Tag Archives: Cities

Why a Pilot App Makes Sense

1 May

It’s tempting to think about creating an app that highlights every historical point of interest in your city; or every artifact in your museum. Stop! Don’t go any further.

While it’s great to dream, and to plan in grandiose visions, the truth is – you should dip your toe in the water before jumping into the pool. What do I mean?

Mobile apps have changed, even in the couple of years they’ve been around. Now you can build them yourself – or use template-based app builders like TourSphere – to quickly and easily build apps. The best approach, in my opinion, is to build a pilot app. This is a scaled down version of an app that you can build in 4 – 8 weeks and without much staff time. Then you have a viable product to give to your visitors. They, not you, provide feedback on the experience. They, not you, tell you how to make it better.

Once you have real, quantifiable data from your visitors, you can continue to build out and enhance your mobile app. Then you’re building something your visitors want – not something you think they want.

Let’s take an example. I spoke this morning with a museum that has a campus of six buildings; at any given time they have 3 rotating exhibits; a permanent outdoor sculpture garden; and a permanent indoor collection of over 10,000 objects. They were considering making a massive financial investment, and literally years of planning and staff time, to build an app that included EVERYTHING.

That is potentially a tragic waste of resources. I encouraged them to instead offer a simple “Curator’s Choice” app, which would highlight 20 curator favorites in the permanent collection. The app will take about 6 weeks to build. They will have it in time for summer; and they will have Analytics and a built-in Visitor Survey, in the app. This will give them real data – to inform their long-term mobile app strategy.

This is the way to do it. It saves you time, money, frustration – and leaves the decisions regarding the visitor experience to, well, the visitors.

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.

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.

History and Technology: A Perfect Marriage

16 Nov

Newport, Rhode Island is known as an iconic location filled with historical nods to the past, through the mansions lining the coast, historic meeting houses and buildings downtown, as well as its role in the American Revolution. The Newport Historical Society has married its love and dedication to history, with technology, by providing visitors a TourSphere mobile app to explore Historic Newport.

The Newport Historical Society is dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing items from Newport’s past. Their mobile app allows the public to peruse news, events, offerings and resources and take a step back in time. Guests can also virtually visit the Museum and Gift Shop through their phone. The app, sponsored by a local Real Estate Company, is a great example of monetizing a mobile app and providing a local company great exposure to their target audience. We’ve got some more helpful tips on this topic here.

This season, The Newport Historical Society has lots to talk about! December 1st marks the beginning of the Holiday season, with their Open House event, and proceeding Holiday Lantern Tours. Next week, the Newport Mansions also debut their holiday look, with festive decorations that are not to be missed. So, first check out the mobile app and then plan your visit to historical Newport this season!

To view the Mobile Tour of The Newport Historical Society visit http://newport.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the Mobile Tour of The Newport Historical Society visit http://newport.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

Apps as a Marketing Tool for Book Publishers

9 Nov

The digital versus print worlds have been at odds in the publishing industry for years, and while many people argue for one side or the other, smarter publishers have learned how to embrace both. The problem is, digital initiatives can be expensive and out of reach for many independent publishing houses.

Union Park Press here in Boston is one such indie publisher. They put out great titles on history, arts and culture in New England, and they were seeking a

creative way to market their latest title, Drinking Boston: A History of the City and its Spirits by Stephanie Schorow. And that’s the reason that those who pick up this title–suitable for both the history buff and the cocktail aficionado–will find a QR code in an unlikely place: on the book’s cover. The QR code leads to a TourSphere tour of the book’s bars and pubs–a virtual pub crawl that, with the help of the interactive map in the app, helps to bring the book to life and allows the user to retrace the book’s steps through the city.

Creatively marketing a book through a free app is something new to indie book publishing, which until now has seen apps and digital marketing as often outside its budget. When apps cost tens of thousands to develop, it’s hard to justify them as part of a small title’s marketing budget. But TourSphere was able to provide Union Park Press with a creative solution that addressed the issues normally faced with digitalmarketing:

  • Expense: While a traditional app can cost tens of thousands of dollars, TourSphere allows anyone to develop an app for free. A small hosting fee applies only when the app goes live.
  • Technical Expertise: Traditionally, app development requires a technical expert or programmer. TourSphere was designed to allow people to develop apps with no coding or programming; it’s a simple content management system that almost anyone will be able to use.
  • Accessibility: Normally, you’d have to decide whether you want to develop an iPhone or Android app, known as native apps, and that would leave many of your potential users out in the cold. TourSphere’s web app technology looks and feels like any other app on your phone but is accessible through any web browser on any mobile device, phone or tablet. Because it’s web based, it also allows for instant and free changes to the app whenever you want.

