The changing face of the tour guide: One-way communicator to choreographer to co-creator of the tourist experience

Betty Weiler, Rosemary Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Thirty years after Cohen's seminal work on tour guiding, the role(s) played by and skills required of tour guides continue to evolve. As ‘experience’ has come to be considered central to tourism, research on the guide as communicator and experience-broker has expanded. Guides broker experience in at least four domains – physical access, understanding, encounters and empathy. This conceptual paper examines, via the literature particularly on the mediatory and brokering roles of the tour guide and its intersections with social, economic and political trends, how and why the guide's role is changing. Together these bodies of literature on guiding and on societal trends are used to underpin a typology of future guided tour experiences distinguished by the target market, style of guiding and use of communication, with varying outcomes for the tourist. To meet the needs and expectations of twenty-first century tourists and the challenges of the global communication environment, tour guides need to become more highly skilled experience-brokers, including embracing technology to choreograph memorable experiences. To satisfy tourists in search of personalized and meaningful experiences, guides in some cases need to actively engage tourists in the co-creation of their own guided tour experiences. The typology provides a management and research framework for examining these relationships and their consequences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-378
Number of pages15
JournalTourism Recreation Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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