Make Your Own Walking Tour App (And Maybe Even a Business Too!)

One of the most fun aspects of traveling is enjoying a tour and learning about the area you’re visiting. Up until recently, in order for travelers to engage in local walking tours, they would either have to join a group, hire a pricey private guide, or lug around a stack of guide books and maps to find their way around. This is not the case anymore. As the popularity of self-guided tour apps and walking tour apps continues to grow, apps such as Field Trip, Cities Talking, and DETOUR go above and beyond to to provide exceptional tours. Mobile tour apps now provide location-aware results, real-time maps, audio tours, geo-notifications, photos, along with local tips, history and more.

While these apps are great, they are also becoming so popular that if they are not careful, they might just wind up creating the same disengaged and distant point of view of their predecessors out of sheer popularity. This is hard to avoid without continual feet on the ground, local updates, and maintenance – a task often far out of reach for large global guide services working to cover hundreds of different tour locations.

So why not create your own local walking tour app?  You can update it anytime and continually maintain it with all of your favorite destinations and spots. Not only could you share your tour app with unlimited numbers of people, you could even charge a small fee for users to use it. You better be careful though – if you do your job right, you might accidentally end up creating your own walking tour app or audio guide business.

The creation of local tours is not only fun, exciting, and rewarding… it’s addictive!  Once you create a successful tour app you’ll want to make more. But remember the magic of a great walking tour is not in the quantity that you can create but in the quality of experience that you can provide to the end user.  The appeal of popular local guide apps comes from the continual pursuit of local… an intimate and up-close point of view. You can achieve this too with the creation of your own walking guide app.

So.. Where Should You Begin?

Step 1 – Choose Your Subject

New Orleans Walking Tour AppThe first step is to pick the topic of your walking tour. It is important to remember that while an audio guide’s primary focus is on the depth and delivery of rich content, walking tours are all about the physical journey and emotional experience you can take users on.

Do you want to show off historical buildings, take users on a stroll through the local park, on a walk down the beach, or on a pub crawl? When choosing your topic, it is critical to think about the hopes, dreams and expectations of your tour participants. Will users walk through a beautiful forest, along a flowing stream, explore ancient ruins, or explore back alleys filled with merchants? While some travelers are looking for adventure, others are simply looking for intimacy and a connection to the “local.” Examine and reflect upon how participants will feel after taking your tour. Will their lives be enriched? If you have a favorite local tour that you are passionate about, chances are others will like it too. Once you’ve chosen your topic, define it clearly.

Step 2 – Be Smart and Map It 

Now that you have a plan for the topic of your walking tour, it’s time to map it out. First things first, get a map and chart the path. Look at the distance. Look at streets and plan accordingly. What’s up, what’s down, what’s hot, cold, windy or wet? What’s safe and what’s unsafe? How long will it take? Map it all out and highlight multiple routes. Is there a short route and a scenic route? What about shortcuts? Is your walk too long? Typical walking tours can range between 30 to 120 mins and cover a distance on average of between 1-3 miles (1-5 kilometers). Anything more will be too much. If you want to create a longer tour, you can create a day trip tour app for cars or cyclists. Last but not least, consider the age group and interest level for your tours. Three miles of museums won’t work for most, while a 3 to 4 block city stroll along the river may have a much broader appeal. Finally, determine if your tour qualifies as family- and child-friendly. Is your tour suited for people with disabilities? If you want to go one step further, many people now often travel with pets – consider how they will be affected. Be smart. Map it out.

Step 3 – Gather Walking Tour Information

Gather Walking Tour InformationNow that you have chosen a topic and mapped out the general path, it’s time to gather information and begin your research. When creating an audio tour, you can collect much of your content online. However, a walking tour requires you to get out into the field, and this where the hidden treasures await! Your job as a walking tour guide is to be able to articulate and point out these local treasures to others.

