This will be my second year as a tour guide at our local (general history) museum. (My other duties include cleaning, storing, numbering, and helping preserve artifacts.) I absolutely love my job, and approach it with great enthusiasm.
The greatest amount of customers come from families/tourism, but we also give tours to large groups of local grade-schoolers. Mostly, our tours are one-on-one, but sometimes during our busiest times, we’ll have a group of tourists with one guide leading the tour.
What I would like to know is what you enjoy or dislike most in a tour guide. People often tell me that they enjoyed the tour, but never provide any constructive criticism. If possible, give examples of something that a tour guide did that either bothered or pleased you. What sort of details do you enjoy?
As a guide I’ve often wanted to share these “tips” with museum-goers:
Please, ask questions! We enjoy answering them, and it makes the tour so much more fun, because then we can determine what interests you the most, and can focus on that aspect.
For the love of God, keep a leash on your kids! Occasionally, it will take me longer than the tour to wipe the fingerprints and drool off of the cases, and I get a sore throat from having to shout over a shrieking child. In one room, we have artifacts out of their cases, and when I have to constantly remind them not to touch, it gets distracting.
Please don’t touch anything yourself. I know you’re not intending to break anything, and you’ll be “careful” but there’s a reason why I have to wear cotton gloves to touch the items myself. Fingerprints can be damaging to wood finishes, and sometimes old furniture is very fragile.
Please don’t wander off! When leading a group, other get annoyed when I have to chase you down and bring you back to the group.