Tour Guides and Their Concern for Villagers in Laos
Judith Schneider describes the way how Khiri Travel makes sure that our visits to the villages are welcomed by the communities and benefit all parties involved.
At the time of writing, Judith was Operations and Customer Relations Manager, Khiri Travel, Laos —
In the Khiri Laos guide meeting day last Saturday (June 16) in Luang Prabang, we discussed the current changes and future plans of the Khiri family with our guides. Khiri’s core values – passion, trust, entrepreneurial innovation, think globally, acting locally — were debated and how it relates to their work.
We also discussed the important factors for travelers satisfaction. It was particularly nice to hear one of the guides saying, “My clients are my family.” That is how he is treating them. And that’s how it should be. Besides the topics of health and safety, product development, alms giving to Buddhist monks, a new list of Luang Prabang sights (including galleries and evening options) were all presented. There are many new options for Luang Prabang city tours. An important part of the meeting was the discussion on the new Village Visits Guidelines.
There was some great input from our guides. Somphong, Thongchan and Kamlex were the most outspoken. Helping villagers and when (or not) to take photographs of villagers were keenly debated. Khiri Travel and our guides are very enthusiastic to help the villagers. The debate was just about the best way to do it. The upshot is that Khiri will soon put into practice new guidelines to ensure greater benefit for the villages that Khiri visits. After consulting with the local communities, we will distribute the guidelines to our Khiri staff, local guides, and agents very soon.
A memorable part of the meeting was when Keuy, the General Manager of the Traditional Arts & Ethnological Centre of Luang Prabang, gave a presentation about the tribes of Laos. The numerous tribes of Laos are even more complex than I had realized. It is hard to explain this complexity in a few sentences to clients. But that is part of the challenge and the enjoyment. With deeper appreciation comes deeper respect.
We then had lunch at a great local restaurant on the Mekong river (our job has its perks). It was a perfect end to the meeting. It was a very rewarding way to get to know members of our team even more. It is a privilege to work with our guides. They are knowledgeable and friendly. They care – and they are eager to learn and improve. All of that is useful because Khiri prides itself on being flexible in order to realize our clients’ holiday dreams. Our guide training and dialogue morning reminded me how fortunate I am to work in Laos.
Judith Schneider Grew up in the Tyrolian Alps, always been involved in tourism through a family hotel, extensive backpacking travels in off seasons around the world. Has lived in France, Spain, Germany, England, also gaining the language skills. She attended the MA Responsible Tourism Management course at the International Centre for Responsible Tourism in 2010/2011. Judith worked as Operations and Customer Relations Manager for Khiri Travel from 2011 to 2012 and has a special interest in responsible village tourism.