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Historic House Call: Creating Engaging and Memorable Tours

by Dale Jones on

Historic House Call: Creating Engaging and Memorable Tours Webinar

January 30 @ 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm EST

Register for the webinar here.

Contribute to a short survey (four questions) to help identify reasons why some guided tours are boring at historic houses and other museums and sites. Click here.

Historic house guided tours can have a reputation as boring. There is no other way to put it. Here are two recent reviews from Trip Advisor:

Most Boring Tour Guide Imaginable!

  • If you enjoy listening to a tour guide speak in a monotone, eyes closed while giving her memorized dialogue, then by all means, take this tour. We were stifling yawns and our eyes were glazing over.

Speed-Talk

  • If you have ever been to an auction, you would have been right at home on our tour. It was like our tour guide was trying to squeeze 2 hours’ worth of information into a one hour tour. Enthusiasm was lacking in her presentation, also.

 

Jeff Neale, stableyards interpreter at Middleton Place, Charleston SC, finishes the best tour I have ever taken at an historic site.

Jeff Neale, stableyards interpreter at Middleton Place, Charleston SC, finishes the best tour I have ever taken at an historic site.

 

When asked about bad tours like these, many museum professionals shrug their shoulders and say “We need the tour guides to keep the site open and to offer tours for visitors and groups. We have some great guides – but you just have to grit your teeth and put up with the bad ones. It’s a problem, but what can you do?”

Yes, it is a very big problem. Tours that don’t engage either adults or children can be a real drag on historic houses. If a visitor has an unsatisfying, dull tour, they won’t return or encourage others to visit. They may, however, let people know that the tour was not good and post on social media, as in the Trip Advisor reviews above.

The ripples from bad tours also affect other sites. After one or even more bad experiences, visitors will think twice about subjecting themselves, or their children and friends, to a potentially bad tour at another site. It’s not worth the risk to waste time – and money.

Boring tours can diminish reputations, attendance, and revenue – from loss of admission, shop sales, and even donors.

While that sounds bleak, it doesn’t have to be that way. Just as a boring tour can give visitors a lasting negative impression, so too can an engaging tour provide a lasting positive impression.

That’s the upside of a good tour. Visitors have a great experience and want to share it with others. Just as you enjoy telling others about a fantastic tour, so do visitors. By regularly offering visitors engaging tours you can create goodwill ambassadors who promote your site – for free!

Fortunately, there are effective strategies and techniques for delivering engaging, meaningful tours –all supported by recent research.

Join us from 2:00-3:15 pm EST on January 30, to find out how to create engaging tours that lead visitors to connect with your site and spread the word about their great experience.

Register for the webinar here.

Click here to contribute to a short survey (four questions) to help identify reasons why some guided tours are boring at historic houses and other museums and sites.

Dale Jones is founder and principal of Making History Connections, member of AASLH for over 25 years, founding member of AASLH Visitor Voices Committee, and co-editor of History News Spring 2007 issue on Evaluation.

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