Meet Mark King of The Guild
By: Juliane P. Husvik
Photo: Leo Brunvoll / Live
Few, if any, know more about London and its history than Mark King.
As a former Chairman of the British Guild of Tourist Guides (‘The Guild’), he has overseen the leadership of a national organisation representing the interests of over 1500 guides holding the UK’s most prestigious professional qualifications, as well as making sure both visitors and residents are provided with the best possible tour experience.
According to King, who also is the author of «The Blue Badge Guide's London Quiz Book», the secret of a great guide lies not only in the extensive training needed to become a Blue Badge Guide, but just as important are their unique personalities.
“All Blue Badge Guides are «people people» with exceptional interpersonal and communication skills. Each guide is encouraged to engage on the client’s unique terms, and take them beyond their preconceived expectations. The aim is to provide each guest with rich understanding and enjoyable experiences they didn’t even know they wanted prior to their tour. A Blue Badge guide will be skilled at reading people and develops the expertise necessary to cater to their specific needs. For example, a guide choosing to work with younger families will become skilled at keeping the interest of a 10-year-old asking all sorts of wonderful questions, while at the same time being able to engage with the child's siblings, parents and grandparents in suitable ways.”
Teaming up with Live, King is looking forward to sharing London’s unique character and history with new visitors, as well as looking forward to the slick technology and smooth booking experience that the Live app brings to the table.
“Partnering up with an app to connect with top-quality guiding services is a logical development that is perfect for the modern world. Live impressed the Guild with its clear vision and by developing an app that will impress guests through its easy-to-use interface and elegant , attractive design that showcases the best of London. At a time when technology is evolving so rapidly and new online services seemingly created by the minute, a rock-solid commitment to quality and continuous improvement are the only things that will ensure success in the long run. This app works as a perfect bridge between our members’ services and our guests’ desires.”
Combining Live’s modern platform with the expertise provided by members of the Guild, the partnership initiates so many new and exciting possibilities.
“What sums up Live for me, is its name. First, it describes what you get out of the app – live and authentic experiences in a city that is ever alive. Second, by using Live, you are reminded that the most important thing in this world is to live your life to the full. These two meanings encapsulate the essence of Live. I am thrilled that the Guild’s Blue Badge guides are partnering with the people behind Live. They have succeeded in creating an elegant technological solution, while capturing the passion each of our members has in our professional work and to convey this through simplified high-end technology.”
In a business – and in a vast metropolis – that encourages re-visting as well as recommendation to friends, Live must become an essential partner when it comes to establishing personal yet professional relationships that endure.
For King, this aligns perfectly with his custom-made tours, spanning classic attractions like the Tower of London or Buckingham Palace to newer attractions such as stunning views of London's ever-changing skyline. He’s also the man to see about TV and film locations ranging from The Crown to James Bond, while at the same time providing an unexpected range of tours relating to World Wars One and Two – including a walk along a central Zeppelin air raid route and a fascinating visit to the Imperial War Museum.
Born and raised in London, guiding in his hometown has become a lot more than just a job for King throughout the past decade. Showing people around London is almost like inviting them into his own home – sharing a place he’s very proud of.
“My London – if I may call it that - is an incredible model. For me, it’s a successful, welcoming multi-cultural city continuing to succeed by being a melting pot where people from diverse backgrounds can come together in exciting ways. It’s not perfect – if only! – but it can be an amazing beacon. I often say that if New York is ‘The Big Apple’, then London is ‘The Big Onion’. Why? Because London has so many layers and you have to peel them off, one by one, to savour the full flavour.”
While sometimes encountering visitors who have preconceived assumptions about a tour or a place, King’s passion as a Blue Badge guide is to use his knowledge to help them appreciate things in new ways – providing an even greater understanding through his tours.
Download the Live app to book a private guided experience with Mark.