The Changing Face of the Tour Guide and Its Impact on Tourist Experiences

The Changing Face of the Tour Guide and Its Impact on Tourist Experiences

Ayşe Şengöz (Akdeniz University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4380-4.ch010
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Abstract

Tourism is an important sector due to its contribution to the economy and employment. Despite the decreasing tourism activities under pandemic conditions, positive effects can be mentioned for all countries of the world. While tourism has an effect on all stakeholders, time also has various effects on tourism. Tour guides who try to act in accordance with these effects have to improve and transform themselves. A tour guide who can keep up with innovations can only benefit his country and provide satisfaction to the customer. Therefore, in this chapter, the development and usability of information and communication technologies, socio-demographic trends, the changing profiles and preferences of tourists, the expectations of tourists regarding social and environmental responsibility, and the implications and reactions of the guided tour industry will be examined. Moreover, escaping from overcrowded destinations, guides, and tourists who are prone to smart tourism, the changing nature of tour guide communication, and changing travel models and approaches will be examined in detail.
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Introduction

The sustainability of the tourism sector and ensuring customer satisfaction are largely related to the service of the tourist guide. Tourist guides are cultural ambassadors that establish a connection between the host country and visitors (Ap & Wong, 2001: 551). A tourist guide is someone who guides visitors in their chosen language and interprets the cultural and natural heritage of an area recognized by an appropriate authority (WFTGA, 2021). Moreover, a tourist guide is “a real person who has the right and authority to provide tourist guidance services by being accepted into the profession by the provisions of the law. Tourist guiding service; provided that it is not a travel agency activity, domestic or foreign tourists as individuals or groups, using the language they have chosen before the trip, can provide information about the country's culture, tourism, history, environment, nature, social, etc. It means promoting and showing the values and assets in line with cultural and tourism policies. It also states that the tours organized by the travel agencies are carried out as defined in the written documents of the travel agency and sold to the consumer and managed on behalf of the agency (Tourist Guidance Vocational Law, 2012: article 2). The understanding of professionalism lies in the basic concept of the profession. Cogan (1953) defines the profession as “an occupation based on an understanding of the theoretical structure of some learning or science department and the abilities accompanying this understanding”.

As a result of the changing and developing technological opportunities, the methods of practicing the profession and the experiences of the guides have also changed. With the development of technology, information is easily accessible. For example, when tourists wonder about the family of a plant while visiting a historical site, they can get information by taking a photo of the plant with a mobile application. With the augmented reality made through guides, museums and ruins narratives have become widespread. Moreover, thanks to social media, access to tourism and all kinds of tourism-related information has become easier. Potential customers have the chance to read the reviews of the customers who have gained experience before going on the tour or to watch the online videos about the relevant destination. The fact that tourists can easily obtain information from the Internet and social media require the guides to constantly improve themselves and to have the most accurate, up-to-date, and reliable information about the areas and events they tour.

Spreading from Wuhan to the world in 2019, COVID-19 has affected every aspect of life and consumer behavior. It is expected that the changing situations due to COVID-19 will also reflect on touristic consumer behaviors and lead to differences in the understanding of tourism in the future. COVID-19 has also caused tourist guides to improve themselves in some respects and to various changes in their professions. As a result of these changes and developments, the roles of guides in tourism have begun to differ. For the guidance profession to keep up with the changing world, it is necessary to review their vocational education. In this field, courses containing current topics have been added to the curriculum and/or have been proposed to be added.

While the tours carried out before the pandemic were mainly aimed at mass tourism, they started to be made in buses with less capacity and to appeal to fewer people, taking into account the health factor during and after the pandemic. Tourists ask for tours and content where they can get fun, memorable, and personalized experiences tailored to their interests and needs.

Tourists prefer guided tours during their travels. The most important of these is the opinion that the guides have a command of all the activities and trends that can be done in a destination. In this way, competition and sustainability in tourism can be achieved with guides.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Experience: Defined as the exchange of information and emotions between customers and the business ( O'sullivan & Spangler, 1998 AU50: The citation "O'sullivan & Spangler, 1998" matches multiple references. Please add letters (e.g. "Smith 2000a"), or additional authors to the citation, to uniquely match references and citations. ; Schmitt, 1999 ; Robinette & Brand, 2001 AU51: The in-text citation "Robinette & Brand, 2001" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Haahti & Komppula, 2006 AU52: The in-text citation "Haahti & Komppula, 2006" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). Also, experience is the gains of individuals from interactional processes that are meaningful for them in certain periods ( Knutson & Beck, 2004 : 25).

Experiences: That emerge with the use of touristic products at the touristic destination and the event of living this moment are called touristic experiences ( Çelik, 2013 : 4).

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