Tour Technology Options: What’s Right For You?

Key Points

• Learn the pros and cons of various types of sound systems
• Learn which sound system is your best option
• Learn which sound system best fits your budget

A tour guide system is a portable wireless system that sends an audio message to an audience of listeners in situations that either don’t allow or make difficult a normal conversation between a presenter and an audience.

In general, there are three types of sound systems: amplified sound, Wi-Fi and radio transmission. In this article, we explain each type and talk about the pros and cons of each one so that you can better determine which tour guide system will best suit your needs.

Amplified Sound Tour System

When most people think of an amplifier, they think of a big boom box on stereo equipment. Most electronic components today, like televisions and computers, have amplifiers — which simply means they have a base system in which a speaker produces sound. While this gives a good definition of an amplifier, the Amplified Sound Tour System can also include cupping your hands around your mouth to direct your voice to a group while raising your voice so that you are heard.

Sound waves move a diaphragm inside a microphone, and the microphone converts the movement into an electrical signal which fluctuates to accurately represent the fluctuations inherent in a sound wave. Because the microphone produces a very small electrical current, that signal must be amplified. In other words, the audio signal must be boosted so that it has a larger current. This is the role of the amplifier, which functions to produce a more powerful audio signal.

Pros: An amplified tour system requires very little equipment, typically only needing either fixed or portable speakers. Amplified sound systems typically work very well in outdoor spaces.

Cons: When using an amplified sound tour system, the participants must be within earshot, and they are not effective with any background noise, even if it is mild. While many systems advertise noise reduction capability, the systems typically do not work well when there is significant background noise. For this reason, an amplified sound tour system does not work well for people who have hearing difficulties. Furthermore, these are one-way systems – the participants can only listen but cannot interact or talk via the tour system.

Wi-Fi System

Wi-Fi tour systems are used with your existing wireless network. The system contains a directly connected microphone by which you can broadcast your voice. In a larger setting, wireless microphone systems connect directly into the system.

Pros: Because the systems are wireless, the Wi-Fi network can be used in a variety of settings to stream audio from the leader to participants. The systems are very versatile. Because these systems are Wi-Fi enabled, participants can also stream audio to their own devices. Because the systems have a single audio source, the apps are relatively simple and intuitive to use, and participants generally have an easy time connecting to the audio.

Cons: While the systems are typically very consistent inside buildings (usually up to 100 feet in any direction), based on the quality of the internet router and the speed of your internet, Wi-Fi tour systems sometimes do not work well in outdoor spaces where the signals can be spotty and inconsistent. While the base system is generally low-cost, add-on devices can add up, particularly if you have a large group. If you just buy the base system, then you are requiring each participant to bring their own device, which they may not be able to supply.

Radio Frequency (RF) Transmission tour system

This form of wireless audio equipment works by converting audio signals into radio waves then back to an audio signal. Radio waves are fast; they travel at the speed of light and therefore are able to travel a significant distance from the source of the sound. This is why radio frequencies are the ideal form of transmission for all forms of audio applications.
Just like sound, a radio wave is characterized by both its frequency and its amplitude. Frequency is measured in hertz (cycles per second), and the radio spectrum ranges from a few hertz to beyond the gigahertz (GHz) range.

Pros: Whether you need a stationary or mobile system, or a wired or wireless system, RF transmission tour systems deliver results. RF systems are also very budget friendly; the most basic systems are very inexpensive – the less peripherals you require, the less you will pay. You can purchase a basic system, and over time add a variety of accessories to it as your needs grow. The most advanced wireless systems offer multiple transmitters that reduce the chance of sound dropouts.

The great news is that RF systems are self-contained systems that are not reliant on external factors. As such, these systems can be used anywhere a tour is occurring and there is very low latency between the transmitter and receiver. Even better, these systems do offer the volume control that the other options do not; participants have the luxury of setting their own volume.

Cons: RF systems can have a limited transmission radius and can sometimes be interrupted by interference. Radio frequency interference is radiation of radio frequency energy; it causes an electronic device to produce noise that interferes with the function of a nearby device. In fact, most electronic devices emit RF interference. ListenTALK employs device shielding to help control the radiated radio frequency interference to acceptable levels.

What Is Your Best Option?

At Listen Technologies, we know that intelligible audio is vital to running a successful tour. Therefore, we built ListenTALK to eliminate channel interference and other audio disturbances. Your participants will hear you loud and clear.

