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2015 Schedule of Events

31 Mar

Contact us at info@toursphere.com if you are attending any of these events and would like to schedule a dedicated chat about your mobile interpretive strategy. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Museum Association of New York
April 12-14
Corning, NY

Nevada Tourism Commission’s Rural Roundup
April 15-17
Carson City, NV
Join our President Thomas Dunne for the mobile session History as a Hook on April 16th at 10am and 11am. He’ll be co-presenting with Peter Barton, Administrator for the Nevada Division of Museums and History.

American Alliance of Museums
April 26-29
Atlanta, GA
Booth #827

National Association for Interpretation (NAI) International Conference
May 3-7
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Booth #5

Association of Midwest Museums
July 19-22
Cincinnati, OH
We’ll be providing the official mobile app!

Southeastern Museum Conference Annual Meeting
October 12-14
Jacksonville, FL
We’ll be providing the official mobile app!
Join our VP of Market Development Kevin Dooley and a panel of your museum colleagues as they present the session Maximize Your Mobile App. You’ll learn how to leverage your app to drive memberships, fundraise, meet accessibility goals, engage with visitors of all ages, and more.

New England Museum Association
November 4-6
Portland, ME
We’ll be providing the official mobile app!

5 Strategies for Marketing Your Mobile Tour

15 Sep

Once your mobile tour is launched, you need to make sure people know about it! Marketing and strategic promotion are key. Here are some tips to help you successfully increase awareness and encourage use of your tour.

1) Create Prominent Signage
Signage, signage, signage! We can’t stress this enough! Your visitor won’t use your tour if they don’t know it exists, so a successful tour is one that is prominently promoted. Catch your visitor’s attention as soon as they are onsite–promote the tour with signage in the lobby and admissions area. Countertop signs, brochures, and wall plaques by each point of interest should all point to your app URL or have a QR code to scan. Be sure your front end and gallery staff are knowledgeable about the tour and can explain to visitors not only how to use it, but how it benefits their experience.

2) Market Your App on Your Website
Most visitors hit your website looking for the latest information about exhibits, events, programs, or general visitor information. This is a great time to promote your tour, as they are already in the planning stages of their visit. Link to the tour and offer a QR code to access it on your website, so visitors can save it for their upcoming visit or download it in advance. You can even have a dedicated page on your website that talks about the tour in detail.

3) Utilize Your Online Network
Use your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram networks to promote your tour to an audience that has already shown an interest in learning more about your organization. Be sure to link directly to the tour. If you have a blog, write a post on the tour that has an alternative spin than the usual press release. You should also make an announcement in your newsletter. A blast to your entire staff to experience the tour will not only keep them informed, but can also tap their own social media channels. Partner organizations, such as regional museum associations, sponsors, and your industry’s listservs should be notified as well to spread the word.

4) Media & PR
Write a press release announcing your tour and publish it via PR distribution websites. You can also submit it directly to your local newspapers, news channels, and other bloggers and media outlets who have covered your organization in the past. Let them all know about your new tour and invite them take the tour and interview both visitors using it and the staff that has been working on it.

5) Hold a Launch Event
A launch event is your chance to make a big debut for you tour and a great way to enhance your media campaign. Invite narrators, board members, media, sponsors and partners. Have the Director of your organization speak about what inspired the project, how it was developed, and what you hope to accomplish. You can play samples from the tour, and have narrators and other contributors share their experience in creating it. If you don’t have the funds to hold a launch event try to tie the tour launch into another event or anniversary already scheduled.

Now that your tour has been launched, continue to promote it! Be sure to keep up with the social media campaign, with links back to the tour. Keeping your app content fresh will keep old users interested and pique the interest of new ones. Continue to enlist your front end and gallery staff as they are constantly interacting with your visitors and are a valuable way to encourage use.

Have questions about marketing your tour? Contact our Director of Marketing, Monica Barndt, to learn more!

Strawbery Banke Museum Mobile App Wins 2014 NEMA Award

6 Aug

The "Listen to the Landscape" app at Strawbery Banke Museum

Congratulations to our friends at the Strawbery Banke Museum! Their app took First Place in the Mobile App category in the New England Museum Association’s 2014 Publication Awards Competition. The app, Listen to the Landscape, was cited for its excellent video interpretation, striking imagery, and overall ease of use.

