VUSSC/Content/Tourism/Applying Effective Communication Skills/What is Communication?

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Effective Communication

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After completing this section, you should be able to:
  • Define effective communication
  • State the reasons for communicating in a tour guiding context

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Think about the last time you chatted with a friend.
  • Was your message clearly understood?
  • What do you think effective communication means?
  • Take a few minutes to jot down your ideas.
  • At the end of this section, try again to explain in your own words, what you think effective communication means.
  • Compare your initial definition with your new response and observe if your ideas have changed

1.1 What is communication?

First, let us look at how other people have defined communication.

You may look at this link from a wikipedia entry: definitions

You may identify the different key words used to define communication in the above entry. In this course we define communication as the act of sending and receiving intended messages. Effective communication implies verifying that the receiver has understood the message as intended and that a subsequent response is observed. It is something that tour guides do every day, so how a tour guide communicates is very important. We will now briefly define other concepts that are specific to communication in a tour guiding context.

1.2 Reasons for communicating

As a tour guide, communication will be your basic tool in performing all your daily functions. Read the following suggested reasons for communicating in a tour guiding context. Then you may wish to tackle the activities which follow, which are based on some of the main reasons you may have for communicating in tour guiding.

To inform, clarify and advise. You will use communication to present your country to tourists. As a tour guide you will have to answer many questions, handle queries and present information to tourists. Among these types of information will be :

  • giving directions and commentaries;
  • explaining procedures and itineraries;
  • providing advice on safety and security; and
  • describing tourist attractions.

Communication will also help you inform the tour group to prepare themselves for the tour, through relevant advice on personal belongings for a tour, preventative medicines and available services at tourist destinations. It will also help you to avoid confusion and misunderstandings. Sometimes there are unexpected events that can force the tour guide to change plans, and these changes of plans have to be communicated to the tour group as soon as possible, to get consensus on alternative itineraries.

To promote and persuade . Communication is also the tool you’ll use to promote the tourism products and services of your country, such as the destinations and events they will visit and enquire about. Remember, tourists visit your country in order to see what attractions the country has to offer and to perceive and experience the country from your perspective. As a tour guide, therefore, it will be your responsibility to motivate and reinforce the tourist’s interest in your country. Your commentaries are the « eye » through which tourists will see the country and you are the representative of the people of your country.

To build relationships. How well you communicate with your tour group will determine the success of the tour and how successful you are in your career as a tour guide. Conversations help to develop rapport which will build interpersonal relationships This is important for sustaining the tourism activities.

To evaluate your services. Communication will enable you to collect relevant feedback from the tourists with a view to gauging the interests and expectations of the tourists. This feedback obtained can be communicated to all concerned. From this you will be able to explore ways of improving subsequent tour activities.

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You may take your time and reorganise the above reasons starting with those you feel are the most important.

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Below is an excerpt from a conversation a tour guide had with one of the tourists in his tour group. Read it carefully and then answer the questions that follow.

On Tuesday, Satish conducted a tour for a group of 13 tourists from different countries from around the world. He took them on a tour of a sugar museum and botanical gardens. During the luncheon break he started chatting with one of the tourists, Sue:

Satish: Hey Sue. Where are you from again?

Sue: Oh I’m from Trinidad and Tobago…a beautiful place... like yours.

Satish: Do you know that today is a national holiday here? It is a Christian holiday celebrating the assumption of the Virgin Mary. ‘Cause we are multicultural, we celebrate numerous religious festivals.

Sue: Oh really? So do we! In my country since we have lots of Hindus, Muslims,and Christians we have a whole host of religious festivals as well. For example we have something called Hosay – a Hindu festival. Do you know it?


  1. Does the above communication form part of the job of a tour guide?
  2. What do you think were the reasons for the above communication. List at least 2 reasons and justify your response.