Pack a notebook, pen, and camera. When you arrive at the beginning of your tour, take detailed notes. Be sure to include important topographic details like having to climb a hill or go down a steep road. Point out specific landmarks and milestones, fences, doors, windows, signs, and street crossings. You want to be as thorough as possible; don’t surprise your users with a treacherous river crossing. The more detailed you are, the happier your users will be and the more smoothly the tour will go. Also, check your phone while taking your tour to make sure that there is cell phone reception. If you find that there are points when reception is nonexistent, you will either need to have offline capacity-enabled or have your entire tour be downloaded beforehand. Sometimes there can be cell phone shadows in deep inner cities where large buildings have blocked out a mobile signal.

You can’t be too thorough while creating your walking guide, because there is nothing worse than taking a tour that was created by someone who hadn’t even taken the tour themselves. Be as specific as possible, and don’t assume that just because you’re a local you know the area by memory. When you go out on your information gathering assignment, you will discover all sorts of new and interesting sights.

Step 4 – Create Your Tour Introduction

Shrimp PlatterOnce you’ve collected your notes, it’s time to write your tour introduction. This intro needs to give a brief overview of what the tour will cover as well as share any important details such as where the walking tour will begin, where it will end, and how long it will be. Tell users what to bring as well. With a walking tour, offer recommendations such as what types of shoes people should wear and outdoor gear they should bring (i.e. hat, sunglasses, jacket etc.). Next, describe the terrain. Will it be flat and easy or a strenuous hike? You should also include if the walk is accessible for those who have disabilities, and if it is family- or pet-friendly. Finally, speak to the dream of the customer and set an expectation for the hopes of what they can experience when going on your walking tour. Here’s a great example of a walking tour introduction:

New Orleans Food Walking Tour of the French Quarter

Visitors of all ages will enjoy eating their way through the French Quarter on this food‐filled 3‐hour walking tour! The Locals Guide to New Orleans will take you on a culinary journey to famous markets, cafés, bakeries and food carts across the French Quarter. Your stroll will take you along the Mississippi River where you will taste sugar‐dusted beignets, a stuffed muffuletta sandwich, gin‐infused chocolate and our favorite chargrilled oysters. Along your 3-hour walking tour you will learn about New Orleans’ rich and complex culinary history. This is a walking tour not to be missed! Tour distance is .63 mile. Casual clothing and comfortable walking shoes suggested.

Step 5 – Make It Interesting and Fun For All Audiences

Now it’s time to think about the types information you want to include in your walking tour. No matter who your audience is, you want to make your tour fun, interesting, and informative. Make sure you use your personal experience, as well as the experience of your friends and neighbors while creating your tour. Remember, walking tours don’t just need to be all about walking, you can include additional activities, like eating, drinking and sightseeing. Engage the user with rich local experiences and opportunities. Include personal stories and fun facts about the area. It’s also a great idea to include multimedia resources so that users can learn even more about the area in their mobile tour experience.

Step 6 – Plan Your Tour Organization and Flow

Now you can begin to write out your tour with all the information you’ve collected. Write roughly a paragraph for each step, with transitional statements that will help the tour flow easily. Be sure to include interesting details and facts along with anything you think is necessary. The goal of writing these paragraphs is to make an outline that has short chunks of information for each step. Remember to be specific by including concrete examples and instructions

 

For example: “When approaching Bourbon and Orleans, make sure not to miss the historic Bourbon Orleans Hotel. The hotel will be on your right as you approach the main intersection.”  

