How do tour guides cope with knowledgeable tourists? Conceptualising knowledge/information asymmetry in tour-guiding contexts

Ivana Rihova, Matthew Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: Tourists’ resource integration both offers opportunities and presents challenges to tourism service providers. Focussing on the tour guide perspective, the purpose of this paper is to explore how tour guides experience knowledge/information-based asymmetry in encounters with tourists and identifies the roles and coping strategies used by guides to facilitate service co-production. Design/methodology/approach: Critical incident technique is used in qualitative interviews with 47 tour guides in Scotland, broadly representative of the Scottish tour guiding context. 107 critical incidents were analysed, with an average of 2.32 incidents per interview. Narrative analysis of the incidents was performed inductively in four iterative steps using QSR NVivo. Findings: Three resource asymmetry incident categories are identified: probing – Guide-Oracle is questioned by inquiring tourists and copes through diverting, evasion, and follow-up strategies; learning – Guide-Magpie learns from expert tourists through acknowledging and co-delivery; and negotiation – Guide-Diplomat with greater knowledge helps misguided tourists save face through appeasing, following the official line and tactfully correcting. Originality/value: The paper contributes to service co-production research in tourism by theorising about contexts where knowledge/information asymmetry exists between tour guides and tourists, particularly where fluid power relations between guides and knowledgeable tourists occur or where misguided tourists co-produce the service by prioritising own meanings. Findings highlight the importance of soft skills and other non-content capabilities of guides, and suggestions are offered for effective training and resource sharing/ learning initiatives for tour guiding services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalTourism Review
Early online date5 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Feb 2024


  • co-production
  • tour guiding
  • resource asymmetry
  • resource integration


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