Wine tours with groups always raise some uncomfortable questions: will I have a great tour day, will I have inconvenient people in the group that create a bad atmosphere, will the guide pay more attention to other people than to me, can the guide control the different dynamics of the group?
All these questions are normal, especially when we are about to leave our comfort zone. However, I would like to bring here what has been our experience in the last 9 years of working also with groups in wine tours.
First of all the groups that The Best Portugal works with are by nature intrinsic to wine tours, small. They are couples or small groups of friends of 2/3 elements and for that reason, there is practically no possibility of people getting away from the conversation that is being had in the group or forming small groups separated from the common interest that in this case are the trips, the wine, the food, and the people.
Then we think that the people in the group might be different and prove to be a problem during the tour. We are indeed all different, but we can never forget that these people have the same mindset: they share the same love for wine, food, and life in general. This is why their interaction with each other is quick and deepens throughout the day so that after some time inside our comfortable vehicles everyone is already talking extensively about their families, travels, etc. On the other hand, our guides are trained to quickly break the initial ice to unite the group when there are people who want to stay a little apart from it. To do this you have to respect the different dynamics of the group and always try to discover points that are common to that specific group.
On the other hand, the guides of The Best Portugal are trained to share their information about Portugal with all the elements of the group independently of their communication skills and there are always moments during the day when this interaction is possible, establishing a link between the guide and the whole group.
In the initial phase, the guide breaks the ice, establishes the principles for the different elements of the group to introduce themselves individually to everyone else, establishes initial conversation points based on themes such as travel, activities in Portugal, and finally, after the group has its dynamic, it is up to the guide to monitor the more reserved people so that they can be accompanied individually throughout the day, without forgetting everyone else. Sounds easy? It isn’t but that’s the difference at The Best Portugal: the human material. In our case, we only work with experienced and certified guides in History and Wines, which allows them to address all the situations they face daily.
Let’s go back, however, to our experience with groups. At the end of the day and with humility we say that our group tours are a gigantic success. People end up friends exchanging email addresses, cell phone numbers, and planning dinners and other activities while still in Portugal. At the very least and during the wine tour people made what we at The Best Portugal call friends for a day, a phenomenon that is known to all who travel a lot: friendships are made in a very intense way, but they are understood and last only for the duration of the tour. And as travelers, we are not only used to this, but we live well with this separation because what we all love so much to do is to meet new people
And I end with this lesson: for those who like people, everything is possible…
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