Not long ago ‘Audio Tours’ were confined to museums where you carried around a small plastic contraption. It was a real treat when you found a tour that brought the museum to life. Your imagination would run wild as a soft voice told stories and strange facts about the items before your eyes.
With the advent of smartphones these tours are now available anywhere! The whole world is open for storytellers and historians. Visitors can listen to walking tours over their own phone and move at their own pace. They don't need to worry about keeping up with a group or straining to hear a tour guide on a busy street.
Walking tours have grown in popularity because they provide a personal and flexible way for people to explore a new town, city or neighbourhood. They can move at their own pace. They can deviate from the tour. They can explore.
In this article I'm going to give you some guidelines to create an engaging and fun walking tour!
If you're building a walking tour you may have lots of knowledge and ideas. A theme to keep your tour focused as you start building. This has a few specific advantages:
There are some cases where a general walking tour is nice. For example, leading someone around a neighbourhood to get a feel for the community. However, having a theme provides a deeper experience. A walking tour called "An Art Walk Through Cabbage Town" is more interesting and easier to write then "A Walking Tour of Cabbage Town".
With a theme (such as art mentioned above) your tour will venture off the beaten path. The theme will guide you. In our example, finding interesting art both small and large will often lead away from the most popular attractions. As you find new works of art you may be motivated to learn more. Maybe you want to look into the artist of a particular piece to learn their motivation. Maybe even call them to ask!
If you're having trouble coming up with a theme you like here's a few tips:
In short, find a theme! I promise that it will help you create an engaging walking tour that participants will love and that you'll love building. General tours can be enjoyable but when you're starting out why not make things easy on yourself?
Once you've settled on a theme for your walking tour consider how you can make it unique and fun. If you're using an audio tour product like ours here at YourAudioTour you can use the audio in interesting ways. This is also where a theme helps - the focus on the theme might make it easier to come up with a unique presentation of the tour.
Here are a few examples I've seen that can help you come up with ideas of your own:
The key is to use your imagination and think about new ways you might present your information. By making the tour unique you'll make it memorable. Sometimes a small change can make the tour that much more engaging.
If you're having trouble coming up with creative ways to run your tour - don't wait for inspiration. It's much better to get started! You'll find ideas start to flow as you begin to write. It's better to create something rather than waiting until you have the "perfect idea". Tours are super easy to edit so you'll have no problem updating if you have a flash of creative insight.
Like most things in life you should focus on quality over quantity when it comes to a walking tour. Keep it simple. Only include useful information and interesting facts. Try to dive deep into each stop to provide that little bit of extra insight. If you're learning new things as you create your walking tour it's a good sign. If something catches your attention it might make a good addition. The most important thing about a good walking tour is that the visitor is either learning something new or laughing along the way.
The content quality is of utmost importance. Focus on getting the facts right. Use spell check. Keep the stops consistent with your theme and style. One stop should flow into the next.
Outside of the informational content you should focus on using great photos and audio.
High quality photos is one of the easiest ways to make your tour stand out. High quality doesn't mean you need an amazing camera and years at photography school (though if you have access to a good photographer you should use them!!). What you need to do it take a lot of photos and see which one works best. Here are some simple tips that can help start you in the right direction.
The audio is the tour guide for your walk. We all know that a good guide can make a walking tour unforgettable. A bad tour guide can also make a walking tour unforgettable... just not in the way we'd like!
So it's useful to ensure that you have high quality and engaging audio for you walk. Here I'll outline a few different options for recording audio for your tour:
Here at YourAudioTour we use the latest technology (developed by Amazon) to generate audio from your stop descriptions. This technology is always improving and offers different voices and even different accents. It offers a few very nice benefits:
The only downside with text to speech is that the audio isn't perfect. We hope that one day you won't be able to tell the difference between a voice actor and the computer! However, at the moment it can be noticeable that the audio is computer generated. However, this might be a benefit for a walking tour through silicon valley....
The most engaging tours tend to have custom recorded audio. You can use text to speech to test your ideas while you create a walking tour you love. Recording custom audio can help take it to the next level once the tour is polished. Recording custom audio can be easy and inexpensive. Here are some options:
Marketing is important. It is often overlooked when people create a walking tour. If people don't know about the tour how are they going to try it? How are you going to convince people to invest their time trying your tour? Convincing people to try the walking tour is important because it's the reason you made the walking tour in the first place!
You will likely find it harder then you thought to get people to try your tour. That's ok. It's normal. You'll just need to set aside some time to come up with a marketing plan. You'll also need to wait some time. As time passes more people will have a change to see your marketing material and the tour will spread via word of mouth.
Here are a few tips that can help give you ideas for your marketing plan:
Another important aspect of marketing is talking to your visitors and improving the tour. The better the tour the faster it will spread via word of mouth. Take every opportunity to listen to visitors and ask them what they liked an didn't like. If a visitor's complaint makes sense to you or you hear it more than once then make a change! You can consider adding your email to the end of the tour asking for feedback from visitors to help.
You might find marketing the toughest step to create a killer walking tour. But keep at it! Like anything in life it takes time to create something worth while. If you've created a good tour word of mouth will help spread the word. In the meantime you need to get people out walking your tour so they know how good it is!
I hope the above tips help you create an unforgettable walking tour that draws people to your community. Now that you know the tips there is no excuse not to start! The sooner you start building the sooner you can see people walking through your stops!
If you're looking for a simple tool to help you build a great walking tour please sign up for YourAudioTour and give it a try. We've worked to create a really powerful tool for audio guides that's still simple to use. So start building in 10 seconds and turn your walking tour idea into a reality!