If you need either one- or two-way communications as well as the option to switch back and forth between the two to communicate with groups large or small, a ListenTALK tour guide system offers a very professional way to engage and inform your participants. Perhaps you want to step up your game and “wow” your guests with a novel entertainment. Or perhaps you aren’t using a tour guide for entertainment at all, but rather to ensure proper communications and safety compliance on a work site. Our company has provided ListenTALK solutions in all these situations, including:

• Leisure tours
• Museum tours
• Backstage communication
• Religious services
• Simultaneous translation
• Manufacturing plant tours
• Employee training and communication

The completely portable system has an impressive range, from 100 meters indoors to 200 meters outdoors, for ultimate tour flexibility. We do not recommend ListenTALK for communication over distances longer than 200 meters, or for applications where you need an open channel on which anyone can say anything at any time. We also do not recommend ListenTALK to be used in environments like oil rigs, Coast Guards, or heavy construction communication.

Budget is of course also a consideration, and ListenTALK offers flexible options fitting groups of two to 100+, with choices in headsets and transceivers. We can customize a solution that is within your spending range. The ListenTALK tour guide system is a complete portable system that includes headsets, transceivers and docking stations. Our systems can meet the needs of two people to as many as 100 people and can be completely customized for your environment.

Key Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Tour Guide System

Key Points

● Wireless tour guide systems can greatly increase the effectiveness of your tours
● All tour guide systems will have their own unique features and benefits
● Factors such as your tour/facility environment and the size of your groups will play a role in determining which system is right for you.

There are many important factors to consider when purchasing a tour guide system. You’ll want to choose the system that works best for your environment and meets the unique needs of your business.

But where do you start? How do you know which tour guide system is right for you? Listed below are several questions you’ll need to ask yourself before you can make a decision.

What is the purpose of having a tour guide system at your facility?

Is your goal to interact with participants and engage them in conversation? If so, then you’ll want to consider a tour guide system that offers two-way communication. If the purpose is simply to inform and educate users, then a one-way device may be sufficient.

Systems designed for the same purposes will still have notable performative differences between them. Finding what works best for you will come down to the individual factors that influence how your groups experience sound.

Things like room size and surrounding acoustics, the number of listeners that need to be reached, and how far audiences are from the person who’s actually speaking need to be accounted for. If you’re leading multiple groups on outdoor excursions, guiding a smaller party through cramped interiors–or need to be able to switch between both–that changes things too.

What are the conditions like where you conduct the tours?

You need to make sure that your tour guide system is suitable for the environment that it will be used in most. Understanding the conditions will help you determine if additional features will be necessary.

For instance, are the tours at your facility conducted in loud, industrial environments?

If so, then participants may need to wear personal protective equipment such as hard hats, ear muffs, and safety glasses. Make sure your tour guide system is compatible with these requirements and/or fits comfortably underneath their safety gear.

Tours that are conducted in quiet environments may not need any additional features.

What is your budget for a tour guide system?

How much are you willing to spend on a tour guide system? Is your budget an accurate reflection of your tour goals?

In some situations, you may be able to rent the system equipment instead of purchasing it outright. However, if you plan on using the system long-term, it’s generally going to be much more cost-effective to purchase the products.

Choosing a Tour Guide System

There are a few different ways that you can incorporate audio into your tours. The three most basic approaches include using Wi-Fi solutions, amplified sound, or radio transmission. Below is a discussion on the pros and cons of each.

Wi-Fi Solutions

Wi-Fi can be used to provide audio assistance for guided tours. It can be accomplished by having the tour guide connect a microphone to a portable Wi-Fi device, and having participants stream the signal from an app on their own mobile phone or tablet.

Pros: Only the tour guide needs to wear specialized equipment. Little latency and clear audio with good connection; Participants can use their own device

Cons: Time consuming for everyone to get setup; Does not support two-way communication; Requires participants to download an app; Results in delays and audio latency; not optimal choice for outdoors

Amplified Sound

Another option for providing audio assistance is using amplified sound. An example of this would be to have the tour guide use a megaphone or portable speaker to project his or her voice. Another example would be using your facility’s overhead PA or intercom system.

Pros: Minimal cost; No additional setup required

Cons: Does not support two-way communication; Have to be in close proximity; Does not provide a positive experience for participants; No adjustment of volume for participants

Radio Transmission

The third way that you can incorporate audio into your tours is by using a system that utilizes radio transmission. This involves the use of portable, wireless equipment such as headsets and radio transceivers.

Pros: Allows for either one-way or two-way communication; Provides clear and reliable sound; Easy to use; Can function indoors and outdoors; Multiple styles and configurations available to meet your specific needs

Cons: Involves a higher cost for equipment and setup; Potential interruptions by interference; Defined transmission radius

Practical Considerations

The other factors you’ll need to consider when choosing a tour guide system depends on the practical application of how you’ll use it. Think back to our discussion on the purpose of having a system at your facility.

