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$49 Do-It-Yourself Audio Guides For Museums, Parks, & Cultural Destinations

24 Feb

OnCell-TourSphere Launches New Product to Help All Organizations Go Mobile

PITTSFORD, N.Y., February 24, 2015–OnCell-TourSphere, a leader in the mobile technology space for museums, parks, and cultural destinations, has announced today a new product, a $49 DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Audio Guide that will enable organizations to easily create affordable, engaging audio tours.

The New York-based company works closely with museums and cultural destinations to develop audio tours and apps with their core product, an easy-to-use content management system that allows organizations to upload media content, create points of interest, and output mobile tours. Visitors are given instant access to educational content through their mobile devices.

“We’ve streamlined our product offerings to provide cultural sites of all sizes a way to educate their visitors,” says Thomas Dunne, President and CEO of OnCell-TourSphere. “So many organizations have amazing stories to tell, but operate on a shoestring budget–we want to give them the opportunity to tell their story regardless of how much funding they receive.”

The new $49 DIY Audio Guide plan allows organizations to quickly build their own audio guides, which are accessible via a local phone number and mobile app.

OnCell-TourSphere technology has powered thousands of mobile tours for the National Park Service, US Forest Service, museums, and historic homes.

About OnCell-TourSphere
OnCell-TourSphere provides a full range of mobile tour solutions integrated onto a single platform, a DIY app builder. With a variety of interactive services such as smartphone apps, mobile web apps, audio tours, beacons, mobile surveys, geo-fencing, and scavenger hunts, OnCell-TourSphere helps cultural
sites and organizations become mobile-friendly to meet the needs of the growing mobile audience. As mobile communication experts who are passionate about the arts and education, the OnCell-TourSphere team has worked on over 2,000 projects both in the U.S. and internationally since its inception in 2006.


Contact:
Monica Barndt
Director of Marketing
OnCell-TourSphere
(585) 419-9844

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New Feature: Google Field Trip Integration

24 Nov

OnCell-TourSphere has partnered with Google Field Trip to provide quality “stories” to Field Trip users. With over 1 million Google-Field-Trip-Partner-TourSpheredownloads to date, Field Trip is an excellent way to learn about what’s around you and is available as a downloadable native app in Google Play and the Apple App Store.

What is Google Field Trip?
Field Trip connects visitors to interesting sights and information, wherever they are. It runs in the background on your smartphone, and when you get close to something interesting, it pops up a card with details about the point of interest. If you have a headset or are Bluetooth connected, it can even read the information aloud to you.

How does this affect your tour?

Through this partnership, OnCell-TourSphere clients have the option to distribute tour content from their live app to Google Field Trip. It’s a win-win solution to give your tour content even more visibility and provide another point of access for your visitors or passersby who may not otherwise know about your tour. The tour “stops” from your OnCell-TourSphere mobile app will be available on Field Trip pop-up cards with a link to your live OnCell-TourSphere mobile tour.

A few thoughts to remember about pushing content to Field Trip:
1) Field Trip integration is available in both Pro and Lite accounts. 2) Enabling Field Trip will not affect your current billing amount as there is no additional charge. 3) When building/editing your tour, simply make sure each of your stops have the following items to help tell your “story”:

  • Map marker in a Google Map widget or a GeoAlert set
  • At least one image or a defined project app icon
  • Text widget that contains descriptive text

Would you like to learn more? Contact your Client Account Manager or email us to get the conversation started.

Five Reasons Every Hotel Should Have a Mobile Tour

23 Jan

If you’re a hotel, you spend a lot of time and effort to provide information to your guests. Racks of brochures line the lobby with info about the surrounding area, and a concierge is available to talk with guests about shopping and dining options. But what about having a smartphone app for the hotel – where guests could access all of this information instantly?

hotels-feature-image_1A mobile app can be an awesome marketing and customer service tool for hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts and hostels. We work with large and small properties – and a hotel app provides an opportunity to engage your guests before, during and after their stay.

