Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a tour guide in Southeast Asia?
Today we talk to Mr. YAE VAR –Tour guide in Laos about his experience working for ASIA DMC, his tips when travelling during the festive season and the best places to visit.
1. How did you begin your journey as a tour guide?
When I decided to become a tour guide and to be paid to travel, I knew that English would be the first thing I need. So, I spent most of my time in college to study it. After graduating, I enrolled for a tour guide training course. During that time, I had the chance to learn from many experienced senior tour guides, not only about how to gather information on the destinations, cultures and traditions, but also ont the clients and how to meet their needs and expectations.
2. Being a tour guide means that you have to deal with different people from different cultures, backgrounds and expectations and you need to be upbeat and full of energy for long days. What keeps you motivated? What is the most rewarding outcome of this job?
Being a tour guide, I have the chance to meet people from all over the world and I can learn a lot from them. However, there are many challenges due to the cultural differences. Therefore, when I have a group, I will try to understand them first. In my opinion, first impression is very important, so I always take time to study their profiles the day before. When I pick them up at the airport, I can recognise them easily. After we arrive to the hotel, I explain the itinerary and give them details on what to prepare, what to wear, what the weather is like, etc. Being well-prepared is the first step to having a good tour.”
The most rewarding feeling I have is when I see a smile on the face of my clients during the trip. I have the feeling that I’m doing something good, not just for me but for others - for my clients and for my country too. Those of us in tourism industry, who are in direct contact with travellers from all over the world, are somehow representing our country. For that reason, I also have a great responsibility to deliver the best of my country to my clients and to help them create great memories thanks to exceptional experiences. . I take a lot of pleasure in the fact that I don’t feel their ultimate satisfaction as a burden, but rather find enjoyment in having this responsibility.
3. Is there a memorable highlight during your time at ASIA DMC that you would like to share with us?
Actually, I have a lot of great memories working here. Since ASIA DMC is one of the best DMCs in Southeast Asia, the moment I got this job was like a dream come true. I joined the company when it still was HG Travel so I know it well. A lot of my friends also work here and many colleagues have become my good friends. The company is now like a second family to me.
4. Along with the high season are many festivals and events in the upcoming months. What are your tips you would give to anyone visiting Laos to avoid the touristic crowd but also enjoy the best of the destination?
For Laos, the high season runs from November to March and coincide with many Buddhist festivals and New Year Festival of the Hmong and Kamu people. Even in cities as busy as Luang Prabang and Vientiane during festivals, there are still hundreds of charming areas that remain relatively peaceful. When they travel, what my clients really want is to experience is authentic culture, not other visitors. And yet, they also need to visit a city’s highlights and to enjoy its main attractions. So I will advise my clients to rise early and get to the main attractions before everyone does so they can enjoy the precious moments to admire the site in the sunrise and leave before the crowds come. During the day, they stay off the beaten track and visit other places of interest, to meet the locals and get a glimpse at their daily life and customs. You know, just because a temple is lesser known doesn’t mean that it is less attractive or there isn’t something wonderful to discover.
5. In your opinion what does it take to make the tour standout?
There are a lot things involved in making a great tour; it’s not a one-person job, but the teamwork of many people, many departments who all have the same purpose: not only to meet the client’s expectations but to exceed them. From product to operation teams, from the drivers to the tour guide, everyone has to work closely and to support each other to deliver the best experience.