TOUR & CRUISE
MUSEUMS & CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS
SIGHTSEEING & ATTRACTIONS
TRAVEL AGENCIES & OTAs
■ Case study | Tour Guide Systems:
Cruise Ship Shore Excursions in the Orkney Islands
European Cruise Service has been the main provider of cruise services for foreign cruise ships calling Norwegian ports and fjords for more than 160 years. Currently they operate in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom, Ireland and Russia. Their wide variety of shore excursions gives each guest the opportunity to enrich their cruise vacation and make each port and excursion something to remember fondly.
Cruise ship passengers have high expectations of their experience whilst in each port visited by their vessel. Given that cruise ships typically handle larger numbers of passengers, the task of local guides to effectively manage such quantities of passengers is not always straightforward, as noise pollution can easily ruin the passenger experience. The ESC’s top priority is in fact the individuality of each passenger’s experience. On guided tours it’s crucially important for each guest to hear every word of the guide’s commentary whilst having the freedom to enjoy a moment of their trip by taking photos or pausing to take a closer look at indicated spots.
European Cruise Service decided to offer Vox’s tour guide systems as a solution to the tour guides’ ever-increasing difficulties and to match their clients’ expectations of evermore enriched experiences. Their client Princess Cruises was the first to benefit from the introduction of Vox Tour Guides for their passengers. They carried out a port call in Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney archipelago in Northern Scotland with a shore excursion of over 900 people. Princess Cruises and ECS adopted the Vox Tour Guide System ensuring crystal clear audio, confident that every guest would hear the words of their guide. To achieve this, Vox coordinated the timely delivery of sufficient systems from London all the way to Aberdeen then by ship to the Orkney Islands.
With guides speaking into a Vox transmitter pre-set to its own unique frequency, voice commentary was clearly heard by passengers within a 200-metre radius, allowing each tour to flow in a fluid motion and removing the need for the guides to raise their voice. Princess Cruises and their passengers were highly satisfied with their Kirkwall experience. With this increase in customer satisfaction Prince Cruises decided to include Vox Tour Guide Systems in their 2018 UK programme. European Cruise Service now have included the Vox Tour Guide System as an inexpensive, added-value option to complement any future client shore excursion programmes.
■ Case study | Tour Guide Systems:
How to escape from the crowds of the Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is the huge palace complex in central Beijing. It is the magnificent architectural complex of the former Imperial Palace (from the Ming to the Qing Dynasty), and today the Palace Museum houses a vast collection of paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, and antiquities. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and receives millions of visitors annually.
This historic location suffers from over tourism, and visitors are often unable to enjoy its charm due to the vast crowds and noise pollution. As if that was not enough, the visitors also have to cram together to hear their guide, leading to bottlenecks in crowd flow, and at the same time they still risk missing the guide’s commentary. Topping all this, the negative reviews and UGC created by frustrated visitors is placing the reputation of this unique location at risk.
Travel agencies and tour operators need to quickly and cost effectively offer a reliable solution to this alarming situation. Their local guides need a tool to assist them in efficiently dealing with the huge numbers of multi-language visitors. Guides need to be heard without straining their voices and visitors need to be able not only to hear clearly, but also not get lost or lose their guide.
Vox audio guide systems proved to be a good solution for over-tourism in the Forbidden City. In 2016 the international tour operator CYTS decided to use the Vox Radio Guides for their tours, more specifically for incoming tourists interested in a guided tour of the Forbidden City tour.
The guides were extremely happy with the devices which were easy to use and meant that their words were heard, and their visitors were very satisfied with the tour. Finally, the travel operator CYTS was able to offer their groups a peaceful and informative visit to this unique location, greatly reducing the stress for everyone involved.
The superior technology of the Vox Radio Guides, and the working range of over 300 meters, meant the guides were able to communicate clearly to the visitors through the earphones, without their voice getting lost in the crowd.