Here are five great reasons that every hotel should have a mobile tour app:

  1. A Mobile App Provides a Preview of Your Hotel: Statistics show that more and more people are accessing the web via their mobile device each year, yet many hotel websites have not caught up. A mobile app is an effective way to orient potential visitors and to give them a virtual tour of the property and amenities.
  2. A Mobile App is a Portal for Reservations: Once a site visitor has had the chance to view a virtual tour of your property, they can instantly parlay that into action by porting directly from the app into the hotel’s reservation systems. A mobile app provides the visitor with an instant course of action to book a room.
  3. Instant Customer Feedback: Thanks to instant information transmitted from the app, hotels can become aware of guest issues while the customer is in the hotel–and allows you the opportunity to remedy the issue immediately.
  4. Analytics Provide Valuable Customer Data: Apps can provides analytics that help hotels understand and market to their target audience. Much like the Google Analytics gathered from website visits, TourSphere analytics provide demographic and behavioral information about the people accessing your app.
  5. A Mobile App Provides a 24×7 Concierge: Many hotel visitors are more accustomed to turning to their smartphones to advice instead of a concierge. For that audience, a mobile app can provide a “virtual concierge” that orients the visitor, informs them of area attractions and provides them a full listing of the hotel’s amenities. It creates a labor-free service for the hotel to help enhance the guests’ experience without implementing costly programs and additional concierges and guides.

Curious about how hotels are utilizing TourSphere to create mobile apps for marketing and virtual concierge purposes? Check out the Mountainview Grand app or the Chandler Inn app that helps visitors explore Boston!

App Spotlight: HarborArts Shipyard Gallery Walking Tour

10 Jan

If, upon visiting the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina, you noticed that one of the buildings had a large half man, half octopus sculpture on top, your curiosity might be piqued. (The name of the sculpture is Iscariot, by the way, and he’s made of recycled steel and reclaimed wood.) What is a piece of art doing in a marina?

7a9f97bfa0e22021a0aeb534f16fd580b8a98e02a305682c404da510.png.1000x666_q85Iscariot is not alone; the HarborArts project has turned the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina into a veritable art museum, but instead of walking by puzzled, visitors can now access the entire exhibit through their mobile devices on a TourSphere tour, engaging with the work and learning more about the artists.

An interactive map allows visitors to conduct a self-guided tour of more than 30 different pieces of art around the Marina. It also allows HarborArts to engage visitors about its unique mission: to protect and preserve our oceans and waterways by helping each of us to understand the issues and solutions facing our blue planet, using monumental art and public sculpture to raise awareness.

The HarborArts app is a classic example of how a mobile tour can turn what might be a confusing sight to a passerby into an opportunity for engagement with an organization and education about a mission. Further, it provides a virtual tour experience for those who aren’t able to visit the open air museum directly, with excellent photos, background and artist information about each piece of art.

In an effort to also promote the artists featured at HarborArts, the app also provides information about each artist and, when applicable, links to their blogs and websites. For those impressed by the exhibit, they can choose to instantly “Like” HarborArts on Facebook or follow the organization on Twitter, providing immediate interaction and the ability to capture the visitor’s interest before they leave the exhibit. It also provides a donation button embedded into the app, again providing an instant way to access and engage the visitor.

The HarborArts TourSphere app is another creative way for a small nonprofit organization to expand their reach and engagement economically and without hiring staff for tours. If you ever visit the Boston Harbor Shipyard and are wondering about the artwork hidden about, check out the app for the details!

To view the HarborArts Tour, visit http://harborarts.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the HarborArts Tour, visit http://harborarts.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

Smart Resolutions: Three Things You Must Do in 2013 to Simplify Your Audience Engagement

4 Jan

01.06.2012-IslandLivingStupidNewYearsResolutionsToForgetAndACoupleGoodOnesToKeepAh, New Year’s resolution time. In our personal life, we often resolve to eat healthier, be kinder or make those phone calls to long lost friends once a month. But professional resolutions can provide a boost to your year as well. All resolutioned out? Don’t worry; we’ve come up with three social media resolutions for you for 2013. Make these three simple new year’s resolutions for your social media program this year and ensure that your organization will be more engaged by the time the ball drops again!

Get Sane About Your Social Media
If you’re still logging into Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest separately to post, and posting in real time all the time, it’s time to save your sanity and get a social media dashboard. As more social networks crop up, it’s increasingly important to maximize your time and control over your social presence by using an integrated dashboard that allows you to post to multiple networks, schedule posts and review your statistics. A good dashboard also allows you to keep tabs on important search terms, hashtags, mentions and other relevant details that allow you to engage effectively with your audience.

If you’ve been itching for a dashboard but aren’t sure where to start, we have some suggestions for you (no excuses now!):

  • TweetdeckIf you’re just managing a Twitter account, Tweetdeck is a powerful tool. Available for both your desktop and mobile , Tweetdeck allows you to follow specific feeds, search terms and hashtags, to schedule tweets and to filter out the information you want so that you can be a more engaged and powerful Twitter user. It also allows you to manage multiple Twitter accounts from a single dashboard.
  • HootSuiteManaging multiple accounts and/or multiple networks–both Facebook and Twitter–is a breeze with HootSuite. HootSuite is great for teams that manage social media because you can assign tasks as well as monitor specific feeds and search terms, schedule tweets and create custom reports.

