talking points for nature guides
index to talking points for nature guides
Tips for handling difficult visitors
updated Jun 10
A visitor can be a dream or a nightmare. It's all up to YOU!

Here's some typical visitor behaviour that guides may find difficult to handle. Be aware, that half of the problem is YOU.

Visitor not interested in what you are saying
  • Perhaps the visitor doesn't understand you? Are you too scientific? Too long-winded? Making the visitor feel stupid?
  • Perhaps the visitor is not feeling well?
  • Perhaps the visitor really isn't interested in the subject matter? Did you find out what the visitor IS interested in?
  • A walk is also a time for visitors to spend quality time with their family or friends. It is PERFECTLY ALRIGHT for them to talk to one another, make private jokes, ignore you and do their own thing. Don't attempt to monopolise the ENTIRE walk. Give them some time to have their own social interaction.

Visitor interrupts you, points to other things instead of the thing you want to talk about

  • Perhaps the visitor really isn't interested in the subject matter? Did you find out what the visitor IS interested in?
  • Always focus on what the visitor wants to talk about. Don't force them to listen to you if they prefer to do something else.

Visitor wanders off, refuses to get their shoes wet

  • Perhaps the visitor really isn't interested in the subject matter? Did you find out what the visitor IS interested in?
  • It's OK to let old people stay on the high shore. Alert the Walk Coordinator to handle them while you take the rest out.

Visitor collects large amounts of things
Try to explain gently why this should not be done. If it's a lost cause, leave it to the Walk Coordinator to manage while you take the rest of the group onward for the rest of the tour.

Visitor is destructive
Visitors that damage the habitat and harass animals usually want to interact. They just don't know how to do it gently. Guide them into the correct way of doing so.

  • "Would you like to see the animal come out of the hole/shell? The best way is to wait patiently. While we wait, let's see what other animals we can find in this pool?"
  • "If you kick stones you may hurt yourself and others around you. Is there something I can show you?"

Visitor is a danger to himself
Visitors that do dangerous things usually don't know that it's dangerous. Do a proper pre-walk safety briefing to highlight these issues: touching things, climbing rocks and sea walls.

Avoiding difficult behaviour
Difficult behaviour is best avoided by finding out what the visitors want to do and tailoring the tour to meet their expectations. Destructive behaviour is best avoided by a proper pre-walk briefing. Dangerous behaviour is avoided by a thorough safety briefing. More details in role of a guide.

Don't be a bad guide. Be a good guide instead.

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