Learning How Our Warranty Works

Have you ever read a warranty document? I’ve read a few in my time. Normally filled with legal language and disclaimers, most people simply brush them aside as the last pages of a manual or throw a printed copy of the warranty right into a file folder or recycling bin.

Warranties are important however and not just for the company that issues them. AudioConexus provides one and two year manufacturers’ warranties on our products (depending on the product). What does that mean? And how does it help you?

Our warranties are more than printed ink on recycled paper. We stand behind our warranties. So that means we will support you completely through any problems or issues you may have. While we don’t have many warranty related issues, murphy’s law, there is always a chance that you are the person that needs our help. So what is the process for a warranty related issue? Well, I’m hoping to simplify that for you today.

Warranties are for your protection and assurance – as our client – that everything is going to work well for you. If a product doesn’t work due to a manufacturer’s defect within one year of purchase, we will replace or repair that unit for you right away. If you want to call our technical department to ask questions about your product, we’re here to help. The technical department is set up as a client-facing department. We actively answer questions, provide training and solve problems. We also work diligently with you to uncover the root of a problem so it doesn’t occur again.

To help guide you through our warranty process, we have the following procedure in place. It all starts with a phone call or an email. Please call us at 613-507-1300. Our department extension is 107. Or you can email us at support@audioconexus.com.

Emailing to our support@ address will begin a “Trouble Ticket” in our help desk system. Alternatively, if you’ve already been introduced to our new AudioConexus Help Desk system, you can login to input a help ticket directly.

When we receive your support ticket, we’ll contact you by email (we receive tickets for a variety of requests including user manuals and software training). If you are experiencing a problem, we’ll ask for additional details about the symptoms of your problem. This step may also involve a phone call so we can ask questions or suggest simple solutions, but often pictures of the unit in question will help us as well. If we determine there is a fault with the product, we will immediately issue an RMA number. (Return Merchandise Authorization Number).

Using this number, please ship the unit back to our AudioConexus Head Office address. Please ensure that your RMA Number is noted on the package. When the package arrives at AudioConexus, we will run diagnostics tests on your unit following a rigid Quality Assurance checklist. During this QC process, we will determine if the problem falls under your warranty plan. If your product falls under warranty, we will either repair or replace your product with a new one and ship it back to you at our cost. If the issue does not fall under warranty repair or replacement, we will notify you and provide you with a quote for replacement or repair.

Once your product is repaired or replaced, we ship it back to you. When your unit has arrived back at your location, we ask that you contact us by phone or by email. This is because we will support you in reinstalling or setting up the new/replaced unit so you are fully operational again.

By using our Help Desk system, we’ll catch problems that can be resolved quickly. Often, products do not have to be shipped back to us because we can help you resolve the problem by email, over the phone, or by using TeamViewer. We recommend that we support you before a unit is shipped to us. When we have the opportunity to be involved early on we often find that products may not actually be defective or damaged. We’ve encountered problems such as batteries, loose or disconnected cables, changed system settings, etc. But that’s why we’re here. Client care is really important to us.  So if you have a question please call or email us.

Download our latest eBook: Public Address System Integration – What You Need to Know

If you have any comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Tour Bus GPS Systems and Duplicate Routes Feature

New Tour Bus GPS Systems Feature

In the most recent update of Route Builder software we’ve included a “Duplicate Route” feature. Using this feature, you can now duplicate your tour bus GPS systems waypoints using our online mapping interface.

So why would you want to duplicate the your tour bus route? Some of our clients run very similar routes for different tours. For example, we are often asked to write and produce multilingual commentary for daytime and nighttime tours. While some of the daytime commentary is used on nightly sightseeing tours there are segments of audio that are added to enhance the nighttime sightseeing experience.

Using the duplicate route feature, you can now duplicate your route, its GPS waypoints, and your multilingual audio tours.  Next, simply name your new route and add any new commentary associated with your new tour. There is no need to rebuild your second sightseeing route from scratch making this new feature a valuable time saver.

Once your new route is updated your drivers will be able to select your new tour from the Driver Control Panel. You can assign which route appears a the beginning of your day and quickly and easily change tour routes in seconds.

