Page 68

Members & Travel Agents

Does Your Tour Guide Training Celebrate Diversity? By Beth Kelly Hatt President, Aquila’s Center for Cruise Excellence, FCCA’s Exclusive Training Partner


re you aware of how well your guides respond to your guests? And what about guests who are different from them? Are they delivering great service to all your guests, even those with special needs or different lifestyles, cultures or religions? When it comes to tour guiding, respectful behavior is crucial, and now is the time to have open conversations and to include respectful behavior practices in training. Tour guides deal with different people every day, people from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, lifestyles, age groups and abilities. The stereotypes that a tour guide believes can affect how guests feel treated and the guest satisfaction ratings at the end of the day. Tour guides also get very close to guests, such as putting on harnesses or helping with scuba gear, so they need to learn the best ways to approach guests while helping them with these important functions. Having a culture of respect is important part of the equation for a successful cruise destination. Aquila was recently asked by cruise lines to look at this subject matter and create a program to address it. This new, short online program gives tour guides the tools they need that speaks to the following topics in creating a culture of respect: • • • • •

Slang, Phrases and Nicknames There are many slang terms, phrases, and nicknames that are offensive. Whether they are directed at a particular race, ethnicity, culture, background, lifestyle or sexual orientation, such slang terms, phrases and nicknames are unacceptable. Come-ons, Solicitations and Innuendos Suggestive comments, come-ons, solicitations, and sexual innuendos are all sexual harassment. These types of language and comments are disrespectful, offensive, and unacceptable.


Comments About Appearance It is not appropriate to comment on a guest’s appearance. Whether it is skin color, ethnic traits, choice of clothing, or another factor of a guest’s appearance, it is not respectful to comment on it. Further, it is very important not to make assumptions on a guest’s personality or preferences based on his or her appearance. Patronizing Comments Avoid comments that are patronizing. Do not look down on anyone or talk down to anyone. Treat all guests fairly and equally, and ensure your comments reflect that fair and equal treatment. Offensive Comments Avoid comments that could offend your guests. Comments about race, ethnicity, religion, lifestyle, culture, background, gender, sexual orientation, or political or other beliefs should be avoided, as they can easily become offensive. Comments About People Avoid talking about people, including your guests, your colleagues and any other people. Whether your comments are intended to be overheard or whether they are meant to be private, talking about others is disrespectful and projects a negative image for guests.

Understanding differences and demonstrating respect Identifying the different types of harassment Ensuring respectful behaviors and interactions with all guests Taking responsibility for a creating a culture of respect Understanding the cruise industry and tour guides’ role in the success of cruise destinations

To give an example by taking one short topic from the course, let’s briefly discuss how a tour guide can be more respectful with language and comments. One of the most important ways we can show respect to our guests is by what we say to them. The words we choose are crucial. We need to be careful with our comments and ensure we are being respectful. For example:

disability. For example, do not assume that a disabled guest requires your help, and instead ask politely if your assistance is needed.

Comments About Age or Ability Comments or actions regarding a person’s age or physical or mental abilities can be offensive, even if intended to be helpful. It is important to be respectful with our comments, and it is just as important not to make assumptions on a guest based on his or her age or a physical or mental

As an industry, it is great to view our differences as a positive and see us all work together to give guests a warm welcome by treating them kindly, fairly and with respect. Learning about diversity and cultural differences helps us to appreciate the diversity of people, recognizing that there is no right or wrong, only differences. The cruise lines and their guests have many expectations of their cruise destinations, and exceeding those expectations is up to each of us! Contact Beth for more information about this program and other training at

Profile for Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association

Travel & Cruise 2nd Quarter 2019