The annual NEMA competition recognizes excellence in design, production, and effective communication in all aspects of museum publishing.

Located in historic Portsmouth, NH, the Strawbery Banke Museum is an outdoor history museum that allows visitors to experience nearly four centuries of New England life. The site features restored homes, exhibits, historic landscapes and gardens–all of which tell the history of the many generations who settled in the area.

The app features historic imagery and over 40 videos, produced by our partner Audissey Media. Narration by founders, ethnobotanists, historians, volunteers, and role players contribute to this outstanding interpretive museum tour app.

Discover Strawbery Banke on any web-enabled device at http://sbm.toursphere.com.

Discover Strawbery Banke on any web-enabled device at http://sbm.toursphere.com.

Add a Google Map to Your App

23 Jul

Map IconIf you’re building a walking or city tour with the TourSphere builder, allowing the user to track their position in relation to all the sites in your app is essential. Here’s a quick intro and tutorial on how to use our Google Map widget.

What is the Google Map widget?

This widget allows you to add a map to any page in your app, create site markers, and define links that connect the user to various sites in your app. In your final app, when the user taps a marker, they are taken to the desired point of interest.

Before you dive into maps, you’ll want to make sure you have a few point of interest pages built in your app.

How to Add a Map

When you are in your project, click the green add Add button to open the widget drop-down menu. Select the Google Map widget. This will drop the widget onto your page and open the map editor. You will be prompted to enter a city name or address—this can either be the general area of your tour or the starting location of the first stop. Once you enter the address, you will be zoomed into that area, setting the stage for building your map.

How to Add and Set a Marker

There are two ways to add markers. With the map editor open, click the green Add Marker button on the top left. You can then enter a specific address location—you’ll see the marker fall onto the page. The other method is to zoom in on the map to the desired location and click on the map itself to drop the marker.

Once you’ve added a marker, you’ll see a new drop-down menu appear at the bottom of the page. This is where you will select a page in your app to link to the marker.

The second option, under the Link menu, is to title the marker. This title appears in the pop up bubble the user sees when they tap the marker and the optional site list. The widget automatically pulls the title of the page you have linked, but you can choose to enter an alternative title in this field. Don’t forget to save!

The Marker List

In the map editor, on the right you will see a list of all the markers added to your map. If you want to edit a specific point of interest, use the Search feature to quickly find a specific marker. Click on the marker title and you will see the editing options reappear at the bottom.

If you hover over one of the marker titles, you will see the marker jump on the map to locate it visually on the map.

How to Edit Markers

You can edit your markers by clicking on the marker directly or by clicking on the title in the marker list. Either method will open the link and title editor.

Edit your marker location at anytime by dragging and dropping the marker itself to a new location on the map.

Map Options

There are features you can enable on a map-by-map basis. They can be accessed by clicking the green button labeled Map Options in the top right of the map editor window. Check off an option to enable it.

The three optional features that can appear as icons in the left corner of any map are:

    GPS—Allows users to pinpoint their location on the map.
    Home—The user ultimately will zoom and pan around the map. This feature allows the user to re-center the map to its original position.
    List—Displays a list of all the points of interest defined in the map. The text in this list is determined by the individual page titles.

If you are building your app for optimal viewing on tablet devices, you may want to consider displaying your map as an inset view. This adds additional padding to the bottom of the map so it does not take up the full screen.

Positioning the Home View of the Map

As you add markers, you’ll pan and zoom around the map. When you leave the map editor, the last position the map was in is the “Home” position—the area that user sees when they access the map for the first time in the final app. After all of your markers have been added, zoom out a bit so all of the markers are clustered towards the middle of the map. Exit the editor and use the app preview function to view how the map and markers look. If necessary, re-open the editor and make a series of small tweaks to the position.

We find best practice is to zoom out to reveal all of the markers and the entire area the tour covers. However, you can also zoom in to show the detail of the starting position of the tour. Either way, keep in mind the Home position will change a bit from device to device depending on the screen ratio.

