The expertise of a travel guide often plays a big role in determining the success of your trip. So, find a trusted one! But what are the characteristics or signs of a qualified and trusted travel guide? Well, you can listen to the following.
When I went to Singapore some time ago, I talked a lot with a travel guide about the industry he was working in. His name is Wong Siu Huang, we used to call Fern. He’s been working as a travel guide for 18 years. Various traveling agendas and various guest characters have been handled. And as it turns out, being a travel guide in a country like Singapore is not easy. Not everyone can and can, because there must be a license to become a travel guide.
And the license was only issued by the state, after Fern took the course and passed the exam. I thought, no wonder our trip in Singapore could be more organized and tidy. And most importantly, timely and fun! In the end, I asked Fern about how, anyway, is the guide looking for a trusted travel guide? Fern gave some explanations.
1. Check permissions
In Singapore, being a native or having permanent residency is not enough to allow you to become a travel guide. A travel guide in Singapore, whether undergoing it full-time or part-time, requires an operating permit. As I told you earlier, this permit is issued by the government after someone has attended various trainings. The exercises cover languages, communication, and etiquette.
If you pass, someone just gets permission. But not forever. Singapore’s travel guide work permit is only valid for three years, and must be renewed afterwards. So when you want to rent a travel guide service for your trip, surely he has a work permit. At the very least, you reduce the risk of being fooled by a fake guide.
2. See flying hours
Ask your prospective guide about the clients he or she has worked with. What his travel plans are like, what his clients look like, whether he’s ever handled international tourists, and so on. You should be critical up front, rather than sorry later.
In Singapore, Fern said a travel guide should collect flying hours. It’s like a pilot. And that number of working hours will affect whether or not the operating license is extended. So, they can’t just work if they want to.
3. ID card
While accompanying us in Singapore, Fern always wore her ID card. This is good, because in addition to looking professional, the card will make it easier when driving tourists to certain tourist destinations that require bureaucracy. And what makes it more efficient is that every tourist location in Singapore recognizes the card, as it is issued by the state.
4. See the specifications
Travel guides in Singapore cannot handle just about any guest, as each of them takes permission with a particular speciality. Fern, for example, specializes in Indonesian and Chinese tourists. “So, I have to learn Bahasa Indonesia, and understand anything that Indonesians love,” he explained. The specialization also means he is prohibited from taking European or American guests, for example, although a travel guide can still add to their specialization. “We have to learn the language again, then the exam again,” he explained.
It’s like a doctor taking a specialist. From your side as a service user, it can have a positive impact. Because that means, they are the guides who have spent quite a lot of time learning about you.
5. Related insights
My impression of talking to Fern was like talking to a library. He knows things about Singapore, past history, city building, the latest hospitals, the train station (again!) under construction, the best restaurants, and of course, where to buy your hands.
For Fern, updating knowledge about those things is very important and not negotiable. Try to ‘test’ your potential guide before hiring his/her services. From there, imagine if you had to spend all day with him. Check out what your instincts say.
Often, the success or not of a journey depends on the efficiency of time. Handling one tourist is certainly very different from handling a group of tourists. And dealing with a businessman is certainly different from handling a journalist. A skilled travel guide will know what his clients’ travel priorities are. So, in addition to being a timekeeper who ensures everything runs efficiently, in times of emergency he can propose which agendas need to be implemented, and which ones can be missed. Have a good trip!