• Tour Guide Systems enhance the communication between speakers and their listeners, but not every solution is the same.
• Ask providers good questions to narrow down the communication tools that will best meets your needs.
• Take note of environmental factors impacting your communication to select a tour guide system that performs most effectively in those areas.
• Ensure the providers you consider buying from are reputable and reliable.
• Make a final, informed, purchasing decision on a tour guide system that achieves your end goals.
When shopping for a quality tour guide system that can fully satisfy your communication needs, there’s quite a bit to consider—often more than one might think.
Efficient communication devices are easy to source from vendors online, but at the end of the day, choosing the tour guide system that will work best for you takes some comparative research.
This isn’t something to take lightly either, as the option you’ll end up going with probably costs a pretty penny. Moreover, if a tour guide system doesn’t perform to expectation, you could find yourself having purchased more frustrations than solutions.
For instance, when using a tour guide system professionally, unreliable hardware could easily result in lackluster tour experiences, unimpressed clients, and lost business. If for personal use, one might find themselves having a poor time on an expensive vacation due to communication troubles. In either case, these problems can largely be avoided by taking the time to compare different systems and then confidently selecting your best option.
With that said, here’s everything to keep in mind when conducting your own search for a tour guide system.
Questions to Ask as you Talk to Different Providers
With a quick phone call or email, tour guide system providers should be able to answer any questions you have about their products—and how well suited they are to your organization’s situation.
In fact, to best cater to every customer, most tour guide systems are sold on a case-by-case basis where providers won’t even list costs on their website. This is because, to give an accurate price estimate, a detailed discussion about the full scope and range of the features you require from your communication system needs to take place first.
But before diving into any of those conversations, it’s best to take a moment to prepare the questions you might want to ask providers first to help discern whether their tour guide system’s performance is right for you.
Here’s a few good questions to ask providers about the tour guide systems you’re considering:
• How Long is the Battery Life? – Nobody likes an unexpected dead-battery, especially when it interrupts a tour for visiting customers, or the showcasing of a factory production floor to potential investors.
Depending on what they are used for, different tour guide systems will naturally need to maintain different battery lives. Ensure you know whether the communication hardware you’re considering will last long enough to suit your needs in the field.
• How many Devices Pair Together? – Some tour guide systems are designed for smaller intimate groups, some are designed to communicate with multiple large groups at the same time, and others are made to do both.
When discussing the communication tool you want to use, make sure to account for how many devices can pair and interact with each other at the same time.
• Can you use Different Headsets? – Certain communication systems only pair with certain communication accessories.
Meaning, if you want users to have options between wearing noise-canceling industrial headphones, their own personal music earbuds, and everything in between, this is something to ask about.
• Can you Add Units later? – The current needs for your tour guide system might change over time.
Perhaps your business is expanding, or an updated communication process wants to be implemented. If you’re anticipating such growth, then its important to know whether the option you pick can accommodate additional units down the road.
• DECT or Open Channel? – The communication technology behind your tour guide system is also a big factor.
For instance, when compared against traditional open channel communication that allows everyone to speak at the same time, DECT (or digitally enhanced cordless telecommunications) devices use their own personal radio spectrum so there’s no competition between the airwaves of other wireless devices. Additionally, DECT tour guide systems allow priorities to be assigned to a tour leader’s transmissions to ensure that they aren’t spoken over during critical tour moments.
Depending on the method of communication desired, then it’s important to ensure the system you choose is founded on either open channel or DECT technology.
• What is the Total Price? – Tour guide systems are diverse in their designs, and in their costs.
Once you’re finally on-the-phone and discussing your tour guide system needs—including everything from the type of hardware you want to use, to the accessory equipment that’ll come with it—the representative you’re speaking with should be able to give you a firm number on how much this will all actually cost you.
Determining What a Good Fit Would Be
The biggest question to ask yourself when looking between tour guide systems online is simply, “Can I use this system to meet my end goals?”
After all, if you’re hosting a tour guide in an art gallery or a museum, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to use traditionally louder and bulkier devices. In such a case you’d want to find devices that are unimposing to carry, and that better accommodate the respectful volumes and soft-spoken tones of your tour leaders and their surroundings.
Likewise, if you’re looking for a tour guide system to help bridge the communication gap between on-site construction workers, you’ll need something more durable and noise-resistant for them to perform effectively.
All that to say, when searching for a tour guide system that can meet your end goals, you’ll encounter multiple options that are probably capable of doing so. But each brand varies from the next, and some systems that technically can accomplish what you need them to will still be massively inferior when pit against other viable options on the market.
To pick your best result from the crowd, it’s critical to clearly define your specific tour goals before comparing systems.
