No surprise that I love to know how things are made. Garments still need people to sew them together and I have always enjoyed the factory tour from cigarettes to weaving fabrics. When you’ve been on holidays you get to do a tour or two. One experience that stood out was the chocolate in York, which had me thinking; what makes a successful tour?

It doesn’t hurt to start with an appealing #product

It’s a pretty easy sell to kids large and small to take them on a chocolate tour (even one where there is history involved). York’s chocolate story was great fun and a fantastic example of history and learning presented in a digestible way.

Moving from room to room the origins of the cocoa bean in Central America and follows the journey through to the 18th century families that created some still very well-known brands today. Each room that we went into had a different form of presentation; some voices from the past in video, some explanation from our guide, and a ‘virtual’ factory at the end of the tour showing the making with lights and sound simulations.

There were tastings at most stops which kept us interested. We sampled cocoa drink that the Mayan and Aztec cultures had a heavy reliance on some of the sweets that York is famous for and different parts of chocolate through the chocolate making process.

We were walked through how professionals taste chocolate (it’s much more considered than the way my kids approach it) and got the opportunity to make (i.e. decorate) a chocolate lolly pop and see a chocolatier at work. It’s the variety of these options in a tour that make such an experience appealing to a broad market and different ages. At the end of the tour adverts from the archives for various chocolate brands over the years was a fun way to say ‘remember that’?!

This was no one brand but rather the history and background of chocolate and how important it was to this city. The array of different artisan chocolates available for purchase afterwards made choices difficult but we did sample a good number and manage to find a couple of favourites that had us returning for more days later.

Great experiences have these elements

  • Mixing up ways of presenting materials; video, speaking, Q & A, multiple guess type queries.
  • Getting hands on interaction, making, sampling, touching and tasting at different stages of the process.
  • Opportunity for feedback and comment from the tour group; most people are not going to give direct feedback but give them a wall of post it notes and an iPad to record where they have come from and what they’re there for and you get some insight into you audience and what else they are there for.
  • Opportunity to purchase the product(s).
  • Generosity. Whether it be with knowledge or #product, being generous increases the likelihood of positive word of mouth experiences.

These are great elements that not only work for tours but are transferable to a workshop or training session.

What have been your best experiences on tour? Drop us a line, it doesn’t all have to be about chocolate 🙂