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What is the focus of guided tours – the knowledge, the object, the guide or the guest?

On Saturday, I was allowed to give a lecture on the topic “Needs of guests” at the 20th Bavarian Guest Guide Day, which is organized every year by the Munich Guest Guide Association. As a subtitle I deliberately chose, ” What is the focus – The knowledge, the object, the guide or the guest”.

In my agencies DonauGuides and austriaguide.at we get with approx. 30% of the inquiries the wish of the guests that it should be please a good guide and not too many data and facts. Why do city tours have such a bad image? Are there so many bad guides or did guests just have a bad experience at some point that became so ingrained?

In my presentation, I first went into the theory behind the needs of guests. The American psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a pyramid of needs. Even if this has been partly outdated and expanded and there are now other approaches in psychology, such as by Reinhard Schober, the needs pyramid still explains best what needs we have to deal with in a leadership.

The basic physiological needs (hunger, thirst, heat, cold, standing, sitting, urge to go to the toilet) and the need for security (orientation, ) must be served first, before social and individual needs and, above all, self-realization are taken care of. At the same time, the needs are different at different ages. With children and seniors, you have to be more concerned with basic needs, with teenagers, more concerned with social needs, etc.

What guides prefer to serve are the individual needs and, if it is a real experiential tour at eye level with the guest and discussion and change processes are triggered, also the self-realization.

In addition to needs, perception types (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory, and gustatory) also play a role. Here, we humans are influenced differently and again children more in the kinesthetic, who have to get rid of their energy, for example, before they can sit still in a museum to look at a work of art. That’s why I always include energy games in my guided tours for children in the company StadtLux – Adventure tours, where children are allowed to run up or down stairs, have to count them in the process and get back into balance in a fun and playful way, so that we can then move on to knowledge topics.

In the second part of the presentation, in addition to the special needs of children’s, teenagers’, seniors’ groups, religious and political groups were also discussed. From many agencies (especially river cruise ships) we get the requirement not to talk about politics and religion with the guests. But it is precisely these issues that interest foreign guests, especially in comparison with their home country. How do I deal with such sensitive issues? How do I lead a group of an AFD deputy through the Bundestag?

At the end of the presentation, the focus was on people with impairments. Based on the theory, we were able to find out together how guided tours can become an experience for people with visual or hearing impairments as well. For guides who lead groups with mentally impaired people and want to further educate themselves in this area, the Federation of European Guides offers training to become a T-Guide.

In summary, each individual guest has special needs that should be addressed as individually as possible. That is why the profession of the tour guide is so challenging, needs a good preparation and for this comprehensive care an appropriate fee. This is because the needs of the guides must also be taken into account and often fall short on this point.

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