Below is a simple tour template you can use to create your own walking tour:

Tour Name
Tour Details
Tour Overview
Tour Introduction
Stop 1
Stop 2
Stop 3
Stop 4
Stop 5
Tour Summary

Step 7 – Document Your Walking Tour

Although users will be able to see things themselves in person, photos still play an important role when it comes to building your walking tour app. A photo can help your users know what landmark to look for, as well as which direction to move. Take clear photos while you’re out in the field. Provide simple yet accurate descriptions. Including closeups or multiple angle shots can be useful in helping to point out special features that otherwise go unnoticed. Great tours go above and beyond to share those unique and interesting details that often go unnoticed. Your photos should do the same. Last but not least, get special permission by a local museum or institution to get closeup and bonus photos. Below is a sample showing closeup photos of a gargoyle at the Notre Dame Cathedral. From the ground, the gargoyles are very small but with the help of your tour app photos, visitors were able to get just a little bit closer.

 

Step 8 – Test Out Your Tour on Friends

Once your walking tour is finished, ask a friend to take the tour. Does it flow easily? Does it make sense? Did your friend learn something new? If they answered “yes” to all those questions, then your app is ready! Take the walk a few more times before launching your app to make sure everything is in place.

Step 9 – Publish Your Tour

When it’s time to publish your walking tour app, you will have several online options. Here at LocalsGuide.com, we offer an online hosted app solution that can help with the creation, management, and monetization of all your walking tour needs. You will have full control to be able to design, create and publish your own guide apps, along with possibly even building your very own walking tour app business.

Please let us know if you have enjoyed our blog by posting any comments below.
If you are interested in learning more about the LocalsGuide PRO –  Location Aware App, click the button below to take the next step.

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Create Your Own Audio Guide App

One of the best parts of traveling is being able to venture out on your own and learn more about the local area. If sitting on a hot and cramped tour bus with 36 other tourists is not your idea of a rewarding travel experience, you’re not alone. Now, more than ever, travelers are looking to find rich travel experiences.

Imagine being able to offer visitors from around the world the opportunity to go on their own self-guided tours 24 hours a day. Rather than having to hire an expensive tour guide, lug around a library of travel guides, maps and brochures, or sit in that cramped tour bus, you have offered them a cheaper, richer, and more convenient alternative.

Yes, I am talking about creating your own audio guide app. Available in Android, iOS and HTML5 visitors, users can download your app anytime day or night from around the world. You can offer audio tours for free or charge a fee for them.

Once visitors download your audio tour app, they will love the freedom and flexibility it can offer them. Your app will help take them behind the scenes, and get them up close and personal with interesting local facts and history. No more pricey tours, early morning rendezvous, or traveling around with a pack of tourists.

Be your own guide and explore the things that are most exciting and interesting to you… when and how you want!

In today’s blog, we will explore the creation of audio guide apps, including why and how to make them. With the proper platform, research and planning, you can easily launch your own audio tour app that can be enjoyed for years to come.

Why Make an Audio Guide App?

Convenience

With smartphones now the norm, they have become the means by which we navigate more and more of the world. Mobile guide apps are far more convenient than traditional print guides or audio guides, and will replace them over the coming years. Rather than rent a portable audio device from a museum and listen to a limited selection of recordings, every visitor can have a dynamically-updated app on their own phone, to use at their own convenience, making it easier for both users and guide creators.

Fun

Are you passionate and knowledgeable about your local landmarks and community? Do you have a unique perspective or depth of knowledge you’d like to share with others? Share that perspective with the world through the creation of audio guide apps  – and have fun while doing it! Get your friends and local community involved and create something that represents you, while keeping it fun and interesting.

History

Your community has rich and unique history – capture this information and then share it with visitors from around the world! You can tell stories that haven’t been heard with your audio guide, conduct mini interviews, review interesting local or niche histories that have been ignored by traditional guides. Your efforts will be appreciated by generations to come.

Long-term Recurring Revenue

By putting in the work upfront to create your audio guide, you can create value and bring in recurring revenue over the long term! You can monetize your app in whatever way makes sense for your community, such as offering additional in-app purchases, banners, or creation of a niche tour which is then sold to an institution or city government.

