Life of a Tour Guide: How I Managed Myself when with Difficult Guests

Admittedly, after shifting my career into guiding tourists in the Philippines, I feared that I might have the worst behavior when I will be with difficult people, most especially to my clients – the tourists. Although we were trained, but not fully about personality wise, the psychological effect towards dealing with different people is beyond my control. I sure was not well-equipped with emotions in knowing and understanding each person’s behavior, character and attitude.

This kind of training is not adaptable mainly by theories, but by daily experiences with different people I meet along the way, may it be from local people I work with or with the guests I’m guiding. Each day delivers unique situation regardless of its location.

Imitating an Asian pose with the Belgian Ladies

It was at first difficult on my part, I have to understand and most of all be flexible to the people’s needs. I feed myself with the idea that I am a mediator of this tourism life, thus, I need to be adaptable. But, that being said, I did not force myself to become as one, instead, I embraced each moment in order for me to learn what and how does an adaptable person mean. Unconsciously, this kind of attitude just sets me to who I am today, it turns out that I am capable of being who I want to be.

How did I become myself when with difficult people?


Listening to the people I work with is the first thing I could advise. When I learned the difference between hearing and listening, I then knew how to open widely my ears that can hear and most importantly, my mind & heart that could understand the importance of listening. I keep on hearing about the difference of this but never have I taken seriously for work. This time, with the numerous situations I encountered, this words even in a very small detail, I mastered to shelter myself the importance of listening and the willingness to understand it each time.

For instance, there are clients or guests who talk a lot and are as well, a vigorous researcher for the places they wanted to visit, a tour guide should be mindful of this. With this situation, it can make a tour guide feel as if the guests don’t really want the guide to guide them, the tendency is, the clients who murmur or talk a lot can sometimes lead to various complaints and worst is more arguments. This is where I am more sensitive in a positive way, I listen very carefully the clients so I would be able to know how to satisfy them fully of their needs and wants. For me, interrupting the guests would just mean disrespecting them, I learned the hard way to just hear the word the clients will say, and just talk whenever they give you the time to speak, which is the best time to share what I can suggest and what options should be taken.

Leading the tour with the bike.

Learn to Compromise!

"Compromise, according to google is an agreement or settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions."

I first started to work at an early age, “to compromise” became a good practice for work and reasonable observation came in. I managed to make it as a habit, it was a practice that grows positively on my part, but, when I work outside my field – as a tour guide, things changed more for a better “me” because of the experience that I learned.

I somehow struggled to compose myself on how to compromise when I serviced my 20th client. It was in the middle of nowhere in the south of Palawan, I simply had a hard time compromising with the family of 6, they complain a lot even just for a cup of coffee. Small things that can be handled so well, it was devastating to them. I, on the other side, lost my patience and felt that my self-esteem, self-confidence had lost its way. On our third day, while preparing myself for an early morning call time, I got distracted by the way they reacted to all of us who works for them, they hated the way the service that was given to them from all us in the team, called me a very “hard” person, which means a person who stubbornly gives reasoning. I could not think so well, on how should I manage the way they acted, I argued, I shouted the same time they shouted at me. I came to realize while they shouted with their forefingers pointed near my eyes, that I should just keep myself shut about all these things. It was the worst argument I ever had in my life. I shuddered, unyielding for a couple of minutes as it will save my nerve racking hatred at that moment. Until they calm down, it was then that I composed myself, compromised and negotiated very well for what should we need to do next. The last conversation was an agreement of not having any choice on their part. I politely gave them a couple of options, after which, they cite their own option and needs. We collaborated together with the people we worked with. Compromise, not only getting involved on one side but should be taken by both sides. As a tour guide, the worst argument can lead to nothing without a tour guide’s immediate understanding.

Cute Swiss Kid in Siquijor

Be Patient. Period.

"Without Patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less." - Mother Teresa

One thing that I gained from my trainer Carmel was to never forget how to be patient. During my 8 days training, I observed how being patient can be tested daily, most especially with very difficult guests. Sure enough, that being patient is not only for work, but also in our everyday life, but, considering that you will face and meet people from different cultures is absolutely contrasting. Patience is truly an armor for us tour guides from the beginning of the journey of the guests until the time they departed from this country. At first meeting, orientation serves a good start up to know more of the new guests. Those first few days, I call it as my observation days and making sure I supplied them with full information. However, the attitude is by far distinctly, you need to observe, I normally ask various questions which can actually help me know them more. Through this, my patience should be intact from DAY 1. I stamped my mind, that client’s satisfaction is the main purpose of what I am doing, there might be massive torn of situations, nevertheless, being patient should be prioritized to remain intact. So be Patient… PERIOD… regardless of the what ifs, what should have been or what might be.

To summarize the life of a tour guide, the behavior of a tour guide is vital in all aspects and situation to the world of tourism.

Have you hired a tour guide? How was your experience?

P.S. Thank you to my Trainer Carmel for sharing her experiences with me. You Rock!

READ: My Story to Date: What Happened After Quitting Tour Guiding Job

Traveling to the Philippines Soon? Get a Help from a Travel Consultant Ferna, click here for details.

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Author: Ferna Mae

Ferna is a spontaneous traveler from the Philippines who had a great experience traveling her own country first before she embarked to other countries. She thrives to be more independent in her own skin. Connect with her at

6 thoughts on “Life of a Tour Guide: How I Managed Myself when with Difficult Guests

  1. Hi Ferna! Didn’t know you were a tour guide. I have high regard for guides so kudos! It’s really a tough job, but an enjoyable one, nonetheless! Cheers to you and more power!

  2. It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and
    it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could
    I wish to suggest you few interesting things or tips.
    Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article.
    I want to read even more things about it!

    1. Hi Chrinstine, thank you. I surely will post few interesting tips in the future. I’d love more suggestions if you have also. I’m glad it’s a perfect timing. 🙂

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