One-Way vs. Two-Way Communication

For some guided tours, one-way communication is all that is necessary. This is most common in situations where there is little to no conversation between the tour guide and the participants.

However, many applications require two-way communication on guided tours. On-site training for new employees, staff meetings on the production floor, and settings that involve a lot of Q&A (such as museum tours) are all excellent examples of situations that require two-way communication.

Radio Communication Setup

The primary difference between the various types of radio transmission devices is what type of communication channel they include.

An open channel can potentially receive massive static and interference. A closed channel on the other hand locks in the signal between the transmitter and receiver (tour guide and participants), which prevents outside signals from interfering.

You’ll also need to decide when and how your participants can ask a question or communicate with the rest of the group.

It is recommended that you have a system that can set up a 2-way call/respond feature in which the presenter would have an open line at all times, but the participants would need to hold down a talk button in order to communicate.

The Process of Conducting a Tour

What does the process look like for actually conducting a tour? Will you have multiple presenters for each tour, or just one? How quickly do you need to equipment to charge, get setup, and be distributed among users?

These are all questions you’ll need to answer to make sure you choose the right tour guide system for your facility.

Nothing pulls people out of the moment, and loses their attention, like the need to stop and troubleshoot technical difficulties. Leaders don’t want to waste their time fumbling with convoluted equipment when giving tours or presentations, and audiences–who will likely be using your tour guide system for the first time–aren’t guaranteed to show much patience in figuring out an obscure device.

Because of this, the best tour guide systems are designed to be intuitive and user-friendly at a glance. Adjusting volume and connecting devices should be obvious and effortless, with a design simple enough to refrain from becoming distracting. The most user-friendly options will even accommodate a range of third-party accessories, from industrial headphones to standard smartphone earbuds, in order to ensure that its users can operate in whatever way makes them most comfortable.

Tour Guide System Specifications

Finally, you’ll want to consider the particular specifications of the product. How important are things like durability and battery life?

How many devices will you need for your facility? If you only use the equipment occasionally and for smaller groups, you won’t need as much inventory. But for tours that operate daily with large number of participants, you probably need a larger supply.

Be sure to also inquire about system accessories, such as charging stations and protective cases.

When a tour guide system is working properly, the speaker’s voice will transmit clearly to all connected listeners instantaneously. Audience members will also have a comparable listening experience across-the-board, with no feedback, sound distortion, or garbled speech. Lastly, the connection between communication devices should remain stable and strong at all times.

Granted, the transmission quality of a tour guide system is hard to assess until you’re trying it for yourself. To quickly get a sense of a communication system’s audio quality, your best bet is to check for trustworthy customer reviews online.

A Tour Guide System That Works for You

Choosing the right system can be tricky because so much depends on how you’re going to use it. Things like your environment, the size of your tour groups, and various other factors all need to be taken into account.

ListenTech provides customers with an ideal solution for tour guide systems in a variety of settings. Our revolutionary product, ListenTALK, is a portable and wearable wireless tour guide system that transmits audio from the presenter to group participants.

It’s perfect for industrial workplaces, leisure tours, museum tours, and more. To learn more about implementing ListenTALK as your tour guide system, download our free brochure today.

Tour Guide Pros Offer 14 Insider Tips for an Enticing Facility Tour

Key Points

• Guided tours of any kind function best when the tour provider offers a sound system that allows everyone to hear the narration clearly.
• Tour guides must be ultra-familiar with their material and be willing to engage participants in an immersive way.
• Knowing the particulars of one’s audience is essential to a quality tour that’s geared for a particular demographic.

If you’ve ever been charged with the task of providing tours of busy, noisy facilities – like crowded factories or huge warehouses – you understand how frustrating the process can be for both you and those who are your guests.

Or if you’ve ever been one of those guests, you also know how aggravating it is to struggle to hear and understand the important information the guide is dispensing as you scramble through rows of hectic activity. Sometimes you get to the end of the tour and have no idea what you’ve seen or heard.

Being the guide on a facility tour can be fun and interesting, but no one benefits if the tour doesn’t tick all the boxes and accomplish its purpose. Just as with a traditional tour guide in a travel setting – such as someone who’s taking a group of tourists to experience the history of the Parthenon – there are several ways you must prepare for your tour so that it goes off without a hitch.

Here are a few tips the pros offer that can help you present a tour that’s not only informative but also enjoyable.