 

 

Audio Tour Script Writing, 10 Tips For a Better Script

Audio Tour Script Writing - Top 10 Tips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to write a killer audio tour script? It’s more than just the basics. Like writing about history, facts and figures. You do need history, but being really great at history writing doesn’t mean you’ll write a great audio tour. You need to be a storyteller. And an aficionado of sound. Audio tour writers are highly skilled at their craft and know how to bring the success that you want.

Here are 10 tips you can use to write a great script.

Tip #1: Focus on Story, Not Facts and Figures

When writing a script for an audio tour it’s hard to avoid facts and figures. But facts and figures bore people most of the time. Focus on sharing stories the way you’d like to hear them. Use dates, figures and facts sparingly.

Tip #2: The Three e’s: Engaging. Educational. Entertaining.

Really good stories are the best way to engage, educate and entertain an audience. Famed author Studs Terkel said “People are hungry for stories. It’s part of our very being.” Stories have the power to inspire. Write for head and heart and you’ll find your stories are transformed into more memorable tours.

Tip #3: Pick a Theme

While picking a theme for your tour may seem difficult at first glance, it’s essential for storytelling. A theme gives purpose to your stories. When developing a theme ask questions like “what do our stories mean to our visitors? How are we connecting with listeners emotionally? Theme is what your stories are about. It’s what makes people think, feel and remember your stories. It’s the focus of your message and your tour.

Tip #4: Make People Care

When storytelling, write stories people care about. Heard of Ted Talks? Watch Andrew Stanton’s talk, The Clues to a Great Story. He says “make me care… please, emotionally, intellectually, aesthetically, please just make me care.”

Most of us are in the business of creating fun but that doesn’t mean you can’t make people care. By writing for the head and heart you’ll create a narrative that makes people feel good about your tour. Use stories to inform and educate, but also work to uncover compelling stories that connect visitors to your unique destination in meaningful ways.

Tip #5: Don’t Go On and On

If you go on for too long, visitors will tune you out. Keep your audio tour segments below 2 minutes and more often than not – write for 90 seconds for each point of interest. There are exceptions to the rule. But if you try to keep your stories shorter, your guests will enjoy a better tour experience.

Tip #6: Work at it

The process of writing a great script includes rewriting and editing (and editing and editing). When writing a tour script get your ideas on the page. Since a first draft usually isn’t very good, rewriting gives you the opportunity to make all the fixes you need. Pull apart the stories you like by asking yourself if your audience will appreciate them.

Tip #7: Make a Point

Make sure you have a point to your story. There needs to be a reason for sharing your stories and a point of view. When you don’t have a point your stories are less engaging. For example, one of our client’s sightseeing tours in an exploration of the ocean. They’ve been investing locally by building artificial reefs to enlarge overall population numbers of species present in their local area. They believe in and are committed to conservation by rebuilding natural habitats. This is their point. And a big part of their story.

Tip #8: Use Small Words

Our rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Don’t use big words like pontificate or conviviality. Make sure the words you use are easily understood by your audience. Remember, your guests don’t have time to reference a dictionary or thesaurus. They want to escape and have fun while learning something new.

Tip #9: Have Great Conversations

Imagine you’re in a casual setting sharing your best stories with a friend about a recent trip you’ve had. You’re friendly, warm, fun and personal. This is the relationship you want between narrator and listener. To be memorable, narrators need to be able to share your stories like a great conversation.

Tip #10: Think About Sound

When writing an audio tour script think about how sound will enhance your tours? Our writers make production notes in the body of their scripts. They close their eyes and imagine a pregnant pause, the sound of a cannon firing or a jazzy musical piece that fits into their scripts. Audio tour writers consider the opportunity to create emotional responses from music. And they write to create tempo.

When writing for a sightseeing tour, your natural tendency may be to write as many words as you can because there’s so much to say. When this happens there’s no room for dramatic pauses and sound effects (or musical tails that fade in and fade out). Create opportunities for sound by rewriting, editing, or moving your copy around. Keep reading your tour aloud until you’ve got your words just right.