Here’s some helpful questions to ask yourself when discerning your tour guide system goals:
• What is your Primary Tour Objective? – This might sound obvious, but there are many different applications for tour guide systems. Defining your own objective will help narrow down the most relevant options.
Are you establishing a tour guide system to inform audiences, perhaps about a historical site or educational exhibits? Are you trying to drive productivity by connecting workplace employees through a streamlined communication system, or inspire enthusiasm and business investments by showcasing a production-floor to potential clients? Are you trying to establish a compliance-friendly way for field-workers to safely receive information in noisy environments?
To avoid getting distracted and ending up with a communication solution that wasn’t quite what you needed, the end goal of your tour guide system should remain on the forefront of your mind and lead your entire comparison process.
• Will you Host Multiple Tours at Once? – Not all tour guide systems are built to accommodate multiple tour groups at the same time, and those that do tend to cost more.
Because of this, it’s important to figure out the number of tours you will need to guide at any given time, along with the number of people that are going to make up those groups. That way you won’t find yourself falling short of your initial requirements or overpaying for what you don’t need.
• How Loud is your Facility? – The noise level where a tour occurs plays a huge role in the audience’s level of enjoyment. However, appropriate tour guide systems will be able to compensate for environmental sound conditions to enhance their listening experience.
If users need to be able to maintain a quiet whisper while still clearly transmitting their voices, or alternatively, be able to speak and be heard while touring beside deafening machinery, then a tour guide system specially designed to handle such noise-environments is necessary.
• Who will Lead your Tours? – To provide a smooth touring experience, the leaders who are actually guiding audiences also need to be taken into account.
For instance, is only one person expected to lead your tours, or will they need to be able to quickly trade communication equipment between their peers? On that same note, will your tour guide system be concentrated in one place, or need to operate across different groups within your organization? Would it be best to simply pre-record audio that automatically plays to audiences when they reach certain points of their tour instead?
Depending on their design and mode of operation, some tour guide systems are better suited to foster specific methods of tour guidance than others, and this should be remembered when carrying out your comparisons.
Features to Consider between Systems
Tour guide systems all come with their own range of features, and these heavily impact how well they lend toward your communication goals.
It’s very important to plan out which features are most imperative for your tour guide system to contain. In fact, aside from general quality concerns, it’s likely that the features a system provides will be your biggest deciding factors.
Here’s a list of some of the most important features to consider when shopping around:
• One-way or Two-Way Communication – Depending on the type of tour to be led, it’s preferable for audiences to experience either 1-way or 2-way communications.
For example, if a tour guide system is being used to lead large groups of schoolchildren through a Zoo, then 1-way communication from the tour guide to the audience would likely be optimal. That way, guides can inform listeners without interruption, and tours can move at a steady pace.
But if investors are being shown around a worksite and want the ability to ask questions, or a group of friends want to stay in touch while traversing a loud outdoor environment, then two-way communication between everyone would be best.
• How Participants use the Device – There are a variety of ways that tour guide systems are worn and used, meaning you need to select a design that comfortably fits with your own tour’s intended purpose.
You’ll see communication devices worn through neck and belt loops, clipped to shirts, or simply held in one’s hand. Meaning, if leading a hiking tour on a mountainous path, handheld options are probably going to be an ill-suited choice due to the free-range of motion that hiking required.
This all might seem like a small thing to overlook, but the way tour participants wear and interact with their devices has a massive impact on total audience enjoyment.
• Range of Communication – A tour guide system will be of no use to you if its reach doesn’t span the entire route of your intended tour, or connect user devices across the distances they’ll actually be from one another.
The online product specifications of different brand models will detail how far the effective operating distances of their tour guide systems are, which will help narrow down your viable choices.
• How you Charge and Connect Devices – Tour guide systems have varying methods of charging, docking, and connecting to other devices.
Some will automatically link together while docked in the same charging station, while others require users to tune into the same radio channel or connect by simply holding a button while in the same vicinity.
Since ease-of-operation is such an important factor in every tour, be sure to research the actual user-experiences of the options you’re comparing.
Gauging Price Differences
Speaking directly to a tour guide system representative will help you get a fast cost estimate, but when trying to gauge how pricey a model seems off-hand when performing early research, there are a few key characteristics that’ll influence your expenses to look out for.
Here are some of the biggest influencers on a tour guide system’s cost:
• Audio Quality – Clear audio quality requires more expensive hardware than your run-of-the-mill walkie-talkie.
By looking at the performative applications for which a tour guide system was designed for, you can get a fair idea of how high the audio quality of different brand devices will be. For instance, if a company promises to provide crystal clear sound in the midst of noisy industrial environments, you can expect that their tour guide system doesn’t depend upon cheap audio.
• Material Quality – The physical makeup of your devices will dramatically influence the cost, performance, and feel of the tour guide system you employ.