1. Know your audience – This is probably the most essential aspect of any tour, be it in an enclosed facility or out of the streets of an historic city. It’s important to learn about your tour participants before they arrive. What do they know about your facility? Are they familiar with what’s done there? Have they worked in this field? Are they young? Older? Why are they touring? Do your homework so that you can craft your tour to fit the parameters of your group. For example, if your tour group knows nothing about your facility, you’ll need to keep the language simple and explanations succinct. Technology-savvy younger visitors might get different lingo from you than would older, less tech-knowledgeable guests. And if your visitors are investors, for example, you’ll need to talk about things like profitability. So, do a little digging first so that you can craft your tour to the right demographic.

If I offered you $1000 to learn the names of everyone on your tour within 2 hours, I guarantee that you would have them all locked in your mind within the first half hour! The sign of a great guide is one that shows interest in their group! It makes a huge difference to feedback and the whole vibe of the tour if you can make them feel like they are a valued participant.

2. Know your material – It’s awkward to be peering at your notes while you’re leading your tour, so commit the information to memory before that first tour happens. If you need a little help, bring along a map of the facility and write some bullet points for each stop you plan to make – just a few words at which you can casually glance before speaking. If possible, do a sample tour for some willing co-workers so that you can make sure you’re ready. Always have your face to the group and back to what you are presenting so that they see what you’re talking about as you’re talking about it.

3. Once learnt, throw out the script! – Having an outline and revising what you are going to say and how you are going to say it is obviously extremely important, however remember you’re not a robot and you’re not on Broadway (although if you want to take your story telling to this level, knock yourself out!). Your tour group isn’t after a perfectly manufactured script. They want to feel like they are getting a unique experience and trust me, they aren’t there to watch you recall a memorized script. Not to mention that every group is different! They laugh at different things and will pick up on different aspects of what you are saying. It is key to gauge your audience and adapt what you are saying to suit them! For example, I’m not going to talk about the Eiffel Tower to a group of architects the same way I am to a group of primary school students.

If you can do as many practice run throughs as possible, taking your friends or colleagues around your routes, let them interrupt you, as this will happen on tour, encourage them to ask you random questions to train you on how to be flexible with the angle in which you deliver your information.

4. Tell them something about YOU – You might be surprised to find out that others want to know something about you. So, provide your guests with some memorable info about yourself. While you don’t want to eat up lots of time providing personal information, give them more than just your name and relationship to the company for which you work. Provide them with a tidbit or two about your life. How about mentioning that time you biked across the country? Or that goof-up you made on your first day on the job? Or when your co-worker dropped that bucket of paint on your head? Just a little personal information makes you more relatable and makes them more comfortable.

5. Assign yourself an Ass Man! – One of our biggest fears as a tour guide getting back to base camp only to discover that little Jimmy is no longer there with you! This is where an Ass Man comes in handy! This doesn’t (only) mean assigning someone to check how your behind look in your jeans but somebody who can stay at the back ensuring that the rest of the group is sandwiched between you and them.

I have found this to be the most simple, effective and efficient way to keep the group together in a non-militant fashion as all you need to do is look back to check if you can see your ass man! If they are in sight your whole group is together. I like to assign my ass man at the end of the first stop as this gives me time so scope out who lingers at the back naturally and who seems like they would enjoy a touch of responsibility. Ask for volunteers for an assistant manager; ass man for short. I have never not had a volunteer and nine times out of ten it creates a team bond between you and them.

6. Infuse some humor – No one likes a dry, boring tour, even if the facility they’re touring isn’t really all that exciting. But you – the guide – can certainly figure out how to elicit some smiles and chuckles. If you’re not naturally funny, you might have to work a little at coming up with some jokes. Or perhaps you can speak to employees beforehand and seek out some humorous stories of work-related adventures or incidents that you can re-tell as part of your spiel, where appropriate. Even the most somber-looking group enjoys a chance to laugh, and humor is a good icebreaker as well. Most of all, be yourself. It’s not likely you’d have been chosen for this task if you were dull and boring!

7. Work on how to tell a good story and get the group involved – Being a good storyteller is a skill that can get you far in this job! The people on your tour haven’t paid for you to bombard them with a bunch of stale dates and facts that they could have found after a 30 second Google search! They have come to be enlightened and to feel a connection with what they are seeing.

A story includes 3 basic elements: a main character, conflict or tension, and a plot.

The characters in your story need to be relatable and humanized so that your clients can connect and empathize with them. Create a nickname for them or a recurring joke about them. The main character doesn’t even have to be human for you to do this! Disney has been using this trick for years!

The plot of your story needs to engage your group’s curiosity, throwing up a lot of intriguing questions. As you’re telling the story, move around the group. Get the group to take on roles or use them as props. Change your voice. Ask them questions. Keeping your story dynamic, animated and interactive to engage your audience.