After the success of the first season the Tour Operator CYTS decided to increase the number of Radio Guided tours to all the experiences that they offered. In 2017 their reviews improved, and their number of pre-booked tours increased, meaning they were better able to organize their tour agenda, further improving the visitor flow issues.
The evident enhancement and success of the Radio Guides lead to the CYTS also utilizing the Vox system in their proposed outbound tours. Today their business is flourishing and their client satisfaction in just two years has increased three-fold. In 2018 CYTS decided to seal an exclusive contract with Vox tours.
■ Case study | POPGuide:
Digitalisation of Tour products
Pal.mar is one of the largest and most well-known B2B transfer companies in Rome, operating in the city since 1988. It has a reputation for reliability and has more than 50 luxury minibuses ready to satisfy the needs of travellers. Its vision centres on rejuvenation, effectiveness and dynamism, all of which are essential qualities for tourism providers. Every day, the business serves an average of 500 people.
At non-peak times of the day, Pal.mar realised it had a pool of un-booked cars waiting for jobs. Their management team determined a need to better maximise the operating-hours of these vehicles, so considered marketing a sightseeing experience to tourists. The problem was that their drivers were not sightseeing experts, nor were they multi-lingual. Also, small group tours by minibus are generally unaffordable for two reasons: local guides are inordinately expensive and they will always require one of the available 8 seats, reducing the number of places available to tourists. From a visitor perspective, the only affordable sightseeing option was the cheaper Hop-on Hop-off buses.
Pal.mar worked in close liaison with the POPGuide team to develop specially tailored digital tours of Rome. Multi-language audio-commentary of 100s of points of interest was created by POPGuide team, using facts and stories complied by local experts and art historians. They mapped special sightseeing routes the POPGuide navigation software and studied the perfect approach distance to allow the commentary to auto-play on the guests’ smartphones as the drivers followed the itineraries. What’s more, the audio, texts and images remain with the guests after their visit as a talking postcard, or a long-term souvenir, encouraging the word-of-mouth promotion of the Pal.mar experience.
The Pal.mar application launched to high acclaim. The company has already sold the majority of their available seats through their tour operator partners, and new and unique cabrio-car model is being produced to satisfy their growing business. By adopting POPGuide and developing these new visitor services, Pal.mar will also benefit from rich data and trend information on their guests activities after their tour. This knowledge will help them shape the business and products in the future.
■ Case study | POPGuide:
“Teeming” up with Teeming River Cruises
The founders of Teeming Vacation Rentals, Jeff and Gina Paglialonga, have been in the travel industry for over 10 years. They are avid travelers and have explored distant lands and immersed themselves in the culture of some of the world’s most stunning cities and fascinating countries on cruise ships, with ships becoming their floating hotels. After recently branching out from “ocean cruisers” to “river cruisers”, they recognized a need for a different kind of river cruise. They have designed their new river cruises with the traveler in mind, inspiring the additional tag line “~ Teeming River Cruisers, “by Travelers for Travelers”.
Teeming aspired to bring a more affordable approach to the river cruise industry, offering their guests the option to pay only for those experiences in which they wish to participate. They wanted cruisers to be able to be free to explore on their own and at their own pace, to have more time for personal exploration and shopping instead of being regimented to a short window of time on group tours. They needed a cost-effective tool which helped travellers in their free time and allowed for local mapping while using their ship as “home”. They wanted to have an efficient channel for communicating insider knowledge on local attractions for their clients along with the possibility of suggesting excursions and walking itineraries.
Teeming was one of the first companies to pioneer the use of POPGuide, a state-of-the-art content audio guide of the most sought-after ports, with the addition of an offline map (no roaming costs), offline navigation between the points of interest and a “Get Me Back To The Ship” button. This app was branded with their logo and available in multi-language, and above all, the new technology fit perfectly with Teeming’s business model of more freedom and personal control for the river cruise guest.
