Question: What do you think tourists do more: 1) take self-guided walking tours, or 2) take organized tours of local history and culture?
By a multiple of two and a half times, 27% vs 11%, tourists choose to go on self-guided walking tours. In fact, of the top 51 activities that tourists reported doing while travelling these last few years, self-guided walking tours ranked #5, whereas taking organized tours ranked #41.
This is according to an October 2014 report “Heritage Tourism in Philadelphia: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities” prepared by ConsultEcon Inc. at the request of The Pew Charitable Trusts, and recently provided to me by a trusted friend and colleague “in the know”. (download report here)
So, since more tourists prefer to go off on their own, rather than participate in tours organized by others, do you think historic sites and cultural/heritage attractions are investing enough in making sure these independent explorers are having an optimal experience? And do you think they’re likely leveraging the smartphone technology that visitors are bringing along with them?
Well, probably not, as evidenced by this quote taken from the same report: “There is also a widespread belief that the sector might do better if it could make history more entertaining, interactive, and immersive and more relevant to younger, tech-savvy audiences.”
Focusing on the attractions in Philadelphia’s Historic District, their funding/budget cuts and mostly flat or declining attendance over the last decade, there is a clear need to do more and do things differently in order to grab visitors’ attention, raise their awareness, get them to care, have a good time, return, bring others with them and share their positive experiences with more potential visitors.
Hmmm…how about providing visitors with a comprehensive array of mobile audio tours?
Now, I’m not foolish enough to believe that mobile audio tours are a singular solution. Nor will I tell you that most every visitor would even want to use a mobile audio tour when they’re out exploring.
But, I will say that mobile audio tours can help, and that a meaningful number of visitors will take advantage of them if they’re offered. I will also say that mobile audio tours continue to be woefully underutilized, often misused and too frequently overlooked, despite their unique capabilities and particular appropriateness for exactly the task-at-hand.
This is precisely why we built our mobile audio tour platform – CultureSpots.com – both technologically (works on any standard smartphone, with no app to download/install!) and from a business model standpoint (see our FREE Basic Plan subscription!) so that any cultural/heritage destination can offer their visitors mobile audio tours. [UPDATE as of 7/4/2016 – We have retired our FREE Basic Plan for new subscribers. Current FREE Basic Plan subscribers may continue using the Basic Plan subscription for FREE forever as originally promised. New subscribers can subscribe to the Basic Plan for just $19/month or $199/year (=15% discount)]
And with storytelling being so core to the way we communicate, connect and understand the world, having such an easy, affordable and effective means as CultureSpots for sharing such a wealth of interesting stories with visitors can really only be a good thing.
With all that said, I’d just like to restate our mission to make sure that EVERY museum and gallery, cultural destination and historic/heritage site who would like to offer mobile audio tours, CAN offer mobile audio tours.
It would be our honor for CultureSpots to be one trusted component in an array of offerings from which visitors can choose for a more entertaining, interactive, immersive, and relevant cultural/heritage tourism experience.
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Thank you, be well, and enjoy,
Founder, President/CEO of CultureSpots
Photo credit: Rdsmith4 / Foter / CC BY-SA