Audio tours at tourism destinations are nothing new. Museums have been handing out little headsets for years. But all kinds of new technologies are available.
Now that every visitor is carrying a cell phone, you might as well make use of it. Here’s an example from Zedler Mill, in Luling, Texas.
There is a welcome sign at the main entrance, and then smaller signs at particular points of interest. Visitors dial a phone number, then press a number for a particular stop. The audio plays, and they can walk around as they please. Each sign gave instructions to rewind, pause, etc. It even has a way to leave feedback for the destination. (I hope they’re doing something with that!)
I tried it out, and it worked slick. It was well-implemented. And I saw other people use it, too.
How have you used audio in your destination?
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Nebraska Outback says
Our Historical Museum will be implementing their cell phone tour by June 1. They are using OnCell: http://www.oncellsystems.com/services/cell-phone-tours. It seems to have a lot of options (some they won’t be able to implement on their budget), like multiple selections for brief or more in-depth narratives, and games kids can play as families go on down the road. Plus, lots of analytics.
Becky McCray says
OnCell is also the company that did the audio tour at Zedler Mill.
Jerry Harrison says
We’ve been using http://www.spatialadventures.com/ for our cell phone tours in our community. the service has been great and they will beat any other cell tour provider’s price!
We run a smaller historic museum in Vermont and have been using guidebycell.com as our cell tour operator. They are easy to work with, the setup was a breeze and their prices are quite affordable compared to a couple of the others that we talked with. However, overall it seems that most visitors like the novelty of it for the first stop or two but get bored quickly or don’t have the attention span to listen for more than a few minutes. We are considering not renewing this summer because the interaction and interest level just isn’t what we thought it would be.
Becky McCray says
This is such a helpful discussion! I’m glad you’re sharing your real-world experiences.
How could we make the audio more engaging or more useful, so people would listen for more than a few stations?
Agreed – everyone seems to have a cell phone these days. But why not take it a step further and also record short video tours on You Tube and put signage throughout the museum or historical site with a QR code that will link to the You Tube video? If the video also includes closed captioning to it should help get extra SEO juice but more importantly make the information accessible to those with hearing difficulties. This way people that don’t have a smart phone can call in and people that do have a smart phone get something a little extra special.
Just a thought.
Becky McCray says
Thanks, Meilee. That is a great extension of the concept. And as we said in “Add this one thing to make your tour signs much more effective,” you can print QR codes and short URLs for videos on weather-proof stickers, like Avery Labels. That way you can add them to any existing tour signs.
Wow, Meilee, that’s a great option! It costs NOTHING to maintain and most cell phone users have smart phones. In another year it will probably be over 90% with smart phones. Someone can host their own virtual tour on Youtube accessible by QR codes and save a ton of money. Sure the cell phone tour companies provide more analytics and more options as well as just audio tours, but I think the use of smart phones, QR codes, youtube etc can really help a lot of institutions do their own smart phone tours without paying exhorbitant fees! thanks so much!