The Hanuman guides at the end of their training session
Long-serving guide Polrith (left) receives his 1st-aid certificate
As high season approaches, Hanuman has been busy with guide and driver training. Well, training may be a little misleading, as all our guides and drivers are already very well-trained, but we have been holding some refresher workshops and some additional training in other areas where we are now focusing such as Responsible Tourism.
Practical Training : The guide workshop was held in Siem Reap on 11-12 September 2010. About 20 guides were in attendance, including all our permanent guides. The first day was conducted by Jake Corke and Nick Ray. Adventure Manager Jake Corke previously worked as a tour leader for nearly a decade and has trained guides and local tour leaders in the Southeast Asia region for companies such as Explore and Indochina Services. Nick Ray has also worked as a tour leader and lecturer for many years and has been heavily involved in guide training at Hanuman.
Breakout sessions included such topics as what makes a great tour guide and brainstorming on problem solving, including both real and imagined complications. Morning topics included understanding the visitors, customer care and the sanctity of the itinerary. The latter session included an interesting discussion on good changes vs bad changes to itineraries. We reiterated that change for the sake of change is not good for Hanuman or our travel partners, but client-requested changes due to fatigue or desire for more free time are acceptable, as are changes necessitated by unforeseen circumstances such as bad weather or damaged roads. Travelling in some parts of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam remains an adventure as much as a holiday and some degree of flexibility may be required with more complicated itineraries. However, we stressed the need for clear communication with both clients and the operations team at Hanuman so we are in a position to inform our partners at the earliest possible opportunity.
The afternoon session included presentations on responsible guiding and the dos and don’ts of interacting with clients. This led on to Responsible Tourism and discussion on the sort of projects we support at Hanuman, including ecotourism initiatives. Jake finished off this session with a broad introduction to our adventure itineraries, including cycling, trekking and Temple Safaris.
The day ended with a long session on the sharing of information and clarity of communication, including the subject of daily briefings on the itinerary. We suggested the simple rules we have always used as tour leaders, which is clear and concise information at the relevant times. Brief at the end of the day on the following day’s programme. Brief in the morning on the day ahead. Brief after lunch on the afternoon activities. Be especially clear about timings with a group and repeat the time if necessary.
We also covered talks and the sort of subjects that are interesting to visitors. One of the key points was for the guides to try and learn about the interests of their clients so they would be able to deliver information accordingly. For example a doctor may be interested in learning more about the healthcare system in Cambodia (or lack thereof) and enjoy a drop-in visit to the Angkor Hospital for Children. We suggested guides think about the location of any talks (shady, quiet), the length of the talk (are guests looking sleepy?) and the quality of delivery. To this end we stressed the value of asking questions themselves sometimes. Do you understand me? Do you want to know more about this place?
The guide training session over, we took the guides to Samot Siem Reap, a local restaurant and beer garden. The mood was good and the feedback was that the training had gone very well. Much had been learnt and they felt that Hanuman was the best of the only local companies investing in this type of event.
Operations Training: The second day of training was more formal and involved the communication of policy and general guidelines. The Guide Charter was revisited to ensure all guides were happy with the contents and understood what they were signing each time they agreed to look after a Hanuman client. The Guide Charter has been well-received by guides, as it has encouraged them to share any concerns they have with the itinerary in advance of the trip. Here at Hanuman we believe we are very proactive in advising on improvements or changes that can be made to itineraries and the Guide Charter ensures our tour guides have a part to play in this process.
Drivers were also present at the training on the second day. This was in part to ensure that all drivers were up-to-date on new traffic rules that have come into effect in Cambodia, but also to brief them on good customer care throughout the tour. Finally, it was useful to ensure guides and drivers remember that they are part of a team and both need to work together to ensure the best possible customer experience.
First Aid Training : 10 of our permanent guides and drivers were then enrolled on a three-day International Red Cross first aid training course. Designed to international standards, this course covered the basics of first aid, as well as more serious intervention in the event of an accident. This included an introduction to the ABC of first aid – airway, breathing and circulation – as well as learning about the importance of not moving a serious accident victim in case of shock and the recovery position.
Childsafe: We have also been conducting extensive training with guides, drivers and operations staff on the importance of vigilance against abuse of children and helping to prevent them being placed in abusive situations. Childsafe is a regional campaign run by Mith Samlanh, the NGO behind Friends Restaurant in Phnom Penh and Mak Phet Restaurant in Vientiane, which also happen to be two of our most popular Responsible Tourism visits in the region. Childsafe trains tourism personnel to be child aware and look out for children in potentially vulnerable situations with foreign visitors. The training is designed to help our team become aware of the dangers children face, especially children on the streets. Childsafe has also provided guidance on how to make a real difference by creating positive behaviours when coming face to face with a child in a risk situation. Hanuman is proud to be part of ChildSafe’s growing network. For more on the work of Childsafe, visit http://www.childsafe-international.org/.