8. Use visuals – There was a great tour guide, well known in the city of Cologne, Germany, who literally used to bring two bottles of cologne with him on all his tours – cheap and expensive – which he would spritz on the guests in his tour groups. It made the history of the city come alive and they loved it! Visuals are a great way for guests to get “up close and personal” with what’s going on rather than viewing things from afar. People love to touch, hold, and smell things associated with your tour and such visuals serve to break the monotony.

9. Enthusiasm is contagious! If you’re passionate, they will be too! – Think about a subject you are interested in for a minute. Chances are you were inspired by someone just as, if not more, passionate than you are now. You are the one who sets the tone of your tour. If what you’re talking about bores you silly, they will be just as bored as you. However, if you pick the stories and titbits that genuinely get you excited, I promise they will be as buzzing as you are!

10. Ask questions of your guests – One of the mistakes tour guides make is to assume that their audience knows nothing about what they’re about to see…but that’s not always the case. So, before you get on your way, ask questions that allow you to gauge their knowledge of what you’re about to show them. If you do that, you can avoid making your explanations too elementary or too difficult. It’s also okay to make questions part of your tour narration as well. This helps you to make sure they’re understanding what you’re telling them and engages them by giving them an opportunity to speak as well as listen.

11. Make time for their questions – Some guides are so worried about sticking to their schedule and to their narrative that they don’t allow time for their visitors to ask questions. Nobody wants to feel like they are being frog marched around by a coldhearted tyrant. You want your tour to feel like a safe space where people can relax, have fun and ask you anything, no matter how stupid they may feel asking it. Experienced tour guides always plan for specific places within their narrative to answer questions. However, if you haven’t asked for questions yet and someone raises their hand, don’t ignore them. If it’s off-topic, give as brief an answer as possible and tell them you’ll expand on your answer later. You can always take them aside at the end of the tour and address them personally.

12. Be sure you can be heard – How many times have you been on a tour where the guide is using just their unenhanced voice to speak? Unless you’re at the front of the pack, it’s hard to hear and extremely frustrating, especially when you’re excited about the presentation. There’s nothing worse than missing all the info because the guide isn’t wearing any sort of sound device that amplifies his/her voice or sends it directly to you via headphones. So be sure you employ the use of a sound system that works for all your guests, whether they’re ten feet or ten inches away from you. Investing in a solid sound system is money well-spent and will also be a time-saver in the long run as your guests will be able to hear you the first time, eliminating the need for extra questions and for you to repeat information you’ve already given. Carefully check that the system is working before you enter the noisy space and check it again once you’re dealing with lots of background noise to be sure it’s still functioning properly.

13. Be willing to help even after the tour has finished –The tour doesn’t end the second you arrive back at tour base camp. Clients often wait until this time to talk to you directly without having the whole group listening in. Be ready to set out time for yourself at the end to chat to the people with whom you have just been on tour. Thank them for coming and offer to help them with any extra questions or doubts and mean it! Giving practical advice, if solicited, as to how to obtain tickets for a venue or restaurant recommendations may also go down well at this stage.

14. Be yourself! – Cheesy as it may sound, the secret to be a marvelous tour guide is to play to your strengths. There is nothing more painful than watching someone who doesn’t have a single funny bone in their body spending three hours failing to become the next Kevin Hart. If you are sarcastic be sarcastic, if you’re calm and soothing be calm and soothing, if you’re not, don’t be!!

How Tour Guide Systems Solve Noise-Level Challenges

Key Points

• Noise-level concerns are a major barrier to group communication in sound sensitive environments.

• Tour guide systems are designed to effectively foster communication in areas where there’s plenty of noise, and environments where quiet must be maintained.

• Adopting a tour guide system requires a brief transition period, but the results that follow are more than worth the effort.

Noise can be a real pain, especially when trying to create an enjoyable tour experience or effective working environment.

Though “noise” isn’t to be confused with “sound”—the stuff you want people to hear—such as the voices of tour guides, team members, and field leaders. Rather, “noise” is your background racket, the distracting overlap of clangs and clamors in a business environment that interrupts your flow of operations.

From the piercing whines and rumbles of construction yard equipment that hampers the listening ability of field employees, to the heavy thuds of manufacturing machinery on production floors that prevent touring investors from being able to hear, ask questions, or take a lucrative interest; noise is a constant a detrimental factor toward the goals of countless organizations.

But thanks to the advantages of modern communication equipment, there are solutions out there that can drastically mitigate the negative impacts noise presents.

How Environmental Noise relates to Group Communication

Organizations need to foster effective communication between their groups to ensure that their daily processes can be carried out smoothly. Otherwise they are bound to encounter a series of unwanted, and largely unnecessary, problems.