Marker Numbers

If you have a sequential tour, you can label each marker with a site number. The site number is set in the individual page settings. Access the page settings by closing the map editor and going back to your pages. Select any tour site page and click on the header—the gray bar at the top where the page title appears. In the editor that appears on the left, enter the Site Number and click Save. The Google Map will automatically pull each site number and tie it to the corresponding marker.

5 Tips and Tricks From an App Builder

27 Jun

Building an app does not have to be a long or frustrating experience. Knowing best practices and familiarizing yourself with our CMS to know basic features will go a long way. Here are a few tips to keep in mind so you can maximize your time and meet your launch date:

1. Organize Your Content
Keep your app build moving by organizing your final assets. Sounds obvious, right? But you wouldn’t believe how frequently we come across assets in the Project Library that are poorly labeled or redundant. Not paying attention to naming conventions can make the library cluttered and confusing.

The easiest way to organize is to create a folder on your computer for each asset type, e.g., video, audio, images. Keep your file names simple, Site 1, Site 2, etc. or 01-Introduction, 02-Site Name.

Think about other contributors on the project. If they were to look at the files in your library, would they be able to easily determine which files should be placed on each page?

2. Bulk Upload Assets
Now that all of your assets are organized, save a substantial amount of time by bulk uploading your files in the Project Library. You may upload as many assets as you like simply by selecting multiple files from your computer. After the upload begins, you can navigate away from the library and work on other parts of your app.

3. Drag and Drop
Once you have added widgets to a page, you can move them around the page by clicking on one and dragging it above or below another. This trick also works within the List widget. If links are set in a list and you want to reorder them, simply click on the list widget to open the editor and drag and drop to move them around.

4. Copy Pages
Take advantage of the Copy Page feature in the builder. Chances are you have created a typical page layout—such as a site page—copy this page and you’ll save precious time. You’ll need to replace page titles, files, and text, but you will not have to rebuild the base structure every time. The Copy Page feature is located above the Page List in our CMS.

5. Set Links Last
We have found best practice is to use an “assembly line” approach when building your app. Once you have all of your pages built, the next step is to set the links that determine the flow of your app—these are primarily links for buttons and site lists. If all the pages have been built, there is no need to toggle back and forth between newly created pages and pages that contain links to them. Creating links as a final step allows you to easily flow from page to page. It’s also a great way to identify any pages that still need to be created.

3 Museums with Award-Winning Apps!

26 Jun

It’s been a great year so far for our clients!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art won a prestigious 2013 MUSE Award from the American Association of Museums last month — in the  Games and Augmented Reality category. Built on the TourSphere mobile platform, and co-produced with Green Door Labs, Murder at the Met: An American Art Mystery is a mobile detective game . Visitors use their smartphone to explore museum objects and interview suspects and witnesses in order to solve the murder of Virgine Gautreau, the woman immortalized in Jean Singer Sargent’s masterpiece Madame X.

Gore Place and the deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum took First Place and Honorable Mention, respectively, for Best Mobile App at the 2013 New England Museum Association Awards. Both apps are outdoor self-guided GPS tours that offer detailed interpretations of their grounds.

The American Association for State & Local History also awarded the Gore Place app with a 2013 Award of Merit.

We’re always honored to work with such fantastic clients – congratulations from all of us here at TourSphere!

Award Winners

Exploring Estates Around New England: 5 Venues to Visit This Season

13 Nov

Around New England, there is a plethora of historic homes, estates and museums to check out for locals and tourists alike. At TourSphere, we love exploring both the well-known and hidden gems around our area. Today, we’ve decided to share some of our favorite estates around New England, picked out especially for you to enjoy during the upcoming holiday season!

Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House

A cozy little “estate”, just outside of Boston, MA, the Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House is the setting for the well-known novel, Little Women. Visit this historical venue, where Louisa May Alcott both wrote and used as a setting for her book. When walking through the rooms, you’ll find the majority of furnishings and setting just as it was when the Alcott family lived there in the 1800s, complete with the desk that Louisa wrote at. If you visit during the month of December, they also offer a holiday program on the weekends.