Cheaply made models tend to fall apart at the slightest wear and tear, so it’s important to find a model that will last. But at the same time, more durable materials will set you back a greater sum.
• Number of One-Way and Two-Way Units – As expected, two-way communication devices include a more complex manufacturing design than their one-way counterparts and are therefore more costly. It’s important, then, that an unnecessary number of two-way devices aren’t purchased when one-way devices can get the job done just as effectively.
Take a moment to assess how many two-way devices are actually required to meet your needs. One per tour group so the leader can speak to audiences? Two per group so multiple leaders can guide a group together? Or many per group so that everyone can ask questions or provide input as desired?
Accurately planning for the right kind of communication devices here can notably reduce a system’s total order cost.
• Headset Type – There are a variety of headset designs that come with unique shapes and sizes, methods of use, and performance qualities.
As mentioned above, you’ll want to acquire devices that meet your noise-control needs, that are fit to wear in your environmental conditions, and that clearly transmit sound—and prices will vary accordingly. Whether your tour guide system is able to pair with third-party headphones or must operate between brand-specific options can also impact the flexibility of your headset capabilities and costs.
Additionally, when estimating headset expenses, don’t forget to account for the total number of units that will need to be ordered for both the speakers and audiences of your organization.
• Accessories – On top of the price your tour guide system’s communication equipment, there’s also the accessories that it relies on.
Remember to account for the costs of everything from docking stations for holding and charging devices, to storage options and carrying cases for transportation, and protective covers that help prevent devices from incurring accidental damage.
Choosing a Reliable Provider
Reliable tour guide system providers can be trusted to supply quality products—and remain on-hand to offer support afterward when needed.
Before moving on with any purchasing decisions, a brand’s reputation should be investigated. Otherwise, a company’s product that seemed appealing at first might prove to be more trouble than its worth.
Here’s the main areas where you can assess a provider’s reliability:
• Where their Equipment comes from – It’s important to ensure that your tour leaders and audiences are working with dependable equipment.
There are plenty of similar looking—yet significantly weaker performing—white labeled products imported from cheap manufacturers in China, and other knock-off tour guide systems that should be avoided.
As you conduct brand research, check to see if you are buying directly from the manufacturer, and whether that manufacturer is a dedicated professional audio engineering company or not. Such providers are always going to be your most reliable choice.
• Brand Reputation – Customer service is key facet of most business, and the same is true when it comes to choosing your tour guide system provider.
On brand websites, and through some focused online searches, you’ll be able to locate the reviews of previous tour guide system customers. Rely on these to get a good sense of the customer service quality you can expect, and whether the brand’s audio devices are as effective as they claim to be.
• Customer Support Capabilities – If you encounter any trouble with your communication devices and need help troubleshooting, you’ll want great customer support.
A lot of a brand’s customer support capabilities can be appreciated from customer reviews alone, but there are some other areas you will want to check for. For instance, how available the company’s customer support team is at any given time, and whether the tour guide system’s return policy is customer-friendly in the case that you are unhappy with your purchase.
• Equipment Demo Options – There’s no better way to understand how a tour guide system works than by trying it for yourself.
To guarantee your satisfaction, make sure that the provider you’re talking to offers a trial period for their equipment first. That way you can see firsthand how reliable their equipment is, how responsive their customer support is, and whether the value of their services is worth the cost.
Making your Final Decision
Choosing the best tour guide system for your purposes can be tricky.
Because so much depends on how you are going to use the system, what environment your tours are going to take place in, the number of people that are going to be involved, and the kinds of devices that you are going to need to use, the total cost and performance of any given system purchase won’t be immediately clear.
But by keeping the exact needs of your tour guide system in mind and comparing the different products you come across against them, you’ll be able to find an option that meets your organization’s unique end goals.
For instance, the cutting-edge tour guide systems we offer at Listen Technologies would not be such an appropriate choice for:
• Long Distance Communication – Our devices do not maintain a stable connection beyond 200 meters.
• Heavy Environmental Impacts and Emergency Services – While effective for most communication needs, ListenTALK devices are not designed for the dynamic high-stress scenarios of emergency services.
• Applications Requiring an Open Channel – ListenTalk devices assign priorities between leaders, and then audiences, meaning not anyone can say anything at any time.
But our ListenTalk systems ARE perfectly suited for:
– Manufacturing and Plant Tours
– Employee Training and Field Communication
– Leisure Tours, Hikes, and Vacations
– Museum and Monument Tours
– Backstage Communication
– Religious Services
– Conducting Simultaneous Translations
If interested in learning more about how ListenTalk is able to meet the goals for your tour guide system, feel free to contact one of our representatives or request a free demo of our products.