After my trip to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, I was assigned to training tours to Williamsburg, Virginia and to Washington DC. On each trip I was assigned more responsibility. I was definitely starting to get the hang of being on tour. The first day of tour was a long day because we typically met the bus before 6 am. It was fun meeting the tour patrons, but it was very important to be organized in terms of checking them aboard and labeling luggage. Otherwise, things could get a bit chaotic.
I learned to always, always count patrons before leaving any stop. You never wanted to leave anyone behind. Can you imagine having to turn the bus around to go back to get a passenger that you forgot? That would be a very bad day. So once you had everyone on board, that number of people, say 42, became the magic number. When I thought I had everyone on board after a stop, I would walk down the aisle counting. For good measure, I would recount on the way back to the front. If I had the magic number, I would tell the driver we were good to go.
On my training tours I started to understand what worked best in terms of managing the tour. For instance, after lunch it was best to put on some soothing music from my grandparent’s generation and let the tour patrons rest. Right after lunch was not the time to give out important information or tell your funniest jokes. Best to save those for a time when people we more focused. Also, the quicker you could learn everyone’s name, the better. I learned the value of having a candy tin to periodically pass around. The passengers really enjoyed the sweets. It was about finding the balance between being entertaining, engaging, and helpful without being annoying. From the tours I had been on, it was clear that each guide had his or her own style. I needed to find what would work for me.
It was a good thing that my final training tour was to Washington, DC because I was scheduled to take my first solo tour to Washington, DC the following week! Not an easy place to be a tour guide! So much to see! Would I survive a solo trip to our Nation’s Capital as a newly minted tour guide?