Jane Hodson is a passionate resident of the Isle of Man and proprietor of GuidedToursofMann.com. She was born abroad while her father, who was from the Isle of Man, was serving in the army. However, when Jane was 7 her parents sent her and her elder sister to boarding school on the island. Eight of her formative years were spent on the island, at a school which encouraged the pupils gaining extensive knowledge of the island. Regular weekend outings to the glens and beauty spots together with much hill climbing kept the young girls fit and out of mischief. During that time her love of the island grew and she developed a close identity with it. Her Grandmother, who lived on the island, would fill her head with stories from the past which brought to life what might have been dull in history books. This resulted in Jane and her father doing family history and research, back in those pre-internet days of parish records and microfiche. Laborious, but a labor of love.
Many years went by and by now Jane who had been married and living in South Africa decide to return to the island, almost like a salmon returning. In 2002 she settled once again on the island and immediately became involved in as much as she could, helping with Manx National Heritage as a volunteer at events, and going to talks and lectures, constantly looking for a way to work in that environment. In 2013 Jane passed a course offered by Liverpool University which eventually paved the way for her qualification as a tour guide registered with the Isle of Man Tour Guides. She continues to go to talks, lectures and walks to build on her knowledge and to add new insights into the Island on her tours.
How do the tour experiences that you offer give guests a unique perspective on history, people or culture of the Isle of Man?
Being of Manx origin, but having lived abroad, I think that sometimes I can give visitors a tour of the island that is seen not only through the eyes of someone who is new to the island, but also from the perspective of a person who is passionate about the island that I have returned to after a long period of being away.
How have your tours evolved since their inception?
I have been doing coach tours and some open top bus work, with some tours around the island with friends, family and visitors from the States on an informal basis. As I am a ‘fledgling’ tour guide and have only been going two years, I am keen now to develop my tour guiding in specific areas.
What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?
One of the things visitors should realize about our little island is the importance of sporting activities which means there may be occasional road closures catering for the various motor cycling and walking events. Having an agreed alternative plan is important so that visitors that are not disappointed.
On coach tours I ensure that I have literature and some images of places of interest that we stop at, but may not be clear from the road, such as Iron Age and Viking settlements. There is nothing worse than stopping and having something pointed out that is not clear. These aids I find are wonderful.
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider visiting the Isle of Man?
There is a great diversity on the island, and one of the things I try to offer is a good overview of the Island from the beautiful scenery, architecture, industrial heritage to the cultural history that has made this place what it is.
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
One of the trends we are seeing here apart from eco-tourism and ‘dark skies’ are visitors who come to the island to discover more about its Victorian Past, and as we have a wealth of history and buildings, I am quite keen on developing town tours – taking you back to the Old Towns.
What sets your tours apart from other, similar, tour options?
Apart from my general knowledge of the island, my great interest in folklore, town history and especially the influence of the Vikings and the monasteries.
What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?
For individual tours, make contact with the clients well in advance and identify their needs, whether it be hill walking, town tours or going on the old steam trains, and make sure that there is enough time to enjoy the sights that they want to see rather than a mad rush from one place to another
What is one strategy that has helped your tour business to grow?
The internet has really helped develop the business on the Isle of Man, and each tour guide now has more opportunities. I am now keeping a travel guides blog on my site, which is about local events and how they connect with the past. My blog is at WordPress under guidedtoursofmann.com
Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.
I was traveling with a coach tour over the moorlands and we were going to a folk village. The road we were traveling on has the most spectacular views once you leave the moorland, and you could hear the visitors on the coach gasp at the beauty of the views ahead of us. I was so thrilled that they saw the same beauty of this island which never fails to delight me, no matter what the elements have to offer.
Jane’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org