For instance, if workers can’t coordinate their efforts in the field due to the volume of their environment, then productivity is naturally going to falter. Likewise, if trainees can’t hear what their trainers are saying, then their attention will wane, and they aren’t going to effectively learn what they need. At the same time, trainers and team leaders will find themselves getting irritated that nobody is paying attention to them.

Meanwhile in tour settings, audiences who can’t comprehend key information due to a poor sound environment will quickly find themselves feeling frustrated, and as if their time is being wasted. When showcasing sites to visitors and VIP guests who hold a lot of influence over an organization’s goals, such a scenario is simply not acceptable.

But noise-level issues don’t just concern loud volumes.

In some scenarios quiet communication must be constantly maintained, such as with museum and gallery tours, catering businesses that need to discreetly coordinate during high-profile events, and other common noise-sensitive environments where communication is key. In such cases, effectively operating and keeping noise low at the same time can be very difficult to achieve.

However, regardless of what environmental noise problems exist—quiet or loud—many tour guide systems are able to provide the solutions you need.

How Tour Guide Systems address Noise

The versatile communication devices of a tour guide system can be easily applied to overcome a range of noise-level challenges.

From using special two-way devices that mitigate loud noise and allow voices to transmit clearly at normal spoken volumes, to unique listening equipment that’s specially designed to excel within overly quiet environments—tour guide systems are one of the best ways to address organizational noise concerns.

For some examples, just look at how our own ListenTALK systems address these common issues:

Because it’s so critical that guests are able to hear and engage with speakers, regardless of how large a group’s size is or what the noise-environment they inhabit is like, our one-way and two-way devices come in a diverse range of options to provide the flexibility you need to foster communication channels that excel in your specific noise environment.

At the same time, all our products operate on priority-based transmissions to prevent the chaotic chatter of multiple speakers trying to talk over one other.

ListenTALK systems are also compatible with multiple headset and earphone options, with different models made to meet the varying requirements of different quiet to high-noise environments. Additionally, for ease-of-use during busy daily processes, each of our systems utilizes effortless push-to-talk functionality and comes encrypted to ensure your communications remain private.

When putting these features together, the noise-solving applications expand to new heights. Whether supplying the means to offer assistive listening to hard-of-hearing audiences or providing communication tools that make the heavy noise of a manufacturing floor virtually negligible, ListenTALK devices are standing by.

However, implementing a new sound system does take some added work.

The Hurdles of Implementing a Good Tour Guide System

When an organization adopts any new tools, having their teams’ transition to its new processes takes some time and effort.

For instance, team members will need to get used to keeping track of communication devices or making sure that devices are charged for the next group’s use. While typically made to be intuitive and user-friendly, the way to properly operate a tour guide system still needs to be taught as well.

But after the initial hurdles of getting used to these new tools are behind you, the high-performance communication that tour guide systems provide will become a natural, effective, and welcome part of your organization’s routine. Really, the hardest part of adopting a tour guide system is simply finding a reliable brand to buy from—and picking the best model for your groups to use.

For more information on shopping for effective communication tools, asking informative questions when speaking to tour system providers, and making sure your purchase is a good overall fit for your organization, feel free to check out our detailed guide on How to Compare Tour Guide Systems here.

How to Compare Tour Guide Solutions

Key Points

• 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.

How to Use ListenTalk in Your Facility

Key Points

• Background noise can severely limit the amount of communication that takes place in an industrial setting.
• ListenTalk systems provide a simple solution that will work in a variety of scenarios.
• Effectively communicating to investors, executives, trainees, and others on facility tours can guide the safety of participants, provide a medium for clear communications, and ensure a good experience for all involved.

How to Use ListenTalk in Your Facility

There’s an old rule of thumb that’s used for checking if the noise levels in a facility are high enough to require hearing protection. The rule says that if you are standing three feet apart from a coworker and need to raise your voice to be heard, the noise level is loud enough to require hearing protection.

This rule may be a friendly reminder for when to wear hearing protection, but it leaves out some critical considerations when it comes to communication in the workplace. If you have to raise your voice to be heard at three feet apart, what if you are communicating to a large group on a tour or training? What if those individuals are wearing earplugs? Does only the nearest one who you are projecting to actually hear you? And for the rest of the group, how much of the message reaches them? Are the words clearly heard and understood, or are some participants walking away with no idea what was just said?

When it comes to safety, these communication issues must be solved to make sure the communications get through loud and clear. One way to help convey the message is the use of ListenTalk systems.