Writing a Great Audio Tour Experience

It requires expertise, experience and writing for the ear know-how to write a great audio tour script. But if you’re venturing into script writing these tips will help you get started. But they only scratch the surface. If you’re writing a tour script we recommend working with an experienced audio tour writer to help you rewrite and edit your work. This is how your hard work will shine through.

Boston Duck Tours Entertains Foreign Language Travellers

Boston Duck Tours Foreign Language Services

Boston Opens its Doors to the World

Boston Duck Tours voted by Boston Magazine as “Best of Boston” in the city tour category, and voted Boston.com’s “Best City Tour” continues its leadership role in tourism by adding several new foreign language tours for visiting travellers and locals alike.

As one of Boston’s must-do experiences, foreign language visitors will receive historical, educational and fun tour commentaries triggered by our GPS commentary systems at key locations throughout the city (on land and on the water) in several languages.

Direct Flights from China

Most recently, Boston Ducks appeared in The Wang Post, (Boston Welcomes Tourists from China with Direct Flight) as Boston prepares for inbound visitation from China. New direct flights from Beijing to Boston means Mandarin speaking travellers will experience sightseeing in their own language.

“Boston Duck Tours is a highly unique sightseeing operator that offers the very best of Boston delivered by people who sincerely care about delivering memorable tour experiences”, said Jonathan Stanley, President & CEO of AudioConexus Inc. “At Boston Ducks, the passenger experience comes first and it shines through on every ride.”

Tours are provided in Spanish, German, French, Italian, Mandarin, Japanese and Portuguese.

How to Connect Your Public Address System to a Commentary System

If you’ve ever stood over a Public Address System with connections and wires and didn’t know where to begin – this guide is for you.

This guide is designed to assist you in connecting our commentary systems to your PA Systems. With many organizations coming to us for assistance with PA System integration, we quickly realized there was a need for more information regarding how to identify and solve audio problems with PA Systems. This guide summarizes two methods of integration. While we do not sell PA Systems, we’re hoping this guide will assist you.

In this Public Address System guide we cover:

  • Sound Outputs
  • Connectors
  • Jacks
  • Components (Sources, Amplifiers, Mixers, Audio Duckers, Line Level Converters, etc.)
  • How to Connect your Systems

Working with Public Address Systems

Integration of AudioConexus GPS commentary systems with PA systems of various brands can often be a confusing ordeal. This guide is designed to give you a basic understanding of sound levels, connectors, equipment, and how they all work together.

“AudioConexus GPS commentary systems can be connected to your audio or PA system using one of two methods. The main difference between the two methods is how you would like your driver to change the language played over your PA system.”

Public Address System Integration - What You Need to Know?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Download our free eBook Public Address System Integration – What You Need to Know

Installing Multi-language GPS Systems into Historic Trolleys with Wooden Slat Seating

Improving Multi-language GPS Installations on Historic Trolleys

In the midst of another busy season at AudioConexus, the technical and installations team is always looking ahead and putting serious thought into how we improve our multi-language GPS systems and methods of installation. We put customer satisfaction first and we’re always looking for ways to do more than expected to overcome the next challenge that dares put itself in our way.

One of these challenges we’ve faced is the construction of bench slat seats on trolleys. When taking a sightseeing tour on a trolley through a historic and iconic city, wooden bench seating adds to the character of the trolley and of the tour. There is nothing quite like the texture and the beautiful shine of well-kept, polished wood. The wood itself seems to add legitimacy in and of itself to any classic tour vehicle, be it a tram, trolley or boat.

Wooden Slat Trolley Bench

The challenge in installing hubs and audio controllers into wooden slat seats is hiding wires so that passengers don’t see exposed wiring while touring. That’s why companies mount audio controllers on the sidewalls of trolleys and buses. The challenge of putting audio controllers in front of people is too much work. But we see the passenger experience differently. Putting audio controllers in front of people is an important part of making tours better.

