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  • 1.  Guided Tours

    Posted 08-19-2020 02:48 PM

    Good afternoon,


    I wanted to inquire into how institutions and organizations are currently handling Guided Tours?  I assume it starts with state and city/local regulations, but are you running only self-guided tours or guided as well? Any virtual? Paid or not paid?  How does that work for social distancing and masks (if required)?  I currently run the Guest Services department and my staff are trained to be tour guides when booked, but we have not yet opened to the public. When we do we are still planning to book guided tours but we have not yet worked out the logistics. We are requiring masks for both staff and guests, as well as social distancing throughout our facility. While we do have tour equipment to use, I have been thinking about how to manage group tours when our typical ratio has been 1 tour guide per groups of 20, and what will still be the best experiences for our guest with the best value for the money, yet still keeping everyone safe including my staff.


    Also, I have been researching how to implement instituting a GA tour guide program and was wondering if now is the best time to do that? Are other organizations currently operating their own programs? How is that working?


    Thank you!


    Liz Wooley

    Manager, Operations & Guest Services; NASCAR Hall of Fame

    A Division of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

    400 E. Martin Luther King Blvd. │Charlotte, NC 28202



    AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, Baltimore, May 16-19, 2024, click to learn more

  • 2.  RE: Guided Tours

    Posted 08-26-2020 02:08 PM

    Hi Liz!

    We have been dipping our toes into both virtual and small-group Guided Tours.We started with turning our Underground After Hours Tour (normally a 90 minute walking tour with guides as historic characters who take you to two underground spaces in Old Sacramento and give you the seedier side of Gold Rush History) into After Hours - An Online Frolic! We used Zoom Webinars and charged $15 per screen. We started in mid-July offering the tour every Friday night, and averaged about 20 screens per evening. Unfortunately, we have had to cancel the tours in recent weeks as the extreme heat wave and poor air quality due to wildfires here in California have made conditions unsafe for our staff to be outside for prolonged times.

    We adjusted from our normal format to have two guides playing off of each other in character. We found that virtually, the sense of the underground spaces is largely lost, so the stories and characters take precedence. We decided not to have the guides wear masks as it can muffle their voices and prevent non-verbal communication from coming across, but we keep the two of them 6 feet or more apart at all times, handing off the narrative as they go through the tour. We purchased a set of wireless mics to facilitate distancing while still allowing them to be easily heard by the virtual audience. We also have two behind-the-camera staff members who do wear masks. One walks with a camera (iPhone) on a gimbal filming the tour and the other acts as a producer, carrying a tablet and facilitating questions from the audience for the guides. 

    Based on the initial success of these virtual tours, we decided in the beginning of August to start doing our daytime, family-friendly Underground Tours on Friday afternoons at 4:30 and Saturdays at 11 and 1. Unfortunately, because of the weather-related problems mentioned above, we have not been able to gain much traction with these tours yet. 

    We also just started offering in-person family-group Gold Fever! Tours. These tours must be reserved in advance and are booked as private tours for one family group maximum. We have been selling tickets for $12 a person. The tours are all outside and touchless and we just added a hands-on gold panning component to help them be more engaging. When guests arrive they are asked if they have had an symptoms or known exposure to COVID in the past 14 days and they (and the guide) are required to wear masks for the whole tour. 

    We also normally do 1 guide to 20 guests for in-person tours, and have listening devices that allow them to spread out and hear the guide. When we are able to reopen our current plan is to reduce that to 1 guide per 10 guests, but we expect that to have to be approved by the county. Thus far the only approval we have sought is that of California State Parks as we traverse their land during our tours, but we own the rest of the spaces or they are public, outdoor spaces. 

    We are also currently planning to do Virtual Ghost Tours in October. These will be indoors and the tour will go from vignette to vignette, each telling the true story of how someone died in Sacramento. Each scene will be 6 feet or more from adjacent scenes with 1-3 actors per scene. We have many volunteers who are couples or live in the same household so they can be in a scene together and be close, otherwise, all actors will be 6 feet apart from each other. Again, they will not be required to wear masks, but our camera crew will. 

    Let me know if you have any questions about all of that, and I am happy to share what we have been working on! If you shoot me an email, I can also send you a recording of one of our new virtual tours.

    Alexandra Kowalski
    Programs Coordinator
    Sacramento History Museum
    101 I Street
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    (916) 808-1946

    Delta Mello
    Executive Director/CEO
    Sacramento History Museum
    Sacramento CA

    AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, Baltimore, May 16-19, 2024, click to learn more