Safety

Many incident investigations reveal that failures of communication were a root cause of accidents and injuries. Think of situations where missed communications in your workplace could lead to issues. One example I have experienced was instructing new employees on the safe routes to take across a facility, not realizing they couldn’t hear the instruction.

Another example is maintenance professionals coordinating a task over the sounds of a noisy factory. Typically if teams are working in different areas, they may be communicating with radios, requiring their hands to be free or by the use of a signal person. However, with ListenTalk, maintenance crews can hear the same message and be hands-free.

Although using ListenTalk will not provide hearing protection, it will give the assurance of clearer communication.

Training

Of the times that employees are likely to be injured, the first few months in a new job are some of the most dangerous. On-the-job training almost always has a large portion that occurs in the field. If employees can’t hear the instructor during training, they are much more likely only to grasp the concepts partially, if at all.

What key elements of the safety program rely on training in the facility to make sure employees can do their jobs safely? What issues could be caused if this training wasn’t heard?

In today’s complex industrial spaces, employees have to understand procedures. This could involve technical issues like lockout tagout or simpler tasks like operator’s routes. If the original training suffers due to poor communication, so will the employee’s long term performance. Using ListenTalk systems can provide an easy way for the trainer to communicate with employees.

Tours

I have gone on tours of so many facilities where the leader was followed by a group of people who were just smiling and nodding. Have you ever seen this? Occasionally, a leader may even point at a specific process, and everyone turns to look, but you know the group has missed the entire explanation.

I’ve been there.

I’ve also given these tours and questioned if any of my messages were really getting through.

When guiding any visitor from executives to students to investors to consultants, issues with communication can be detrimental to the situation.

Investors

The investors want to know if the company is safe before making a decision. But how can you explain complex industrial safety systems to people who aren’t familiar with the equipment? Often, the explanation has to lead to understanding to help sway a decision.

Executives

For our executive visits, I was once put on the spot by a group of C-suite professionals who wanted to know everything about a recent incident. I was able to explain it on the floor. Still, when we reviewed the specifics back in a conference room, I found that many had watched where I was pointing, but couldn’t hear me and had all come to different conclusions about what had actually happened during the incident. This caused a lot of concern and confusion. It took over an hour to sort out and get everyone on the same page. That entire issue could have been avoided with a communication system.

Visitors

Hosting visitors like students and families of employees can be a great way to get community support. However, visitors are usually not accustomed to the serious hazards of industrial environments. This means tours need to be conducted with a focus on safety. Simple things we take for granted, like staying in pedestrian paths when forklifts are present, could be totally new to a visitor. Instructing visitors where it is safe to walk and how to behave in an industrial facility is a critical part of making sure the tour is safe and fun.

Often the purpose of tours is to educate members of the public about the facility. This involves explaining concepts and describing processes. These communications have to be heard, seen, and understood be to be appreciated by the audience. An enjoyable tour can result in better community support and more interest from potential future employees. It’s a great chance to make a first impression. ListenTalk systems can help to facilitate that.

Using ListenTalk in Your Facility

There are plenty of good reasons to incorporate technology that assists communication in noisy environments. For most of us, safety is the most important. The communications a business makes to stakeholders, executives, and members of the community are also crucially important. Using a system like ListenTalk can ensure that your message gets across clearly while visitors stay safe.

Is Your Tour Guide System Right For You?

Are you using the right tour guide system? We understand you want to be the leisure tour of choice in your area. That means you need your guests to hear and engage throughout their visit because you don’t want them to feel like they’re missing out. How can you do that, though?

The answer is ListenTALK, an intuitive tour guide system from a company with decades of experience that will help you transform your business into a sought-after destination. Here are five ways ListenTALK will help you revolutionize your leisure tour business: Read more

ListenTALK Abroad: A Trip Through London and Rome

On a recent trip to London and Rome, I decided to take along Listen Technologies’ tour-guide product, ListenTALK (Full disclosure – I work at Listen Technologies). Although there would only be four of us in the group, it presented a great opportunity to use the product for long periods of time in outdoor and in crowded environments.

Our first adventure using ListenTALK was a boat cruise on River Medway in Maidstone, UK. The information, stories, and instructions given by our guide as he piloted the boat made the tour very enjoyable. We could hear clearly over the noise of the outboard motor and the occasional passing boats. Asking questions and having conversations with each other added fun to the cruise.

 

At one point we came to manual, do-it-yourself locks on the river. Since we had never operated locks, we thought it would be fun to try them out. At a landing before the locks, we jumped out of the boat and walked to the locks which were about 50 yards away. Our guide (still on the boat) gave instructions on what to do to operate the locks. The audio was clear, and we were able to hear and understand the instructions to operate the locks successfully. I was pleasantly surprised by how well we could hear each other at that distance.