Kingston Trolley Moves From GPS Triggered English to Multilingual Tours

We had the wonderful opportunity to work with Kingston Trolley Tours again this year. Last year, we installed single language GPS commentary systems on their trolleys. This year, we were tasked with removing these systems to install multi-language GPS systems to provide better services for foreign language travellers. In trolleys with wooden slat seating, the easiest approach to the installation of our hardware is on the sidewall of the vehicle. We could hide wires and give Kingston Trolley’s customers access to multilingual tour entertainment on the system.

Redefining The Wooden Bench Seat Installation

As we were talking about the upcoming trolley installation, I really wanted to take a different approach to how these installations get done. Then an idea came to me through a series of small steady steps. The seats themselves had a horizontal wooden slat on the very top. And this was the right height for people to interact with the audio controllers in front of them. Since the seats are made of wood, why couldn’t we customize the way audio controllers get installed? So I asked myself, if we change the design of the top wooden slat, could we accommodate wiring and audio controllers?

This line of thinking soon brought me to the people responsible for maintaining and refurbishing these wooden benches – Jeff Eggert and E.Coating Solutions in our hometown of Kingston, Ontario. I approached Jeff with my idea and we began working hand-in-hand to turn an idea into something tangible. Working within our budget, Jeff worked with our mutual client to procure some beautiful old wooden boards from a historic boat owned by Kingston Thousand Island Cruises. These boards were sanded and prepared into our first prototype.

Kingston Trolley Wooden Bench Work by AudioConexus

After a few visits and some modifications and new fittings, we believed that we had the end product that was perfect for this installation – seat-caps that would support the wiring of audio controllers and even custom wooden conduit to run the length of the trolley to hide the wiring.

Taking Small Steps Leads to Big Changes

When the new caps were fitted and in place, our team went to work. Over the next few days we worked to get all of the electronics neat and in place.

When the installation was finished, we took our wrap-up pictures and shared our installation success with our team. Kingston Trolley, who had originally expected to see audio controllers on the sides of walls embraced our ideas and were really happy with the end result.

Audio Controllers for Multi-language System on Custom Made Trolley Bench

The way we conduct our work is directly linked to our core values - one of which is “embrace small causes”. To become better, it’s often about taking smaller steps and re-examining how things get done. By making small changes to how we install multi-language GPS systems into wooden benches on trolleys we’ve made the passenger experience better. And that’s what it’s all about.

Growing Your Sightseeing Business With GPS Commentary

When we first started AudioConexus back in 2006, the little money we had ran out quickly. We experienced tough times, long days, and even longer sales cycles. People around us wanted to throw in the towel to save us from another round in the ring.

But we didn’t give up! We kept on fighting because we believe in providing better tours and toppling language barriers matters.

Thankfully, we’ve put those harder times behind us. But we still run our company with a startup mentality and maintain our entrepreneurial spirit.

Today, we have customers around the world, delivering tours in over 30 languages, for thousands of people every day. And our customers are growing too because they’re committed to servicing foreign language markets. Companies that make this commitment are putting more bums in seats and they’re making more money.

We know that building any business is hard work. And that’s why we’ve spent a lot of time creating online resources for people like you. From eBooks to best practices and case studies and more, there are lots of articles about commentary systems and how people are using them to sell more tickets.

To learn more about what you need to know about commentary systems, download our free eBook: Multilingual Commentary Systems: What You Need to Know Before You Buy.

What Our Customers Are Saying

We believe any company can reproduce successful results. And you don’t have to be in a big city to make a big impact. One of our customers, located in a smaller city of 120,000, is growing their business by providing sightseeing tours in six languages.

“With AudioConexus, we’ve proven we can serve the needs of foreign language visitors on our boats. We’ve grown our business with more walk-up sales and new repeat business from international tour operators.”

And a recent sightseeing bus customer in Skagway, Alaska, (launched in 2013) is realizing the benefits of providing foreign languages to their passengers. Our customer writes:

“A young Chinese guest who spoke English told us that his elderly mother – who spoke only Mandarin – had tears in her eyes at the end of our tour because ‘it was the very first time on our family’s cruise to Alaska that she has been able to understand what was being said’. The AudioConexus system is an answer to the eternal question of “what does the customer want?”

