Top Qualities Every Tour Guide Should Have

June 29, 2019
Keri Pfeiffer (she/her)
4 min read

Being a tour guide is a fulfilling and inspiring job. Every day is filled with places and experiences that people pay money and often travel great distances to see.

It’s not to say that it’s an easy job though. Leading a group of people and making sure they all have an amazing time certainly has its challenges.

Whether you're looking to hire or considering leading a tour group yourself, here are some of the key tour guide qualities to be on the lookout for or muster up.

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Tour Guide Qualities For Leading Group Tours

Great Communicator

Any great tour guide needs to be able to connect with the group. It's part of what makes a trip so memorable. Of course, communication is a two-way channel, so it's as much about listening as it is being heard.

Travelers go on a trip to discover something new, and part of that may include them asking questions. A tour leader has to be prepared to answer and engage with the group. Not to mention have a loud enough voice to project over a number of people if it's needed.

It’s more than simply answering questions too. Having great tour guide qualities means being able to structure and communicate back information in a way that it can be easily understood by the group.

Communication with tour participants

Knows Their Stuff

Leading a group means people look to you for information. If the guide is not able to provide that information, they are going to lose the interest of the group.

This means memorizing facts and figures, being able to tell interesting stories and just generally being able to respond to anything that gets thrown their way. It’s not going to win any points if the guide has to read information off the internet or a piece of paper – the travelers can do that themselves.

In this case, it often helps for the tour guide to be local to the area. Who knows a city or place better than someone who actually lives there? It gives the travelers in the group a genuine feel, as under the guidance of a local, they can get an authentic take on the place they're exploring.

Bicycle tour and leader

Charismatic Personality

A tour group size can be any number of people, say from two to twenty. The trip duration may also range from two hours to five days – whatever the case may be. Each person attending is looking for information, as well as entertainment (we don’t mean putting on a show), from the tour leader. After all, they didn’t sign up for a history or geography lesson. They signed up to learn about a place and the people, to understand something outside of their own everyday experience.

With this in mind, one of the very important tour guide qualities to have is charisma. Both the group and the guide will feed energy off each other, and being around a large number of people can be mentally draining. Make sure that the energy is there in the first place to set the tone and make a memorable experience for everyone.

Able To Improvise

No two days are ever the same when leading a trip. And one of the important tour guide qualities to have is to be ready to take everything in stride if things don’t go exactly to plan. The weather may change or someone in the group could fall sick, there’s nothing to prevent these things from happening.

And when they do, travelers will turn to the guide to say what's next? This is when being able to think on your feet and keep things rolling helps to maintain the experience level which the group has come to expect.

Tour guide who can improvise

Extremely Organized

Hustling a group of people around can be challenging. There's always someone lagging behind or wanting to go in another direction at the last minute. That's why it's important to be organized and have a schedule to stick to.

Timing is everything when you have sold an itinerary, and often it means the guide is holding tickets for a specific attraction or event. Organizing these beforehand and having them available when they’re needed makes things run more efficiently.

Of course, as we mentioned above, one of the key tour guide qualities is being able to improvise. But overall, providing structure to the day makes for a better experience. Travelers probably won’t want to be sitting around waiting for the guide to secure tickets to an attraction they should have seen an hour ago.

Organize a tour group

Display Empathy and Understanding

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and energy of a group. But at the same time, it's important to keep an eye on everyone and make sure they're all having an equally good time.

Tour guides often lead travelers from all parts of the world. Displaying empathy and understanding of different social norms and cultures is key. A group is made up of individuals, and a tour leader needs to be able to make that connection. The trick is to not simply see everyone as a unit who does and enjoys the same thing.

Can Engage a Group

When you get a bunch of people together who don't know each other or are from different countries, there may be some social awkwardness in the beginning. It's the tour leader's job to set everyone at ease and encourage interaction within the group.

Having an open and friendly demeanor is, therefore, one of the tour guide qualities a person needs to lead a group. Encouraging everyone to connect, and making sure they get on well together will ensure they have an amazing shared experience.

Friendly tour guide


Finally, we have patience. A tour leader is going to be asked a million questions a day, and there'll likely be some that pop up repeatedly. Approaching the answer with enthusiasm every time is a sign of a great guide as not everyone has the patience for it!

Final Thoughts

A tour guide has the ability to make or break a travel experience, so having the right person leading a group is key to its success. Dealing with different people makes each day unique, and a great leader, in turn, will make a tour unique for each of them.