The Teeming branded app reached the company goals of offering “more affordability, more flexibility, more active-lifestyle options, more control for each individual cruiser, more hands-on experiences, more time in port, and more immersion in the local culture” consequently leading to better passengers’ satisfaction. Moreover, Teeming received constructive feedback data on visitor behaviour and activity trends, which was invaluable for planning. Subsequently Ralph Grizzle, founder of RiverCruiseAdvisor.com, gave the following review “…. I believe its founders fill a void for those seeking river cruises with equivalent costs to do-it-yourself land-based trips in Europe. And while I am not endorsing Teeming River Cruises, I feel that its product is worth a look for those who have always dreamed of doing a river cruise but could not justify the cost.”
■ Case study | S-Guide:
Historial Charles de Gaulle
The Charles de Gaulle Historial presents the story of a man whose life is closely
linked to the liberation of France. The museum has recently undergone a vast
renovation of its audio-visual interpretation system to create an extremely
immersive visual tour. High-tech multimedia equipment is used to unfold the
career path of the general and help visitors understand the extent of Charles de
Gaulle’s stamp on the history of France.
With over 48 points of interest and 360 medias included in the visit, the
museum’s goal is to offer an immersive audio-visual tour. Walking through the
interactive space visitors discover different types of screens, projectors, scenes,
delivering exclusive contents on Charles de Gaulle’s life and achievements. The
audio-visual contents are automatically launched in French. The tour, however,
also needed to be accessible to a multilingual community.
Sycomore delivered 300 S-Guide also known under the name Sound guides to
the Hisotrial Charles de Gaulle. The automatic headset offers an audio
experience that perfectly matched the already existing visual tour. In addition to
its unique sound features, the S-Guide enables automatic triggering of
commentaries and audio-visual synchronisations. For this purpose, 48 infrared
zones were installed. Visitors can connect to a video, or hear a speech in their
own language without having to move a finger!
Upon arrival, visitors receive the S-Guide, an elegant, concise and light audio
headset. The visitors are guided by the automatic launch of audio commentary
available in 8 languages. Apart from volume adjustment, no other handling is
necessary. They can walk hands free and easily take pictures, notes…
■ Case study | Audiopen:
Chateau du Rivau
Situated just a stone’s throw from Chinon, the Rivau Castle was built in 1420 and
brought as a dowry by Anne de Fontenay for her marriage to Pierre de Beauvau,
who was Grand Chamberlain to Charles VII. The medieval fortress reveals an
enchanted world: its ancient architecture, gothic interiors, stables and romantic
gardens offer an absolutely bewitching experience to its visitors. In 1918 it was
successfully classified as a French Historic Monument.
In 2015 the Castle’s resourceful owners were looking for an interpretation tool
to help visitors discover and understand the site’s story by the means of a
playful and interactive tour. The priority was to create an enriching self-guided
tour accessible to all types of visitors. The tour was to cover all of the grounds:
the castle, its gardens, stables…
The Rivau Castle contacted Sycomore to help them find the most appropriate
self-guiding solution to bring its story to life. Sycomore thought the Audiopen
was the most appropriate device for the Castle. The Audiopen is perfectly suited
to indoor and outdoor tours. It is an intuitive and interactive concept composed
of an optical reading pen which can be paired with a large variety of printed
media: tours maps, boards, labels, stickers, brochures. In this case we decided
to pair the Audiopen with a paper itinerary map presenting the Castle, its
surrounding gardens and the main points of interest. When a visitor points the
Audiopen towards an encoded zone (picture) it will immediately launch an audio
Visitors are highly autonomous. The language selection for instance, is so easy
that it may be done directly by the public. They simply need to point the pen
towards the appropriate flag represented on the map. Visitor are then free to
explore the Castle grounds at their own pace. They walk around and unblock
captivating audio contents with the Audiopen as soon as they come across a
point of interest pictured on the map. It’s almost like a treasure hunt!
■ Case study | POPGuide:
Tourism management at St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most visited and sacred sites on the globe. It is the largest church ever constructed and has historical connections dating back nearly 2,000 years. It is the dominant feature of Rome’s Skyline and is one of our biggest POPGuide success stories.