In Rome, being able to communicate in crowded outdoor areas was enjoyable as we could wander off to see something of interest or be separated by crowds and still be able to talk to each other. The many other tour groups with their tour guide equipment did not interfere with static or talk-over on our equipment. We used ListenTALK the whole day and had plenty of battery life. I would recommend using a windscreen on the tour guides headset as occasional wind noise could be heard.

London and Rome are beautiful and there are so many things to see and experience. Make your experience even better by using ListenTALK, as our guides said, “We’re using Steve’s tour guide gear! It’s good fun!”

 

By Steve Olsen, Marketing Services Manager

Communication + Hearing Protection

Factory tours are an ideal way to show investors, VIPs, the community and others the value of your business.

Noise in factories and plants is a significant issue.

Every year, 22 million people are exposed to noise at work that’s so loud it can potentially cause permanent hearing loss. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration estimates $242 million is spent each year on workers’ compensation due to hearing loss. In 2017, OSHA fined businesses more than $1.5 million for not adequately protecting employees from noise.

Hearing protection is essential for everyone on the manufacturing floor, even those on factory tours. So how can you adequately protect your guests’ hearing while showing off your facility?

Hearing protection is vital for everyone

Loud noises can be dangerous. They can cause hearing loss—temporary or permanent. However, the extent of the damage is determined by the length of exposure and the noise level. Experts say noises above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing damage. For example, a conversation usually is around 60 decibels. An idling bulldozer hits 85 decibels.

Loud noises damage or destroy hearing, but how? Inside the inner ear is the organ of Corti, which is responsible for hearing. It reacts when its microscopic hair cells are activated, ultimately stimulating the nerves for hearing, which carry sound to the brain. The frequency of the sound determines which and how many hair cells are activated. When you listen to loud noises, you can damage or break the hair cells. That, in turn, hurts your hearing.

Communication + hearing protection

When you’re hosting important people on factory tours, they need to be able to hear you. It’s also helpful if you can listen to them. However, you don’t want to take any chances with their hearing.

ListenTALK is the solution you need. This easy-to-use communication system is wireless and portable, and you determine what kind of headset to use. If you’re on a noisy factory floor, you can choose headphones that offer added ear protection. What makes it even better is the sensitive internal mic. Even on a noisy factory floor, you don’t need to hold it up to your mouth. All you need to do is wear it around your neck on a lanyard and push the talk button to speak. Plus, the tour leader unit isn’t the only one with a mic. Everyone on factory tours can talk to the leader and each other, for guaranteed clear two-way communication. It’s also lightweight, and guests can attach it to their belts or purses with a clip, or use a lanyard.

Because loud noises can permanently damage hearing, it’s important not to neglect hearing protection for everyone on your factory floor. That includes your guests on VIP factory tours. ListenTALK will help protect everyone’s hearing, while also providing crystal-clear communication. Are you ready to try a unit?

Adventure awaits with ListenTALK

Have you ever experienced your tour from the perspective of your guests? Are you sure it’s as exciting as you think it is? We’re here to tell you that there’s always room to improve. Should you be adding a story? Maybe using a prop?

That’s a lot of questions, but really, how can you make your tour stand out?

It’s time to treat your tour like a performance, but not a one-person show. Nothing will kill a good tour mood faster than a tour guide delivering a no-interruptions-allowed monologue. Each tour should be different because each participant will add their own flair to the experience.

When starting your tour, make sure each attendee is hooked up to a ListenTALK device. Nothing foils the tour experience more than a tour guide that can’t be heard.

Tell them a story. Good tour guides know the facts and retell them in a way that invokes excitement and involvement. Great tour guides will take you on an adventure through time and space.
Know your flow. The bulk of your tours will be the same day by day but allow yourself to cater to the adventurous souls of your participants. You’re allowed to spend more time engaging them with the things they’re interested in and breeze through other parts of the tour. Don’t fear the flow.
Set your script—then stray from it. The majority of your tours will follow the same script tour after tour but allow yourself to stray from the script. Take your time to create the tour narrative beforehand, then get to know your participants. When you allow your participants to engage in your storytelling, their questions and comments will help you personalize each tour.

Groups are more engaged when they can actually hear. You’ll be surprised that as each member of your group wears their own ListenTALK device, tour engagement will shoot through the roof. The back of your group will be just as enthralled with the adventure as the patrons in the front.

Taking your tour groups on an adventure will be more memorable than presenting them with a memorized monologue.

Now, go ahead. Take a risk. Tell a story. Adventure awaits with ListenTALK.

Listen Technologies
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