Phillips House

Amidst the Witch Museums and tourist landmarks in Salem, MA stands a grand historic home on Chestnut Street. The Phillips House is a true New England style estate, built by Captain Nathaniel West in 1821. When you visit, you’ll find  a unique collection of early American antiques, as well as Hawaiian and Polynesian artifacts. You can also enjoy a Thanksgiving celebration with the Phillips Family on November 15th.

Victoria Mansion

If you are heading up North in Maine, be sure to look up the Victoria Mansion in Portland. A summer home to Ruggles Sylvester Morse, the estate was built in 1860 and is also known as the Morse-Libby House. Considered as one of the most splendid examples of pre-Civil War architecture, the opulent estate is decorated to the nines with lavish, intricate details throughout.

 

 

Mark Twain House

A well-known household name, Mark Twain is an American icon. However, most New Englanders don’t realize that his house is right in Hartford, CT.  Visitors can peruse the impressive home, where Mark Twain and his family lived from 1874-1891 and Twain wrote some of his most famous works including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and The Pauper and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. The House’s Annual Holiday House Tour takes place on Sunday, December 2nd, so be sure to visit this destination.

 

The Rocks Estate

And now that we’re in the spirit of the holidays, here’s another one of our favorite estates to visit during the season! Located in Bethlehem, NH, The Rocks Estate is best known as a Christmas tree farm. But, when you are there picking out your tree, don’t forget to marvel at the rest of the 1,400 acre estate. Walk around the well-kept trails, learn how maple syrup is made, and enjoy sights of the preserved wildlife around the grounds. During the holidays, there is a plethora of festive activities to partake in.

 

We hope you’ll take some time and enjoy a few of our favorite estates around New England! Happy travels!

Budget Travelers Explore Boston with a Mobile Concierge

2 Nov

As you know from our last blog post, hotels and resorts find it extremely beneficial to create and utilize a TourSphere app to highlight their own property and services. Today, we want to introduce you to 40Berkeley, the hippest and most affordable place to stay right  in the heart of Boston!

40Berkely created a mobile app for potential tourists and current visitors, to help introduce them to the property and navigate their way around the city. Their app provides visitors with contact information, maps, event listings as well as a link to their blog for more ideas and suggestions for what to do around the city. They even provide virtual tours to many of Boston’s local attractions, so visitors can view places before they even arrive at their destination! And, they highlight restaurants and attractions that provide a discount specifically for 40Berkeley guests. Guests can even provide on-the-spot feedback through their survey right on their mobile phone!

We compliment 40Berkeley on their great mobile app and think they did a great job providing potential and current guests all of the information they would need for planning a trip to Boston! Check it out!

To view the Mobile Tour of 40Berkeley visit http://40berkeley.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the Mobile Tour of 40Berkeley visit http://40berkeley.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

Hotel Apps and “Mobile Concierge” Services

30 Oct

In this hyper-connected age where seemingly everyone has a smartphone or tablet, hotels and resorts want to serve guests on the go. Luckily, TourSphere can help. TourSphere provides hotels with the tools they need to create hotel apps and virtual concierge services for their guests, whether they’re at the hotel or at home preparing for their trip.

By adding a mobile app to their marketing mix, hotels and resorts can give guests a look at the premises right on their mobile phones. From information about the hotel’s amenities, such as pool or spa hours, and multimedia slideshows with colorful photos to maps that can orient guests and interesting historical information or facts, an app become like a “concierge in the pocket”.


In addition, by adding a mobile app to their marketing mix, resorts have the opportunity to provide a multitude of benefits to guests including:

  • Potential visitors can check out rooms before they book by using virtual tours that they can view from the palm of their own hand.
  • Allow guests to plan their stay before they arrive. Add your hotel’s restaurant or spa on the mobile app so guests can view the menu, make reservations, or schedule treatments as they travel to your locale.
  • Let the TourSphere app answer common guest questions, like the events for the day or where the pool is located. It’s like each guest has their own personal concierge!
  • Orient your visitor with street smart maps that integrate with Google Maps, pointing your guests to local points of interest and seamlessly providing directions.
  • Let the guests provide their feedback on-the-go. Gather real-time analytics about your guests’ experience at your hotel so you can continually improve it.

