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My name is Rob Franklin, the proud owner and operator of Walking Legends Guided Walks.I would like to answer a question we (happily) get asked all the time but first a little background...
My guiding career began at the age of 19 in the southern alps of New Zealand and after learning the trade I moved home to the volcanoes and rainforests of New Zealands north island and founded my own business walking legends . Now 17 years on I'm the one responsible for finding, hiring and ‘giving guides a shot’ at this dream job. And I must be alright at finding the talent because the number one question I get asked by our clientele is, “where do you find your awesome guides?
I'm under no illusion that our (Walking Legends) guides are the only guides with super-human customer service skills and unshakable great attitudes to life in general, so let this serve as a shout out to amazing guides everywhere!
Although the question I'm usually asked is "where do you find your great guides", I think the more apt question is, how do our guides get to be this awesome. Or how does someone who rose before dawn, cook, clean, carry, organize, administer first-aid, inform, inspire, and generally take care of every detail of the lives of a dozen souls day after day rain or shine, without breaking stride or losing their smiley disposition? and what planet do they come from?
There is no real secret or special training although I'm sure their mothers and fathers did an exceptional job. When looking for a guide I look for confidence,practicality and easygoing people skills. The most important part of the interview process is how quickly we can achieve relaxed conversation over a cup of tea (not always easy at a job interview) Then we want to hear about their past adventures and how they handled the situations when these adventures didn't quite go to plan. Next I angle the questioning toward their reason for wanting the work.. Any answer that includes a love of people and a passion for the outdoors is acceptable!
Some of our guides have had Tertiary education in adventure tourism for up to three years, this is a huge plus but no substitute for a great attitude, personalty and a passion for the outdoors.
Once interviewees have pass the "cup-a-tea test" we begin training them up, here is where we take a little credit. Having great training, systems and tools is what let's guides preform their daily miracles with style and good humor. From my own experience I know guides can only do their best work if they are well prepared and can be proud of the service they deliver from the Vehicles they use to the food they prepare and the stories they share.
But wait.,.. I've still only given half of what makes guides so damn ....um?... Dynamic!
Another huge factor in how walking/adventure guides can take customer service to new levels has got to do with the clients themselves, our hikers!
Please excuse the cliche but its completely true. The only way we as guides could keep bringing the passion day after day year after year is because of the first class clientele we entertain!. Ive worked at the front line in many customer service roles and many of the of the interactions left me deflated and disillusioned with the public. Multi day hikers however are a cut above! The average multi day hiker is, in my opinion some what an enlightened soul striding past the gift shop and roadside attractions ready to forgo daily comforts and endure physical exertion with the hope of discovery, They come humble and ready to accept the weather and the terrain as it is and they come ready to make the most of any situation.
Hosting such people can be a real joy an opportunity to share our knowledge with passionate listeners and thinkers and their appreciation inspires and rewards all efforts. I find that,by the end of the trip when everyone has won each others friendship the guide can feel reluctant to accept the praise and thanks of what was truly a team effort!
So.. To hard working guides every where.. Thanks for the passion and be sure to enjoy every moment, you may never be fitter than you are now,you may never be surrounded by as much appreciation,positivity or laughter and you will certainly remember these longest working days as some of the best you had!
And to the walkers and adventurers who join them if your guide was filled with unlimited energy and enthusiasm your positivity made it possible a perfect example of getting out what you put in. Keep it up!
Thanks to all involved for an extraordinary career and incredible memories!
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