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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Make Your Tour Guide Happy

When I sat down with tour guide Bob last month, he had so much great stuff to say that I didn't even get to share all of it with you. I wanted to include a couple more choice quotes from him, including some instruction on how to be a good tour taker and a story about a cupcake business that has become a New York City institution.

How to Take a Tour

I like to ask the tour guides if they have any fun stories or any memorable or favorite tour groups from their time as a guide. This can turn into celebrity stories, like with Barri, but it can also turn into a discussion about different types of tour groups that come through...



"I did a private tour for Foods of New York several years ago. It was 4 couples, and they were all personal friends of the man who created Crumbs cupcakes. He was a stay-at-home dad who did these baking projects with his kids, and he would bring his cupcakes wherever they were invited, and someone found out about it. And when Crumbs started going viral -- you found them all over the place -- was after they had bought his recipes from him. So he did quite well. And these were 4 old friends of his."

If you can't tell, Bob is a serious font of facts on all things New York. It's kind of an honor to hear him discuss these topics; I kind of feel like he's forgotten more information than I've ever known.

"I've had a lot of really interesting people on my tour. It's sometimes hard to pinpoint all of them. But sometimes you find a person or a couple that just bonds with you, and they just make the whole group meld together. Because you get some groups that... they just stare at you. And you wonder is it you? Or are they not a very happy group? But my group today were the nicest people. It was a conglomeration: mother and daughter from Atlanta, 8 people altogether, one had their six month old baby and he was terrific, half of the women and the men were in the Army and had met in Germany and they meet once a year to do these things. You get those groups, and those are the best groups: where everyone starts talking to everyone else."

There you have it! If you want to be a better tour taker, take an interest in your fellow group members. It makes sense; the tour guides already know the whole tour, it's probably nice for them to get to know you a little bit, as well.


What Sets Foods of New York Tours Apart?

I have yet to ask this in one of my interviews because the answer always comes up in conversation regardless. For Bob, not surprisingly, it's all about the history and culture we talk about on our tours, and I find it hard to disagree.

"We get amazing reviews commenting on the history. And that's what I think makes Foods of New York Tours so unique. Because we're not in the business to make a quick buck by shoveling food in people's mouths. We talk about every business, what makes them unique, we talk about the uniqueness of the food, and then we talk about the unique history of every neighborhood we're in. I always tell them I could stand on a corner in the Meatpacking district and just talk for 3 hours and not move from that spot."

This beautiful photo taken by tour taker Scott Wyden shows the
different brickwork on buildings in Greenwich Village.

That's not all that makes our tours successful, though.

"Something that Todd has always taught all of us is how to gauge the groups to make the tour a success." Bob explained that some groups don't care about the history and just want to eat, some want to spend time window shopping, and it's important to take notice of this and follow their lead. After all, the tours he gives are not about him but about the tour takers, and successfully taking note of this (instead of fighting it) makes everyone come away with a better experience.

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