Many hotels and resorts have seen the value that a mobile app can bring them. Check out how one hotel, The Mountain View Grand, uses TourSphere’s mobile app to serve their guests.

Try it out today on the TourSphere Builder, which allows interested parties to take a free test drive to play around with features and build a mock-up of how the app will look. Then, when you’re ready to implement, you can take it live and give guests the royal virtual treatment!

Getting Spooky: 10 Unique Halloween Tours from Around the Country

28 Sep

At TourSphere. we’re big proponents of any kind of tour. Whether it’s in-person guides leading you through exhibits or one of our mobile apps giving you the low-down on little-known city tourist attractions, tours are a great way to get the most from your visit anywhere. And in autumn, when the air is crisp and the nights longer, there’s no better way type of tour to try than one that incorporates ghosts, ghost stories and other haunted happenings.

We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 picks for Halloween tours across the country. Think we’re missing one? Add it in the comments!

  • Tour Witch City: We’d be remiss not to start in our very own backyard with “The Witch City.” Salem, MA was made famous by the Salem Witch Trials in the 1600s. More than 300 years later, Salem has stayed rooted in its history with a variety of haunted and witch-related attractions. For more of a hands-on experience, check out Spellbound Tours, which combines the history of the Salem Witch Trials with ghost hunting.
  • Ghosts and Gimlets: Enjoy a drink or two with your paranormal sightings on this tour of Savannah, GA’s haunted pubs. The walking tour covers 300 years of history, ghosts and pirates and helps to explain why Savannah is considered the most haunted city in America.
  • Civil War Ghosts: There are ghost sightings, and there are historical ghost sightings. If the latter is your thing, check out Gettysburg Ghost Tours, which takes you through “No Man’s Land” to the most haunted hallways and buildings in this famous Civil War battlefield.
  • Eat, Drink & Be Scary: The Ghost Hunt at the winery Marjim Manor in Appleton, NY provides hungry participants with appetizers, a wine tasting and two glasses of wine–all the better to see ghosts. The Buffalo Paranormal Detectors bring in ghost detection equipment and leads the group through the estate to see what they can find for Halloween inspiration.
  • Hotel Haunts: The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, CO might be better for a good scare than a good night’s sleep. Known as one of the nation’s most haunted hotels, falling liquor bottles, the roaming ghost of the hotel’s founder and mysterious switchboard calls are all part of the tales you’ll hear.
  • Redrum for Real: If you find yourself in Estes Park, CO, around Halloween, it’s time to pay homage to the master of horror himself, Stephen King. Tour the Stanley Hotel–King stayed in Room #217 when writing The Shining and based his horrifying tale on the location. The tour also covers ghost stories, haunted rooms, and a spooky underground tunnel.
  • America’s Glitziest Ghosts: Las Vegas isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind for Halloween, but Haunted Vegas Tours shows the haunted underbelly of a city known best for showgirls and gambling. Check out the “Motel of Death,” where a number of celebrities have died , and the home of one stubborn Vegas spirit, who refuses to leave despite numerous attempts at exorcism.
  • Terror in Texas: Thanks to its Wild West history, Galveston, TX has many tales of murder, revenge, passion and more–many of which have resulted in unsettled spirits hanging around even today. The tour is based on eye-witness account of paranormal activities and incorporates spine-chilling ghost stories.
  • Haunted Mansion: A tour of the beautiful Biltmore estate is a must-do in Asheville, NC, but their latest offering puts the bizarre past of the Biltmore Village on display for those who love a little haunting with their history. Learn about serial killers, curses and a kangaroo that arrived from another dimension in this unique Halloween tour.
  • San Diego Spirits: Considered the most haunted city in the West, San Diego boasts creepy graveyards, haunted mansions, and The Travel Channel’s “Most Haunted Site in America” (The Whaley House). Enjoy racy, historical tours with a haunted twist on the Haunted San Diego Tour.

How do you get spooked in your hometown? Share your picks for the best ghost tours in our comments section!

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