William T Gholson

A Rebuilt Roadster

William T. Gholson on Being a Great Guide

William T. Gholson spent years working as a guide at the Alamo, San Antonio’s most famous landmark. A guide’s job is to lead tourists through the landmark safely while offering them interesting information, interpreting certain things, and of course answering questions as well. In short, it is a job that requires good interpersonal skills. If the person in question has a genuine interest in the landmark, that makes the process easier, and at the same time improves the guide’s overall performance. While being genuinely passionate about the process is an advantage, it’s not a prerequisite.

What Is Needed

There are three main traits that a great guide should possess – being knowledgeable, having an engaging personality and having good observation skills.

Being Knowledgeable

For a guide, being knowledgeable is not just about possessing the necessary knowledge about the specifics and the history of the landmark, or knowing the sight really well. Since these interactions often turn into conversations – especially during a private tour -, being well-informed in general is just as important. A knowledgeable guide is capable of wooing their groups to a point where they hang onto every word he or she has to say.

Being Engaged

Being engaged means being a part of the group. Many other personal traits play a part here, like a sense of humor, empathy, and even punctuality. When someone is engaged in something, it means they take that task very seriously. They arrive on time, they are prepared, and they are capable of delivering the information in an engaging way.

When a guide talks at the members of his or her group instead of talking to them, the group (customers, tourists, members) will feel that. This is also one of the qualities that really reveals if the person in question has a genuine passion for what they do, or not. If the answer is yes, they are well on their way to becoming great guides, or maybe they already are.

Good Observations Skills

A tour group can be very diverse, and it often includes people who have special needs. It’s very important to see these people, as it is the tour guide’s responsibility to make the tour engaging and enjoyable to everyone, regardless of age, sex, occupation and health condition. Being flexible is another quality that needs to be mentioned here – it allows the guide to really include everybody. Flexibility implies a level of spontaneity as well, like stopping for a moment to wonder at the sunset. A quality guide is able to identify moments like these, and make them part of the experience.

As a former guide who worked at the famous Alamo landmark for years, William T. Gholson knows what it takes for somebody to become good at the job.


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