Admit that Mobile Must Be a Part of Your Interactive Strategy

If you’ve been in denial about mobile, 2013 is the year that you must come to terms with it. Numbers don’t lie, and in order to engage consumers, you have to market where they live. Not convinced? Consider this:

  • 1.08 of the world’s 4 billion mobile phones are smartphones. 3.05 billion are SMS enabled. (Source: Microsoft Tag)
  • Almost 8% of all web traffic in the US is mobile traffic. (Source: Pingdom)
  • 88% of adult Americans have a cell phone, whereas 57% have a laptop. (Source: Pew Internet)
  • 45% of all adult Americans own a smartphone. (Source: Pew Internet)
  • 55% of adult cell phone users use the Internet on their mobile phones, double the number from three years ago. (Source: Pew Internet)

Mobile use is so ubiquitous, it’s impossible to deny that having a mobile-accessible site, web app and other tactics that allow your organization to engage with your audience via mobile devices is essential in 2013.

Spend Smart on Technology
Thanks to the fact that technology continues to get better, faster and cheaper, it’s time to reassess how you’re spending your money this year. Are your technology expenditures freeing up your staff to do more meaningful work? Are you investing in flexible hardware that will change as your needs do? Do the systems you have make your organization look up to date and cutting edge, or do they seem outdated to the average user?

At TourSphere, we’re in the thick of this resolution as we launch our new kiosk product. Many of our clients are choosing to create tablet or iPad kiosks instead of traditional, bulky and inflexible kiosks. Using the TourSphere Builder, they are creating flexible web apps that they can change in an instant and simply placing tablets and iPads in place of bulky kiosks. Some apps answer basic visitor questions, allowing staff to provide more meaningful services, while others provide additional information on sites or exhibits, more deeply engaging users.

No matter how you do it, it’s important to focus on being more engaged with your audience in 2013, and that means doing your best to communicate with them in the places they naturally go. Whether that’s being accessible by mobile device, more deeply engaging them within your site itself or ensuring that you’re part of their social media feeds, develop your plan for 2013, and stick to your resolutions!

Tell us: What’s your social media, mobile or engagement resolution for 2013?

Mobile Year in Review: Lessons Learned in Mobile in 2012

31 Dec

As 2012 draws to a close, many of us will be reflecting on what we’ve learned over the past year. While perhaps some reflections will be personal or professional, here at TourSphere, we want to take a minute to review the year in mobile. So we’ve tapped our team to present to you the lessons we’ve learned in the mobile space this year.

Mobile must be a part of your strategy.
– Juliet Devries, VP of Community Relations

2012 was the year that a mobile component to your marketing strategy went from being “nice to have” to “necessary.” Even Facebook learned that the lack of a solid mobile strategy can do a number on your company’s value.

A Nielsen study released in February 2012 revealed that nearly half of the cell phones in the US are smartphones, up 38% over the same statistic for 2011. Microsoft Tag predicts that mobile usage will overtake desktop usage by 2014.

These statistics confirm what all of us already knew from our own day-to-day usage: if you don’t have a mobile presence and if that presence doesn’t make it easy for a user to access your information on their device, you’re losing out on a huge chunk of your audience.

The mobile market will become increasingly fragmented, with more choices for consumers.
– Rob Pyles, CEO

Smartphone-OS-share

In the beginning, mobile developers had only to worry about Apple and Android.

Today, the options for mobile devices expand on what feels like a daily basis. From smartphones to tablets, new technology like the Microsoft Surface gives consumers the power of choice and gives developers the headache of having to add yet another platform to their list. A recent Nielsen study showed that Android,  which “dominates” the market, still has less than a 50% market share when it comes to smartphones.

Developing across multiple platforms is going to be increasingly important as we enter 2013. Web apps like those created on TourSphere Builder will provide a flexible, more nimble and more economical option than developing native apps.

You need a long-term mobile strategy, not just an app.
– Clayton Jones, TourSphere Mobile Advisor

In 2011, companies were building apps like crazy. In 2012, we started thinking about other aspects of the mobile strategy. Because so many people are accessing your company or organization’s information by mobile device, it’s essential that an entire strategy take place around the mobile medium, not just a single app, and that that strategy is as flexible as the rest of your marketing plan. We began to see companies turn to TourSphere to help with this flexibility, because web apps can be easily managed and changed unlike native apps.