How to Make an Audio Guide App

canstockphoto31205145

Step 1 – Choose Your Subject

First, pick the topic of your audio tour. Will you do a museum, art gallery, or historic monument, a beach, park, or other nature destination, or a walk through a number of points of interest?  Will you create a stationary audio tour, a tour which a user can listen to anytime anywhere, or will you create a walking / traveling audio tour? If you are planning on doing a traveling tour, check out our upcoming post on walking guide apps. These tours require different considerations in specific that walking tours are more focused on the type of experience a user will have within a specific journey while stationary audio guide tours are more focused on the depth and value of content that can be shared. What ever type of audio tour you decide to create, consider the conditions a user will be using your app and plan accordingly.

canstockphoto7599442

Step 2 – Gather Tour Information

Next, do any required research and gather your supplies to begin mapping out your audio content.  While content for many audio tours can simply be found online, other types of tours will require traveling to the designated tour location. Before you visit this location, bring a notebook and pen (or digital equivalent) and a camera. When you arrive at the site, take notes and pay special attention to any details, large or small. Remember to be as specific as possible in your instructions, tips, and insights. You want to be as thorough as possible. Your users will thank you with great online reviews and by sharing your app with fellow visitors. Make sure to bring your phone and check your cell signal. Sometimes in dense urban environments or inside large building you can encounter a weak or non-existent cell phone signal. If your tour goes through a shadow, you will either need to have offline capacity enabled or for your entire tour to be downloaded ahead of time.

The key is to thoroughly think through the user experience. There is nothing worse than taking a tour that was written or created by someone who never even took it themselves. Make sure you know the area that your tour will take users through, and then take the time to actually do take the tour yourself. Don’t presume that just because you frequent a tour location you can do it all from memory. If you are creating an audio tour that has people following maps and directions verify that your walking the right direction. Double check landmarks and milestones. A door might have been repainted, business name changed, house constructed or sign removed.

Step 3 – Create Your Tour Introduction

So you’ve done the field work and you have an encyclopedia of notes. It’s time to organize your data and write out your audio tour introduction. Your introduction needs to will give a brief overview of what the tour will cover and then will review any important details such as where the audio tour will begin, where it will end, and how long it will take.

Once you have done this return to collection of tour information and begin to break your content up into individual chunks. If you are doing a museum tour, you may want to do a recording for each painting, then group those files onto a page for each room or wing of the building. If you want your users to follow a certain path, you need to map out the path step-by-step. If it is free form and they can listen in any order, organize your information in an intuitive and ordered way.

Step 4 – Make It Interesting and Fun For All Audiences

Now it’s time to talk about the types of information that you will want to include in your audio tour. Regardless of who your audience is your audio guide tour should be interesting, fun and informative. If your creating an audio guide for kids think consider what their point of view would be on the topic just as much as if you were creating an audio tour for a gallery connoisseur. Make sure to tap into your personal experience as well as the experience of the community  and colleagues while creating your walking tour. Include historical facts and personal stories about the area. Answer questions such as “When, where and how but also take the next step and include additional opinions, tips or interesting trivia. Because your audio tour will be in the form of a mobile app, you can also build in all sorts of interactivity, from bird sounds, to videos, urls, and phone numbers. You might even want to consider adding in a tour survey form at the end. Providing additional resources for your app users to learn more about their tour experience is a great idea.

Step 5 – Tour Organization & Flow

Now that you working on the writing of  you tour it’s time to consider your tour flow and organization. You can do this by writing out short little paragraphs that describe each point of interest. Then weave these paragraphs together with transitional statements that help to move your app user from one location to the next. Remember to include interesting details, facts and technical data along with the app. Many app users will enjoy reading as well as listening to what you have to share. The main goal in completing your script is to create a linear outline with short blocks of information for each destination. Here is an sample outline you can work with.

