Engaging tour-goers: How to make your tours more interesting and interactive
There may not be a chocolate waterfall or Oompa Loompas at your facility, but by engaging tour-goers, you’ll be providing a memorable and positive experience of your organization. You will also:
- Enhance the public’s image of your department or agency.
- Better educate the public on the work you do and services you provide.
- Connect with people and learn about their needs, concerns and opinions.
When preparing to host any type of welcoming tour, it’s important to tailor the presentation to your audience. Ask yourself:
- Who is my audience, and how can I cater to their physical and intellectual needs?
- What information is important for the public to know or understand, and what information will the public expect?
- What methods can be used to encourage the public to attend?
Who is my audience, and how can I cater to their physical and intellectual needs?
Each tour should be unique and tailored to its audience as visitors will vary by age, background, interest and purpose. Keeping this in mind, you will need to design your tours and activities to be flexible, scalable, age-specific and interest-appropriate. Here are some quick ideas to consider:
Physical needs—You’ve likely already considered ADA requirements, but remember to accommodate those who require additional assistance or have special needs. Ensure that your tours include brail versions of print material, accommodate all levels of physical aptitude and offer sign language interpreters as needed.
Activities—All tours should include interactivity to add interest and keep visitors engaged. Design them to also be flexible based on the audience’s age and limitations. For example, are you providing a tour of city hall? Create a mock city council meeting and assign visitors a role. Give them a case study to act out and learn how challenging public decisions can be. Are you a fire station? Conduct a fire drill or a hands-on demonstration with visitors learning to work a water hose. Maybe you’re a county services agency? Plan a panel discussion to allow visitors to ask questions and engage in budget conversations
What information is important for the public to know or understand, and what information will the public expect?
Your audience is seeking information about the services you provide, how you provide them and the impact of those services on the public. But, be forewarned! They would much rather receive this information in a creative and entertaining manner than a series of rattled-off facts. Try these methods:
- Train guides—Many tours are guided by volunteers or staff members. Some people simply have a knack of dealing with the public, while others struggle to be animated. Provide a training session that involves delivery of information, non-verbal and verbal cue recognition. College drama students might be a great and affordable resource to help with some animation exercises!
- Go digital—Upload pertinent information as podcasts and provide tour-goers with an MP3 player and their own take-home set of imprinted earbuds. Generate a virtual experience online for those tech-savvy visitors by setting up virtual company tours on your website.
- Ask for feedback—To improve your tours and the information provided, ask for visitors’ feedback. The easiest is usually through a survey form at the end of the tour. Allow for anonymous feedback to be given and then thank them with Emergency Guides for taking the time to complete the questionnaire.
What methods can be used to encourage the public to attend?
Your facility’s secrets are probably as well kept as Willy Wonka’s factory. You need to get the word out that tours are available and invite the public to participate.
- Include tour dates and times on printed promotional material, your website and community news calendars.
- Send teasers to select audiences. For young students, send their schools Fire Safety Coloring Books and invite teachers to plan a class tour. For seniors, imprint a tour registration phone number and “Come see our facility” on microfiber Eye Glass Cleaners and hand them out at local senior centers.
Consider sweetening your next tour by engaging your audiences and capturing their attention. Add interactivity and hands-on activities during the tour and solicit feedback to help you improve. Before you know it, your tours will be your Golden Ticket to success!