Tour Planning for Adventure Guides – Explore your area…

Explore your area… What do I mean?

By now you should be confident with the trips you are running for your clients, so it is time for you to grow your knowledge some more. Take a couple of days and head out into the area you operate in visiting some of the accommodation establishments and other operators. Introduce yourself and what you offer and find out more in person about what they offer.

Most hotels or accommodation will take you around and show you some of their rooms and facilities as everyone likes a bit of free publicity – just don’t plan on visiting if you know there is a big conference or wedding on as my experience is then staff are really busy – but if you are looking at a big hotel, there is still normally someone around to show you. But make sure you have some questions to ask so you can file the answers in your memory for future.

Visiting other operators can be a little more tricky, especially in the paranoid environment of South Africa where most Adventure Operators think you are out to try and steal their ideas or clients, when in reality it would be so much better for the industry as a whole if everyone worked together.  So do not be affronted if you are made not welcome when visiting. The more of us who strive to be welcoming and willing to assist will slowly develop an industry that respects other operators and promotes a sharing of ideas which will grow the industry and so help everyone. You will however get to meet some operators who like you, are striving to be the best, and they will be open and willing to share ideas – these are the ones you will want to develop good relationships with.

From personal experience getting to know the hotels and other accommodation in the Drakensberg and what they can offer, allowed me to recommend a particular establishment to a group of Israeli ladies for their holiday in the Drakensberg as this establishment was able to cater to their specific dietary needs, which a lot of the big hotels were not able to do. So although not the actual adventure activities, without the accommodation, the tour would never have happened.

Next time…. Networking.

Michelle owns Globetrotting My Way and has 22 years experience planning trips.

Tour Planning for Adventure Guides – The next level…

Following on from: Tour Planning for Adventure Guides…

For me the next level in Trip Planning, means getting to know the areas you run your trips in – not the geography of the area but the history and other operators working in the same area.

A good guide will know their activity really well and will run a safe trip for their clients. A great guide however will add to the experience with information – you become an ambassador for your country. So get to know the history of the area you operate in so you can inform your clients about this history and what makes the area so special.

By getting to know what the other operators do in the area you operate in, you will be able to suggest other points of interest to your clients as most of us are with clients for a couple of hours at least, so you will be getting to know all about their interests and it makes you come across as informed and knowledgeable which is great customer service.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to be guided by different people in all sorts of activities and those who had information to share that was historical or funny or helpful has meant that I remember those guides far better than those who were technically competent in the activity they were running but whose “people skills” and customer service was very lacking or non-existent.

Top Tip: When talking to a group, make sure they are looking at the view so what you are saying becomes relevant to what they are seeing. See picture at the top.

Strive to be the great guide!

Next time… Explore your area.

Michelle owns Globetrotting My Way and has 22 years experience planning trips.

Tour Planning for Adventure Guides

Most Adventure guides I know think of tour planning as that annoying and sometimes frustrating part of being able to get out and do the activities they love, so I thought I would share my thoughts on the benefits of good tour planning.

For the newly qualified adventure guide you will have worked on a trip plan or two as part of your assessment process and so will understand that taking clients out to do those adrenalin activities you love has a lot more involved, especially if you want to bring back your clients safely and ensure your business continues to grow.

As a professional you will have decided on an activity to offer to paying clients and initially this may be one activity or in one area, so you start with your first trip plan. In addition to the activity itself though there is much to take in to consideration.

  • Access permits to the areas you will be travelling through;
  • Equipment required for the activity;
  • Transport – do you need to pick up your clients (if so do you have the required licences for yourself and your vehicle);
  • Food – will you be supplying lunch and snacks for your clients or all meals; Staff – do you require assistants to help with your group or is it just yourself running a trip from point A to B with clients, do you have a backup guide available to call on should you fall ill the day before the trip starts;
  • Accommodation – does your activity require overnight accommodation;
  • Emergency contacts – it is good practice to know the closest hospitals and doctors to where your trip will be run and contact telephone numbers.

I won’t go into detail on each of the above points as I am sure you are all aware of these and will have looked at each point in developing your own trip plans. It is important to note however that it is these additional aspects that added to an activity make the trip plan and once you have each item listed it is easy to look at the relevant costs associated and so work out the cost of your trip for each client.

Once you have your first trip plan done you are now in a position to work on your second one, whether it be a different activity or the same activity in a different area. I would recommend revisiting your trip plans twice a year to re-evaluate if it is still working or after significant cost changes – fuel price rises or changes to access permits costs etc.

So this is how we have all started as professionals in the Adventure guiding business and next time I will look at what can be done next to take your business to the next level…

Michelle owns Globetrotting My Way and has 22 years experience planning trips.

Featured image credit: Willemien Du Plessis