The Benefits and Impact of Having a Strong Tour Theme

A tour theme is one of the most important ingredients and yet is often missing from tours.

Prefer to listen & watch?  This article has a video version.

One of my favorite formulas from Sam H Ham’s ‘Interpretation’ is his TORE Model which says that, in order to be effectively communicated, a tour must;

  • have a Theme
  • be Organized
  • be Relevant
  • be Entertaining

The beauty in this is that you don’t have to leave your tour up to chance (great weather, a group that gets along well, the information and questions just flow…). You have control to consistently get your guests engaged in your tour material.

​In this article, I’ll define what exactly a tour theme is, how to craft one and how to add it into your tour.

Two hands draw a strategy on a whiteboard

Share this article

The difference between a theme & a topic.

Your tour’s topic is what the tour is about. It’s the subject material. Maybe your tour is about the ancient Romans or the history of Ellis Island.

Your tour’s theme is much deeper.

It’s your point. It’s what you want your guests to discover with you and think about long after the tour has finished.

For example, the theme of that tour about the ancient Romans might be; “Much of modern-day Italian culture can be traced back to traditions created by the ancient Roman civilization.”

The theme should tie together all of the material you choose to include.

What makes a good theme?

A strong theme should;

  • spark your guests to consider something new (or to look at something in a different way).
  • create questions for your guests, prompting them to want to know more.
  • be concise, keep it to one sentence which will make it easier for your guests to understand (as a more complicated theme might not be as obvious).

Keep in mind, themes can be personal.

Depending on how you build your tours, different guides might have different themes for the same tour (the content is still the same, but their big call to action or connection to the material might be different).

Related articles:

How to deliver your theme.

There are various methods for delivering a theme, but my favorite way is simple to announce it in the end (making it a part of your ‘big finish‘). It’s a great way to sum everything up for your guests and to create an ‘aha’ moment for them.

Bonus- Theme Building exercise for guides

Having guides come up with themes for tours they already give is a great exercise. Have them do it during a team meeting where they can share the theme they’ve created with the entire group (inspiring some other guides to adjust their own themes).

Simply have guides answer this question (that was shared with me by Jason K of Tour Guyswho’s also Sam H Ham obsessed…) about each tour they give;
“At the end of this tour, it is important that my guests understand _________.”

Was this article useful?

Once a month I send out any new articles + travel news I’m following.

Share this article

2021-12-28T17:18:25-04:00October 6th, 2020|