【Our Tour Consultant】What Guests Have Taught Me – An Interview with Tour Consultant Shirley Fang

“I still look like a child, and every time I meet guests for the first time, this is the thought that I think all guests have ‘What! This can’t be the kid that I have been in contact with!'” This is how petite Shirley always makes fun of herself.

What makes up for Shirley’s small size is her composed personality. Every person who gets to know her will undoubtedly feel her conscientiousness. She will prepare delicious snacks for hungry travellers, and bring warm blankets and cushions in the car for older guests. She does her best to remember even the smallest details of every guest, in order to best care for them during their travels.

As an English major in university, after leaving her work at various translation agencies, Shirley wanted to find a job where she could combine her professional and personal interests. In was a complete accident that she found the Tour Consultant position. “I really enjoy the feeling of travelling with a group of friends or family,” she says. And so that was how Shirley, who has always loved travelling, stepped into the tourism industry and started drawing on her English skills to help plan trips for foreign travellers.

In the past, Shirley had always thought she wasn’t the most comfortable with meeting new people for the first time. Now because of her job, she has had countless opportunities where she had to deal with guests firsthand. “I still remember the first time I was on the phone with a guest who had a problem and I got really nervous. However, when I hung up, allowed my emotions to settle and thought more carefully about the core of the problem, I was able to reconnect with the guest and successfully solved the issue,” Shirley remembers.

Through practice and experience, Shirley slowly found certain techniques to faciliate optimal communication between her and the guests. “Whereas before I used to be more of a listener, gradually I learned to actively bring up the key points in our conversations so that I can best help the guests.” Shirley believed that everyone had their own idsyncrasies; regardless of whether they decide to contract her help in the end, it was important to make all guests feel satisfied in their communications.

“I also learn a lot from my guests!” One time, one of Shirley’s guests forgot to apply for the visa, to the point that he could no longer join the trip. Despite this predicament, the guest remained extremely calm with no hint of anger, and asked Shirley to take good care of his wife and mother-in-law who were still going. “I know how much time he spent planning for this trip, but he manages to tell me that even the most well-planned vacations will have some unexpected troubles. Even though letting out frustration might make one feel better temporarily, it upsets everyone else around and leaves a bad impression.” This made Shirley realize that when problems arise, finding a useful solution is more important than looking for blame.

Other than interactions with guests, this job also offered other meaningful experiences for Shirley. Shirley’s mother is a member of a theatrical troupe, which mainly composed of cancer patients and volunteers. For their annual performance one year, Shirley invited her boss Peter. Throughout the performance Peter had tears rolling down his face because he was so emotionally stirred by the theme of “home” in the act, so much so that he was inspired to launch permanent travel promotions for the elderly in order to encourage people to bring their older parents and grandparents to go travelling together and create valuable family memories. Shirley was warmly touched by Peter’s action and support.

Shirley believed that the beauty of Taiwan laid in the heartwarming interactions with its people. Some of Taiwan’s less famous tourist spots offered the most authentic experiences, such as Old Taipei Dadaocheng, which she often recommend to people for its traditional architecture, teahouses and vendors, where one could really feel the vitality of the people. With a shimmer in her eyes, Shirley says “I believe that stories are spread through stories, and that culture is preserved through culture.”

With her ambition and astute sense of humour, this petite woman continues to attentively plan dream trips for every guest at Topology Travel.