In our series of guide interviews, we speak to Originals tour guide Jack, about designing engaging itineraries, learning new skills, and giving memorable tours. Alongside being a senior guide at See Your City, Jack works on the Harry Potter and Jack the Ripper Originals Walking Tours.
GetYourGuide: Hi Jack. Thanks for joining me today. Can you start by telling me about yourself: how did you get into guiding?
Jack: I moved to London from Manchester 3 years ago and was very involved in theatre and comedy. I was running comedy nights and wrote and performed sketches. A friend introduced to the managers of See Your City and they saw me perform and it went from there. In December 2018 when it was still quite a small team and we only worked on the Harry Potter tour, I became a part-time guide. As the company has grown and offers more tours, I’ve become a full-time Senior Guide.
GetYourGuide: What does the role of a Senior Guide entail?
Jack: Being a Senior Guide is a great opportunity to see the business from a different perspective. It’s allowed me to get much more involved and invested in areas such as customer service, supplier contact, recruiting, scheduling and training guides, amongst other responsibilities. I am particularly pleased that it has allowed me to take on a more creative role in the company, from developing new tours to researching content and rewriting scripts.
GetYourGuide: How did you get the new tour up and running then?
Jack: We knew we wanted to offer the tour in different languages so I sat with guides with different mother tongues, and went through the script together. They translated it specifically for each language, using styles and phrases that worked for that language. It was important to consider how German people would want to hear about Jack the Ripper in German for example.
Once the script was ready, I then did a few trial runs of the tour in situ. Each guide was able to perform their part how they would in reality, which allowed guides to share ideas and styles. We actually changed the itinerary of the tour to make it follow the murders chronologically, making the story easier to understand. Afterward, we discussed the trial run, analyzing what worked, what didn’t, and what could be further improved.
Finally, I gathered a series of photos and images that we uploaded to our tour iPads. These were arranged in chronological order of the tour so it would prompt guides to mention specific things and recount certain stories. It was great fun putting this together and the customers really enjoy the interactive element.
GetYourGuide: Sounds brilliant. I love that you tailored it so much to the customer. Were you already into Harry Potter or Jack the Ripper before you became a guide?
Jack: I had read all the Harry Potter as a kid and I had definitely dressed up as him. When I started guiding, everything came flooding back to me. This was great because on the tour, we do Harry Potter quizzes throughout and it allowed me to come up with lots of obscure questions to ask my groups. As for Jack the Ripper, I didn’t know a lot about him but I had done a Jack the Ripper tour a long time ago and I decided we should do it differently: by making it more interactive, through playing characters, introducing voices, and getting customers involved with the different suspects.
GetYourGuide: Sounds like your theatrical side really comes out on your tours. What do you like about guiding Originals tours?
Jack: I love the merchandise as it really differentiates the tours and helps to make the experience more interactive. We use House Cards on the Harry Potter tour and Suspect Cards on the Jack the Ripper tour which allows customers to almost become detectives on a murder mystery discovery. They are practical too: we can put our names on them so the customer remembers us and has a nice souvenir. The branded element is also great. The visible, orange jacket and flags really make us easily identifiable and make our lives as guides much easier. Customers see us straight away and we don’t have to shout to find our group. We definitely feel that we look better than other guides and we stand out more. On top of that, the quality and style are excellent — the winter coat is particularly warm and cozy.
GetYourGuide: When you are guiding, what do you do that is special or unique for your customers?
Jack: Alongside props and character voices, I make sure that no matter what, I make the experience personal and entertaining. I always mention my name a few times at the start of the tour, so that the group knows I’m approachable and that they can come to me throughout the tour. It also ensures they will remember me and helps when I come to ask for a review at the end of the tour. I use the time at the start of the tour wisely: while waiting for everyone to arrive, I chat with each party and build a rapport with them. I like to involve everyone and create a friendly atmosphere. This helps to build confidence for the interactive tour to follow. I also ask for feedback so that I can constantly improve my offering.
GetYourGuide: Are you doing anything special on your tours for Halloween?
Jack: We’re expecting bookings to increase for Halloween and the autumn holidays as they always do, so we’re planning some advertising for this. It’s a particularly good time to do the Jack the Ripper tour as the murders actually happened between September and November and the time of year provides a perfect atmosphere for retelling the stories. Actually, we’re looking into starting up some new tours in time for Halloween too, for example, dark history tours of Bristol and Manchester with true crime themes. We will tailor these tours to locals who are looking to rediscover their hometowns. We’ve found that more and more people are looking for new things to do in their area and so we are excited to be able to offer them this.
“An incredible experience. In addition to the fascinating story and facts, the guide named Jack was amazing, very charismatic, and obviously a true Ripperologist which made the experience all the more exciting.”
Can’t travel at the moment? Check out See Your City’s online, virtual version of Jack the Ripper Originals tour.
Your Originals team