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The Name Game

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We're hosting over 100 guides this week. They flew from all over Europe to Edmonds (just north of Seattle). While they may be aces, with all the tour-guiding experience in the world, we're dedicating this week to making sure they know what our travelers expect and what distinguishes a Rick Steves tour.

You can be a French foodie, and Italian art historian, a Spanish dancer who fights bulls on the weekend, or the top Blue Badge guide in all of England. But if you don't know the Name Game, you're not a Rick Steves guide. On our tours, we want everyone to know everyone else's name -- so our groups do this little memory aid exercise. And this morning, I met with 25 of our newest guides to actually do the Name Game together.

Still fuzzy with jetlag, we gathered in a circle and went systematically around (as the Name Game entails) until everyone knew everyone's name.

Here's a fun little video clip of Liz Lister (from Scotland), who happened to stand in the unlucky spot in the circle -- immediately to my right. When it was finally her turn, she needed to go through the entire group. And Liz (who was my guide when I joined our Best of Scotland tour this summer) nailed it. After this, we reshuffled so everyone was in a different spot, and the guides showed off their memory by getting all the names right again.

We hope you'll be playing the Name Game with your small group and great guide sometime in 2014: perhaps in Vienna, maybe Lisbon, possibly Dublin, or how about Amsterdam? Wherever you end up traveling, when it's on a Rick Steves tour, it's with a great group of people... and they'll all know your name.

P.S. I don't want to keep the guides to myself. On Saturday, January 18, 9am P.S.T. join me and my tour guides online for the live streaming of Test Drive a Tour Guide -- eight free, one-hour slideshows on Europe's top tour destinations for 2014. Tune in and learn more!