• Tour Name
• Tour Details
• Tour Overview

• Tour Introduction
• Stop 1
• Stop 2
• Stop 3
• Stop 4
• Stop 5
• Tour End
• Survey Request

Step 6 – Incorporate Multi Media into your Audio Guide App

As we mentioned above consider going above and beyond to take a multi media approach to tag along with your audio tour. You can only image that in the future video, interactive surveys, and learning apps will become the norm.  If this sounds like to much effort just start with photos. Photos are everything! Walk through your location and take clear, high-resolution photos. Document closeups and unique seasonal and interesting characteristics. A photo can help users figure out where they are or where to look to learn about a particular detail, such as a hand-carved door, a historic marker or plaque. We encourage you to take the photos yourself, or if you don’t feel comfortable, ask someone else to capture them for you. Great local photos are an essential part of creating a beautiful app.

Step 7 – Share Your Tour With A Friend

Once you have completed your final audio tour outline. All research is done, content written it’s time to read it to a friend. Ask them for advice and feedback on timing, tour flow, interest, curiosity. Also asked them if they learned anything new. Get all the feedback and advice you can to reach a final smooth and concise audio tour script. If you did your homework well then your audio tour should flow smoothly, while delivering great content in a timely manner. If you have achieved the following result then you are ready to record a final cut.

Step 8 – Record It

It’s now time to record your script and you have several choices to make. One of the first and most important choices is who will be the voice of our audio guide. Will you hire a professional or voice the tour yourself. Next you will need to decide if you will read from a strict script or go with a more unscripted casual read. A casual reading style will allow the narrator to take a more natural approach in delivery of content. Often times going with a more casual style and injecting personality can keep things enjoyable and will help your audience to connect with you. What ever you choose always remember that the main goal is to provide a clear and easy-to-hear presentation. When recording, remember to speak clearly and utilize proper recording technologies.  As a final creative result, you want to have an individual mp3 file for each stop along your tour.

Step 9 – Publish It

You’ve reached the finish line of creating your own audio guide tour and it’s now time to publish it in app format?  With so many options to choose, where should you start? We’ve gone ahead and listed a few of our favorite app companies below and also encourage you to try out our own audio guide app with LocalsGuide.com.

Additional Resources

  • Andovar – Audio and video localization services in any language.

Voice Recording on iPhone

 

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Basic Elements of Great Local Guide Apps

Basic Elements of Great Local Guide Apps

You want to make your guide the best source of information out there for travelers who want to learn about your town and what it has to offer. In order to do this there are several basic elements that your guide should follow.

Organize like your life depends on it…

What with technology constantly evolving and the population always a few steps behind you want to make your city guide as easy to use as possible. This all comes down to organization. You need to separate all of your content into categories and subcategories that make sense. Your app should be a clear pathway through the forest of information and not a potholed overgrown deer trail. Travelers want something easy to use, so do your best to appeal to that need.

Interesting Content

You want your app to be engaging and interesting. Keep your information short and sweet, no long-winded explanations about a historical tree. You want to include just the most interesting facts and bits of trivia that only a local would know. It’s a good idea to include a link to another website that has more information, this way people can choose to learn more.

Remember to double check your content! Be sure that it is true, relevant, and up-to-date. This is crucial when it comes to contact information. Check out the websites of different businesses and be sure that the phone numbers and addresses are correct. Make sure you update any information that is time sensitive, such as theater and venue showtimes.

Engaging Photos

Not only do you want your app to have good information you want appealing images to excite your app users. Perhaps they weren’t too excited about going to that park but then they saw the picture of the giant sequoia tree tucked away near the Japanese Garden and they immediately jumped in their car. You want to choose photos of good quality and that best show off your city. When travelers see the beauty of your town they will want to experience for themselves and that’s what photos are for.

Location, location, location…

Say you’re traveling and you’ve heard a lot about this specific beach that you want to check out, but you’re having a really hard time finding directions. When you finally learn how to get there you discover that the drive is almost three hours long and it’s already noon. There goes your plan for a picnic on the beach. Now, imagine the same scenario but instead you whip out your phone and find the beach with the help of a city guide. The creators of the app were helpful enough to give you directions to this magical place, and with the location aware setting on your phone you’re able to see that, with little traffic, you can be at the beach in just under three hours. You pack up your picnic and head out.