Admission to the sacred site is free to the millions that visit every year, but without a professional guide it’s difficult to fully understand and appreciate its many points of interest and fascinating stories. With tourism growing around 20% annually, the tourism management operator at the Basilica faced the same issues as many other major institutions: How to cope with the log-jams caused by increased visitor volumes, as well dealing with the backlogs surrounding peak- time lack of availability of trained local guides in the right languages or physical guiding hardware.
The management team addressed the problem by choosing ‘POPGuide for Museums & Cultural Attractions’ as their tool to provide high quality multi-language guiding services to individual visitors on an ad-hoc basis. For a small fee at entry, or pre-purchase online, visitors quickly download the POPGuide application onto their smartphone. Then, selecting from any one of 11 languages, they enjoy high-quality, point-by-point audio commentary and insights from Renaissance historians and art experts. POPGuide supports their entire visit, allowing them to fully explore at their own pace and in their own time. What’s more, the audio, text pop-ups, floorplan and graphics remain on the visitor’s phone after their visit as a long-term souvenir.
More than 2,000 visitors per day opt to purchase POPGuide on-site and it receives incredible online reviews. POPGuide helps the tourism management company absorb the extra volumes, peaks and troughs, and provides the Basilica’s clergy with rich data on visitor movements, preferences and interests. POPGuide has helped the team improve visitor satisfaction, better manage traffic flows, develop new visitor services and create fund-raising opportunities.
■ Case study | Tour Guide Systems:
VIP Event at the National Gallery
The National Gallery houses one of the greatest collections of paintings in the world. Established in 1824 as a new art collection for the enjoyment and education of all, the National Gallery first consisted of 38 pictures, put on display at a house on Pall Mall while a purpose-built gallery was constructed. The new museum opened in 1838, there are now over 2,300 works of art, from medieval classics to world-famous pieces by the French Impressionists. The pictures in the collection belong to the public and admission is free 361 days of the year.
Frieze London is an annual event in October which showcases the best of international contemporary art by emerging and established artists. A highlight of this week-long event is the VIP Unexpected View soirée at the National Gallery, where guests are offered an exclusive tour of the museum’s historical collections guided by contemporary artists. With around 250 attendees touring the various galleries split into 6 smaller groups, it was essential that every individual would be able to hear every word of the two artists speaking to each smaller group at any one time.
For the second year in a row, the National Gallery chose the Vox Tour Guide System as their tool to ensure every guest heard the words of their guide in crystal clear audio. In order to facilitate two simultaneous speakers speaking to an audience in each of the 6 galleries with no interference, in each of the respective galleries Vox mixed the signal of the two artist transmitters as an input for a third transmitter set to the same numbered channel (frequency) of the given group of visitors. As each group of visitors processed from one gallery to the next, they would individually change the channel on their receivers to the channel being used in that next gallery.
Once again the National Gallery was happy with their exclusive gallery tour experience provided to their VIP guests by means of the Vox Tour Guide System. The National Gallery considers Vox as their trusted supplier of Tour Guide Systems for ad-hoc events in the Gallery, which will include the next Frieze event when it returns to London in October 2019.
■ Case study | Tour Guide Systems:
Getting ahead of the crowds at Stonehenge
Evans is London’s oldest and largest tour operator, with over 85 years’ experience in delighting customers. Specialists in city tours and out-of-town excursions, Evan Evans provides unforgettable journeys and experiences to Britain’s most iconic locations. As part of the Travel Corporation family of brands, Evan Evans is driven by service and committed to providing immersive and unique experiences that journey deep into the heart of Britain’s incredible history, culture and legends.
One of the busier tours offered by Evan Evans is the full-day excursion to Windsor, Stonehenge & Bath. An operationally challenging itinerary, it involves guiding in both Windsor and Bath, as well as an extended stop at Stonehenge. While the tour guide is not allowed to provide commentary at Stonehenge, an interactive audioguide is available from the visitor centre. However, this presents obstacles to the overall guest experience: not only does the group have to queue to collect the audio headsets, there are often insufficient numbers available. This has the potential to result in lengthy delays and disappointment among customers. The challenge, therefore, is how to deliver a seamless customer experience that helps prevent customers associating this potentially negative experience with the Evan Evans brand.
