The Skill of a Good Tour Guide

The speaker at our March Monthly Meeting, held on 27 March 2024, was professional tour guide Stephanie Tickner who has the prestigious Blue Badge Guide accreditation. Stephanie started work as a secretary and then tried out being a veterinary nurse, eventually worked as a keeper at London Zoo. She was one of the few women to have worked with elephants there before the elephants were moved out to Whipsnade. In the 1990’s she became a City of London and Blue Badge Guide and since then has concentrated on London and its environs, especially the theatre. She has been a guide to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on Bankside, in Southwark since its early days. She also specialises in the fields of paranormal research, ghosts and ‘earth mysteries’ such as ley-lines and standing stones.

Stephanie described in detail the process of becoming a guide, both for the City of London and for the Blue Badge Guides. There are pitfalls for those unaware, and these included ill-health, having a deputy lined-up for when fate strikes, specialising in fields that are not the most popular, sticking to facts rather than opinions, and the willingness to take on new routes only once they have been thoroughly researched.

Stephanie had much to say about the use of technology while guiding visitors. Sometimes it can work really well when it allows a group to visit a location where intensive work is under way. Other technology can result in members of the public getting the benefit of the guided tour whether they want it or not!

The most difficult elements of the job include trying to prevent visitors succumbing to pick pockets, or visitors getting lost during a visit, and Stephanie offered some interesting ideas on how to handle both occurrences. Clearly, detailed and painstaking preparation and research is essential for a tour to go well, and Stephanie capably demonstrated those skills during her talk to us. The session ended with many questions from the floor.

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