do a final reminder on the microphone of how long before you get to your first stop on this journey and tell them to have nice nap if they wish. Today is going to be massive and they are going to need the energy.

As the Microphone goes off and back into the holder you look over at john with a sigh of relief and being to catch up with your old mate, all the while you navigate the highways of the UK on your way to Dover and your morning Ferry Crossing.

In the front of your mind you are relieved and having a great chat and a laugh, but in the back of your mind you are praying that the weather in Dover is ok and the ferry on time. You’ve never enjoyed the 90 min journey ferry ride as for some reason on some days you turn a bit green as you see the horizon move up and down. What will today bring? Time will certainly tell!

Journey begins
Riding the jump seat
To be continued….

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