This is why finding the correct addresses is extremely important. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to find a restaurant or a cool store and not being able to find the address. There are also many places where you can find the latitude and longitude of areas that may not have addresses. Google Maps is a great resource as well as latlong.net. If you are creating an app about outdoor recreation latlong.net will be a huge help. Your app is going to be traveler’s local tour guide they keep in their pocket, so you want them to see where all the local trails, parks, and scenic drives are with the little to no searching.

Why Create Your Own City Guide?

City guides lend themselves as a great self-employment and community-building opportunity. Some of the most popular uses of city & local guides include: niche city and town guides, regional travel and tourism guides, walking and audio tours, and historical and speciality guide apps. Your city guide can be as large or as small as you like. Thousands of people all around the world have successfully created their own mobile city guides already. As a world leader in city guide creation, we want to help and inspire you in you every step of way.

Here are 8 great reasons for why you should consider creating your own city guide as your next business venture:

Reason 1: Locals Know Best

As a local, you already know more than most, which is why making a local city guide app is completely within the realm of possibility. You have all the local resources at your disposal: websites, radio, newspapers, magazines, and most importantly, friends and neighbors who can provide you with important local feedback and information for creating your own local guide.

Reason 2: Build The Future You Want See

Imagine a mobile guide which provides you with all the most relevant and valuable local information, such as news, events, hikes, restaurants, shopping and beyond. You can create a city guide today that will inspire people to see and learn the best about the community in which you live! Why sit back and watch what others will do to create the future when you can create it yourself!

Reason 3: Promote Local Tourism

While some travelers may not be as concerned with getting away from the traditional tourist traps and distant guide experiences, more and more people are looking for ways to travel like a local. Your custom city guide apps can offer this opportunity to visitors from around the world coming to visit your town or city. In return, you will play an active role in helping to support your local economy and increase local tourism.

Reason 4: An Amazing Business Opportunity

Mobile city guides offer an exciting opportunity for you to fully unleash your entrepreneurial potential. The best part is you are in full control. Be your own boss, work late or take the day off. Your guide can be as small or as big as you decide. From design and creation to marketing and promotion, you are 100% in control. The freedom found from your newfound city guide business will keep you inspired to grow and create even more guides!

Reason 5: Build a Local Referral Network

Despite large tourism guides and online directories, locals still depend on one another to keep up-to-date and get the most current and valuable local information. Closely guarded locals’ only secrets are often times only discovered via a direct local connection or word-of-mouth referral. However, niche hyperlocal city guides offer a more up close and intimate exploration of local treasures previously unshared with the general public.

Reason 6: Mobile Guides Save Trees

Mobile city guides not only decrease the amount of waste material and pollution used in traditional print guides, maps, brochures and magazine, but they also offer a healthier, more efficient means of communication and networking. Online mobile city guides save trees, and with over 42% of the world’s trees dedicated to paper production, we could use some more mobile city guides.

Reason 7: Easy to Do and Maintain

Regardless of your skill level, city guide creation and maintenance can be easily learned and maintained by most. Advanced online control panels allow for quick updates, along with advanced features and services for city guide application users. Users often report that city guide research and setup is one of the most enjoyable parts of the city guide creation. You can then choose to continue to build more city guides while you hire out the maintenance and routine updates of your original guide.

Reason 8: An Opportunity to Give Back and Help Others

Putting together and growing a great guide takes time and effort, but its impact can reach far and wide, bringing attention to things overlooked by larger guides and directories for lack of monetary standing. Cultural and historical city guide apps create timeless enjoyment and value. City guide creations gives you the purpose and authority to meet and network with countless members of your community who will appreciate and support your contribution.