We began to see that mobile goes beyond simply an app, into location-based services that help with targeted marketing, to websites optimized for mobile devices to coupons delivered by mobile device. An entire strategy around how your audience uses mobile is essential for 2013.  Analytics and data on how visitors are using your app is critical to evaluating, developing and adjusting your mobile strategy.
Tell us: What do you think was the biggest lesson about mobile in 2012, or the biggest mobile story of the year?

App Spotlight: This is Hampton, VA

21 Dec

19eb9e1949b98efcfb150d35271041c18292d866ed749363748b415c.png.301x96_q85Hampton, Virginia is a picturesque city and the site of America’s first continuous English-speaking settlement. Dating back to the 1600s, there’s lots to see in Virginia’s sixth-most populous city, and the Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau wanted to make sure that no one missed a beat. That’s why they created a digital tour guide with the “This is Hampton, VA” app on TourSphere.

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This smartphone city tour provides six “insider’s” tours in the city of Hampton: Downtown Hampton, The Virginia Air & Space Center, the Neighborhood Tour, Hampton University, Fort Monroe and Phoebus. Each walking tour highlights some of the city’s best features and provides visitors with an easy, free way to make a day or weekend out of exploring the city, making it an even more attractive destination.

To get funding for the apps, the Hampton Convention & Visitors Center tapped into each featured organization for relevant grants. This creative method allowed them to pay for the app from a variety of different sources, defraying the cost and serving the mutual interest of a number of local organizations.

  • Downtown Hampton: This one-hour, one-mile tour features an interactive map of downtown and videos that share with the tourist Hampton’s Civil War history, its connectionwith Blackbeard, the site of Bunch of Grapes Tavern (a colonial watering hole), the city’s art and culture and more.
  • Virginia Air & Space Center: Take a walking video tour of 20 aircraft and 10 spacecraft, from antique planes to space shuttles, and learn about the country’s history in the air through videos on your smartphone.
  • The Neighborhood Tour: A 90-minute walking tour of Hampton’s “heart and soul” drives you through scenic roads while giving the opportunity to explore on foot at times. View Victorian homes, waterfront vistas and more.
  • Hampton University: Tour one of the country’s leading Southern universities and its leading historically-black university. In 90 minutes, learn about Hampton University’s pivotal place in the Civil Rights movement, hear about the pro football players that played at Hampton before they “made it big,” and check out Rosa Parks’ former place of employment.
  • Fort Monroe:  One of North America’s most historic and prestigious forts, Fort Monroe has been been a place of refuge for thousands of fugitive slaves; a prison for rebel leaders; and an active military post. Check out the Lincoln Gun, a 49,000 pound cannon and the cell where Jefferson Davis was once imprisoned, all through video and an interactive map.
  • Phoebus: Take a walking tour of one of the oldest neighborhoods in Virginia’s lower peninsula with TourSphere. Videos will talk about the neighborhood’s Civil War history, the Great Depression as depicted by a Post Office mural, and more.

Hampton’s unique idea–to create a package of tours and a complete tourism experience–helps to enhance a visit for any tourist while ensuring that they don’t miss a beat in the city and adding value for member organizations that can be incorporated into tours.

To view “This is Hampton, VA,” visit http://hampton.toursphere.com or scan the QR code with your smartphone.

To view “This is Hampton, VA,” visit http://hampton.toursphere.com or scan the QR code with your smartphone.

 

App Spotlight: Virginia Air & Space Center

14 Dec

34318154b513a1d053ba071710a8b9d54d30c69b1ffb259d5e97f1fc.tiff.473x313_q85The Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau in Hampton, VA has created a unique app package that allows visitors to the city to download a package of six tours that will guide them through the city. Featuring tours of neighborhoods and universities, the comprehensive tours give an insider’s view on the city. But perhaps one of the most popular sites in Hampton is the Virginia Air & Space Center, and accordingly the app for the site gives visitors a dynamic virtual tour through the museum, exhibit by exhibit.

Opening with an exciting ride over the clouds, the Virginia Air & Space Center App guides visitors through the museum with video and audio that gives background on each exhibit. The narrator leads the user through the museum with audio and visual cues, ensuring that the visitor doesn’t miss any important highlights. With 20 aircraft and 10 spacecraft in the center, there’s lots to see.

The app highlights such aviation milestones as the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black military airmen, including video interviews with some of the airmen themselves, providing living encounters of their time in combat. Or, get an up-close look at the F-4E Phantom II while listening to a history of its use and a rundown of how the aircraft is used.

Check out the space capsule that carried astronauts to the moon and back…and hear from one of the astronauts who was on the flight. You can even take a virtual tour of Mars.

