● 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.
For instance, a tour guide system that might be perfectly designed for the visitors of a candy factory is likely not the same solution emergency first responders should be using in the field. Additionally, 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 affects the 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.
Some businesses seek out assistive listening devices for ADA compliance purposes. If that’s the case, then you’ll need a system that meets the minimum requirements for your facility.
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 WiFi solutions, amplified sound, or radio transmission. Below is a discussion on the pros and cons of each.
Generally WiFi isn’t used to provide audio assistance for guided tours, but it is possible. It can be accomplished by having the tour guide connect a microphone to a portable WiFi 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
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
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
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 tends to cause 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.
An open communication line would allow multiple users to talk at any given time, which could be a bit overwhelming during a tour. The alternative is to 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 squelching 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.