Tour guides were exposed early on to the sudden decline in travel demand as movement was restricted, trips canceled, sights, restaurants, and hotels closed, leaving them without work.
So, what does this mean for guides who are often freelancers or contract workers and rely on seasonal work and tips over a regular salary?
The pandemic is impacting businesses to varying levels, forcing many to seek government assistance and reassess their cashflow. There’s no telling how long this will last either. For any who are in the position to continue supporting their tour guides, here are some ideas for work to put them to during this time.
Ideas To Keep Tour Guides Busy During The COVID-19 Travel Shut Down
Provide Support To Your Team
Despite the trying times we’re currently living and working through, people and businesses are adapting to try and make the most of the current situation.
For example, many are making the transition to work from home in order to flatten the curve. They’re also pivoting in work roles, coming together to provide customer and supplier support in response to the pandemic.
Your tour guides can follow a similar suit as there may be several ways they can add value to the business, even from a remote location. With access to the right technology, distance is no longer a barrier for companies working together.
Because they are usually people facing and know how to manage travelers’ expectations, guides could provide phone support to clients calling in during this time. This would allow the rest of the customer support team to handle written communications with greater focus.
They could also monitor social channels and acknowledge and forward on urgent queries that need attention. Again, this would help the main administrative or support team respond to the more pressing cases in order of priority.
Write Blog Content To Build Your Library
Tour guides are extremely knowledgeable about your tour and the experience you sell. They are experts on destinations, history, activities, food, sports: whatever it is that you offer. As a result, they are perfectly positioned to write authoritative guides that you can use as lead magnets on your blog.
Another idea could be to compile a collection of travel stories by your tour guides. Because they lead clients on every trip that goes out, they are present when amazing things happen, or unusual situations arise.
In ordinary circumstances, they might not always have the time to record these sorts of experiences. However, the stories they have to tell could provide great marketing material for your tour business if collected or written down.
Now that your guides aren’t out in the field, ask them to put these experiences into writing for you to add to your content library. Even if they aren’t expert writers, this could be refined by a member of your marketing team once the text has an outline.
They might even have images taken on the trips that they hadn’t previously gotten around to sharing with the marketing department.
Use the time to collect all of this valuable content and piece it together. The end product can be shared on social media to delight your existing and potential clients while they are dreaming of new adventures during lockdown.
It will have the added advantage of allowing travelers to get to know your guides better as well. When travel resumes in the future, clients will walk onto a trip and be able to create a strong rapport right away.
Lead Travelers On Digital Tours
In recent weeks, we have seen many companies, OTAs, and platforms get on board with offering virtual tours, both live and recorded. Setting your tour guide up to host a virtual tour can help them to bring in an income as well as serve to keep travelers engaged in the process.
For example, Viator, which belongs to TripAdvisor, launched a project called #RoamFromHome. They have listed over 100 virtual experiences offered by small businesses on the platform, ranging from home cooking courses to digital walks around landmarks or cities.
The company will direct all its social media activity to these products until further notice.
Then Airbnb had initially put a hold on selling Experiences. However, they have come back with the addition of Online Experiences, which sells digital versions of the type of experiences they normally offer, including meditation classes, cooking courses, professional-led fitness products, and barista classes among others.
Another example is Context Conversations. These are live, interactive, paid seminars led by local specialists who have teaching backgrounds. Guides cover topics such as Treasures of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and Secrets of Kyoto Geishas. Alternatively, travelers can sign up for online experiences such as a Champagne Brunch Experience with Food Pairing.
Tour company Travel Curious has launched its #StayCurious project, which offers live interactive tours on Instagram. They have opened up guide tipping for travelers to show their support.
From the examples above, you can see that there are a variety of virtual tour formats now on offer. Adding this sort of product to your repertoire can prove to be a valuable income generator for your guides as well as your business.
With little other option to satisfy their wanderlust for the time being, travelers are increasingly participating, as you will see from the experience reviews. All that is really needed is a great idea and reliable hardware to record/stream the tour.
We hope these suggestions will spark some ideas to help your tour guides, travel business, and employees refocus their efforts or generate alternative income streams. As the world continues to respond to the impact of COVID-19, the need for mutual support and creativity becomes clear.
For more helpful resources to assist you with various aspects of your travel business during COVID-19, see the link here.