The Virginia Air & Space Center is a great example of using multimedia–video and audio–to create a virtual tour that simulates an in-person tour at the museum and helps engage the visitor by providing fascinating background information and ensuring they don’t miss any important details in the museum.

To view the Virginia Air & Space Center App, visit http://hampton.toursphere.com/en/virginia-air-space-center-22607.html or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the Virginia Air & Space Center App, visit http://hampton.toursphere.com/en/virginia-air-space-center-22607.html or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

Transform a Tablet into a Kiosk – in a Snap!

11 Dec

ipadkiosk

Museums, hotels, and all kinds of destinations have long-recognized the value of kiosks.  Kiosks are great ways to engage visitors, provide and collect information quickly, offer maps and event info and otherwise cut-down on common questions which can bog down staff members.

The hold-up for most organizations has been cost.  Plain and simple.  Kiosks and software are pricey and take a lot of time to maintain. Not anymore!! We’re excited to say that having a touchscreen kiosk just got waaay easier and cheaper.

Yes, TourSphere is now offering iPad touchscreen kiosks! You can use our app builder to build one yourself (checkout the one Toledo Museum of Art did recently) or we can build it for you, fast and easy.

Using TourSphere to build your kiosk app decreases the costs of kiosks dramatically, for both the software and the hardware – as much as 85%. It also increases the speed of deployment.  You can literally have a functioning kiosk installed at your site within a couple of days.

Kiosk app at the Toledo Museum of Art. Photo by Andrew Weber.

Kiosk app at the Toledo Museum of Art. Photo by Andrew Weber.

There are just two simple things you’ll need to launch your kiosk:

1. The Hardware

Obviously you will need a tablet.  Apple’s iPads are the most popular and offer some great features for kiosks (such as “Guider User Mode” which allows you to “lock” your clients in to an app) but there are cheaper tablets out there if your budget is really tight.  Whichever device you choose you will also need a way to mount and secure it so that it cannot walk away.  Luckily there are dozens of options out there – locking, blocking the power and home button, allowing for continuous power, etc… (we have some favorites if you want to chat).

2. The Software

This is the easy part!  TourSphere specializes in visitor-based apps.  Our apps allow organizations to collect data, provide real-time, remote updates, provide interactive maps, stream audio and video and much more. Clients have built a custom app in TourSphere in as little as 3 days. To see for yourself create a free account and play around with it.

Here’s a couple of ideas on how organizations can use TourSphere kiosk apps:

Exhibits: You can build a kiosk app for an exhibit, then when a new exhibit comes into town, you can re-use the same hardware (the iPads) and simply update the app itself with the new content. Voila! Your new exhibit features touchscreen kiosks!

Photo by Andrew Weber.

Photo by Andrew Weber.

Hotels: You can place a kiosk in your lobby which provides an interactive overview of the entire property.  Guests can quickly orient themselves with the property amenities, view event schedules, log complaints or comments and see area info.  In short, they can access the most common questions which your concierge probably gets tired of answering.

Interested in creating a kiosk app? Just create a free account and get started building. If you’re thinking about touchscreen kiosks or iPad apps but don’t quite have the idea hammered out or aren’t sure how to start, drop us a line and we’d love to chat about it.

Have you worked with kiosks in the past? What do you wish was easier – or cheaper – about the process?

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Warm Up from Anywhere with Miami: An Insider’s Walking Tour

29 Nov

Dreaming of a beach vacation as the snow flurries start up and the temperatures drop? If you’re booking a ticket to the caliente winter destination of Miami, or if you just want to hide from the driving snow by dreaming about such a vacation, Miami: An Insider’s Walking Tour, powered by TourSphere, will give you the local’s view on some of the city’s hottest landmarks and most interesting stories.

Appropriately narrated by Claudia, a half-El Savadorean, half-Hatian bikini model, the audio tour leads you through the city step by step. Check out the site of the infamous Chainsaw scene from Scarface, then lighten the mood at the famous Wet Willie’s, where Claudia walks you through guzzling down one of their delicious, fruity, frozen cocktails.

Aside from Claudia’s narration and her insight on the sites and sounds of Miami Beach, the tour will provide you with local music and interviews with the city’s movers and shakers. From hot spots where “Miami Vice” filmed to famous art museums, the Insider’s Walking Tour allows tourists to get a more in-depth appreciation for the city for free and on their own time.

To view the Mobile Tour Miami: An Insider’s Walking Tour, visit http://miami.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the Mobile Tour Miami: An Insider’s Walking Tour, visit http://miami.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

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