Drinking Boston’s virtual pub crawl app offers a dynamic addition to the book and helps connect users to its content. By launching a PR campaign around the app, Union Park Press is also able to garner additional attention for the book and engage app users who may then be interested in a more robust history in print.

For more information, or to check out the Drinking Boston app, visit http://drinkingboston.toursphere.com/en/.

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.

Beantown Mysteries on the Harbor

19 Oct

Want to get the inside story on where the Departed was filmed? Or check out old images of how Boston used to look? If you’re local to Boston, you’ve probably explored the Boston harbor either by sea, or walking along the water and enjoying the beautiful breezy views. But, for those tourists looking to visit the area, or even locals looking to dig deeper, the new TourSphere app from The Boston Harbor Association gives visitors an inside view to the city’s best virtually private walking tour right from their phone.

Boston HarborWalk’s new TourSphere app gives visitors the inside scoop on all things Boston Harbor.  Visitors can take advantage of a virtually private walking tour through some of the most enigmatic and charming neighborhoods in Boston, starting at the Intercontinental Hotel. Tourists can preview restaurants, shops and museums along the water’s edge before even traveling from their own hometowns. They can meet local artists and hear unique perspectives right from the comfort of their own phone. Bostonians themselves can utilize the app to learn more about the neighborhoods they stroll through everyday, by exploring buildings, history, culture and even close-ups of what lies below the water!

The TourSphere app allows people near and far to explore some of the most entertaining stories and historical perspectives that the city has to offer. Through this new virtual channel, Boston HarborWalk brings the local sites and stories right to your phone!

To view the mobile tour of the Boston HarborWalk, visit
http://harborwalk.toursphere.com
or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

“An Insider’s Guide to Seattle” Mobile Tour App

28 Feb

 

What if you could visit another city, and for one hour, see it through the eyes of a local?

That’s the idea of the Seattle Audissey. Join DJ Michele on this mobile walking tour through her hometown, where her voice guides listeners through the story – and alleys – of Seattle. Part audio tour, part soundscape, this tour is timed perfectly to synchronize with the visitor’s own footsteps. For one hour, you become a Seattle local.

“See this alley coming up on your right,” whispers DJ Michele. “Yeah. Let’s turn and walk down there.”

Along the hour-long audio guide, several local Seattlites make an appearance:

  • Mimi Gates of the Seattle Art Museum explains the mystery of the massive sculpture “Hammering Man”
  • James Rasmussen, a Duwamish tribal leader, recites a drum-fueled ode to Chief Seattle
  • Author and journalist Erika Langley tells the story of how she reported on The Lusty Lady stripclub – and ended up dancing there

You’ll also step inside an anarchist bookstore, hear a firsthand account of the WTO riots of 1999, and get an insider’s tour of the world famous Pike Place Market.

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

Cultural Tourism DC Heritage Trail Mobile Tour App

15 Feb


Created in conjunction with our own Audissey Media, Cultural Tourism DC’s Heritage Trail Walking Tour app covers extensive ground with five walks through the soul of Washington DC. NPR’s Korva Coleman narrates and introduces you to notable residents, taking you along DC’s Downtown and U Street Corridors with thoughtfully crafted layers of the past and present.

These tours bring the past to life and allow you to walk in the footsteps of Civil War soldiers and Civil Rights heroes. Walk the real U Street – a neighborhood once coined the “Black Broadway” – and experience the true Renaissance that happened here. Not just for tourists, the landmarks you encounter skip the major monuments and take you through the well-trodden paths of DC and unveil stories unknown to many.

Track your route with location-aware maps – stop in for a bite at Ben’s Chili Bowl, linger in the halls of the National Museum of Women in the Arts – this app allows you to move at your own pace. With over fifty historical images, rich audio, and even video, this app captures the true spirit of Washingtonians, its diverse culture, and its historic crossroads.

Experience Cultural Tourism DC's Heritage Trail app on any smartphone or tablet. Go to http://dc.toursphere.com or use this QR code.

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