The Vox 360 is a cutting-edge, hybrid guiding system which delivers multiple benefits to both guide and group. Crystal-clear commentary is delivered from the tour guide via a microphone to each customer’s individual earpiece. This unique experience ensures customers do not miss a word of their live commentary, while the tour guide is able to deliver an equally immersive experience to all members of the group. The Vox 360 unit also functions as an interactive map and audio guide, so Evan Evans guests may individually explore the site, while receiving the official English Heritage interpretation of Stonehenge in 10 languages.
Evan Evans customers who are taken to Stonehenge receive the same information as those from other tour operators, without the need to queue for audio guides at the visitor centre. As a result, customers can spend more time at the Stonehenge circle and visiting its world-class exhibition centre. On trips to Bath and Windsor, the Vox tour guide system ensures each customer never misses a word of their expert tour guide’s live commentary, and each guest receives the same user experience.
■ Case study | Tour Guide Systems:
RICHOU Voyages & Vox Collaboration
The RICHOU group, founded in 1952 by Aimé and Jeanny Richou, is undoubtedly one of the leaders in France, particularly in Western France thanks to their 29 agencies and their passionate dedication. They offer a wide range of products and services including tours, package holidays, cruises and coach trips.
Richou Voyages was very keen to be able to provide their customers an add-on benefit to all their proposed trips. In addition, and more importantly, they wanted to resolve the predicament of being able to communicate efficiently in places where tour guides were obliged to respect the silence.
In order for the Richou Group to meet these requirements they chose to collaborate with the Vox Group by offering their Radioguides for all their guided tours of their group and package tours.
As a result, Richou’s customers were highly satisfied and appreciative of this extra service, discovering that it greatly enhanced their travel experience. Richou was able to provide the real added value that they were looking for, and every year the number of Richou’s travellers benefitting from this service increased.
■ Case study | POPGuide:
More and more engagement for hotel guests
Manet Mobile Solutions is a travel tech company that has developed Manet, a fully customizable digital concierge for hotels. Manet is available as a mobile app or a smart device, and it accompanies hotel guests before, during and after their stay. The Manet Device helps hoteliers offer their guests a tailor-made experience, allowing the latter to make the most of their stay. Thanks to Manet, hoteliers can also streamline daily operations and increase their revenues.
Travelers Travelers and tourists usually face difficulties when they look for information about their destinations. In addition, printed materials (such as flyers, maps, tourists guides) are difficult to carry around and consult while walking. Manet addresses all these issues: it allows tourists to easily find all information and services of their hotels and take advantage of travel tools, tourist guides, interactive maps and many other travelers’ perks, in just one easy to use paperless solution allowing them to enjoy their stay, save time and respect the environment.
Manet Mobile Solutions and POPGuide teams worked together to develop customized digital audio-guided tours for Manet Devices. Therefore, Manet users can take advantage of multi-language audio-commentaries about hundreds of destination specific POIs directly from their Manet Device.
This service is currently available in Rome, Milan, Assisi, Florence, Riccione, Venice, Verona, Pisa, Madrid, Barcelona, Copenhagen, London, Nice, Paris, Athens, Salzburg, Singapore, and the number of available cities is constantly increasing. Audioguides enrich travelers’ experience through facts and stories narrated by local experts and art historians.
Manet is setting a new standard for hotels and their guests. It helps hoteliers digitalize ancillary services sales as well as availability of all comforts offered by accommodation facilities to their guests.
Thanks to Manet travel tools and other innovative features, travelers can benefit of free unlimited calls and internet connectivity and fully enjoy their destination. By adopting POPGuide, the Manet solution has become increasingly attractive both for hotel guests and for hoteliers as Manet users enjoy a richer travel experience and hoteliers get a powerful tool capable of making their guests’ experience potentially unique and unforgettable.