We’ve heard about positive change from many of our customers with story after story about how providing multilingual tours in creating new business and partnerships. By reaching out to tour and receptive operators and by marketing to foreign language visitors our customers are achieving results. Satisfaction ratings are going up and so is business growth. See how one tour operator partnered with a local museum to create a cultural experience about historical points of interest on their route. Click here for the Blue Boat Case Study.

To help you achieve new growth, we’d love the opportunity to share some of our success stories with you. Call us at (613) 507-1300 or fill in our contact form and we’ll get back to you right away.

(We’d also like to extend our gratitude to our existing clients. You make our work fun and fulfilling!)

Kingston, Ontario: Seriously Smart

The Intelligent Community Forum has announced its 2014 Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year – and Kingston has made the shortlist! Alongside cities like Hsinchu City and New Taipei City in Taiwan, Columbus and Arlington County in the USA, and Winnipeg and Toronto, Kingston’s leveraging of its educational institutions to build an innovation economy focused on environmental sustainability.

Who is the Intelligent Community Forum?

The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) is a foundation based in New York City. It studies and promotes the best practices of the world’s Intelligent Communities as they adapt to the demands and seize the opportunities presented by broadband and information and communications technology (ICT). The Intelligent Community Forum has become an international movement that attracts the attention of global leaders, thinkers, and media observers.

What is the significance of Top7 award?

Kingston was chosen as one of the Top7 communities on January 23, 2014 at an event held in Taichung City. The Top7 are the final communities selected from close to 400 submissions in the annual awards program of the ICF. Each community provided a detailed explanation of programs and Initiatives that address the five intelligent community indicators, broadband access, a knowledge based workforce, innovation, digital inclusion and marketing and advocacy plus address this year’s theme, culture.

How is AudioConexus involved?

AudioConexus was selected as a participating company to host a visit from ICF for its contribution to innovation and growth in the Kingston community. We welcomed a visit from Louis Zacharilla, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). During our time with Mr. Zacharilla, we talked about advanced technology, investments in broadband, talent development, innovation, and how to create lasting prosperity for our community. It was a great experience. Click here to see: Jennifer Lester Mulridge, CKWS Newswatch, Kingston share our story.

 

3 Ways to Find the Right GPS Commentary System

I get really excited about technology“, admits AudioConexus CEO Jonathan Stanley. “But it’s the experience people remember. Technology is an important consideration”, he says. But choosing the right company with the knowledge and expertise to deliver products and creative services with flawless execution is equally important. “Creating compelling content for GPS commentary systems requires outside guidance. That’s where we come in“, he says.

Ultimately, the value of choosing a company that offers reliable commentary systems and engaging content is more tickets sold. Before choosing a company to provide GPS commentary you should be asking these three questions:

1. Does the company understand how to create compelling content?

Some companies write and produce audio tours for their GPS systems. But what do these tours sound like? Are they fun, entertaining and memorable? If you’re listening to audio samples envision yourself as a passenger. Does the audio make you feel better? Or is it limited to dry factual information found in every guidebook?

  • Do you feel entertained?
  • Did you learn something new?
  • Is the audio offer you an immersive experience?

2. Does the company understand how to create a tour architecture?

Think of making a grilled cheese sandwich without the cheese. You’re left with two pieces of toast that don’t stick. The cheese is the middle part of the sandwich that holds everything together. That’s what tour architecture does. It’s the expertise between the commentary system and the content. It’s how, when, where and why audio commentary is delivered at specific spots on your routes. Its’ what makes a seamless passenger experience – entertaining.

  • Does the company have lots of in-field experience in planning and route logistics?
  • What is their approach to providing entertainment?
  • How much research is involved and where?

3. What is the company’s record of reliability?

The most valuable consideration for your short and long-term success is reliability. Some companies contact us, albeit painfully, to tell us they’ve purchased commentary systems that don’t work reliably. To avoid this pitfall yourself, ask to speak with a company’s customers. Dig into old and recent installations and ask lots of questions.

  • Ask to talk to old customers – not just recent ones.
  • Find out how often commentary systems are serviced and why?
  • Learn more about a company’s warranty and service policies.

Audio Guide Bit-rates – Solving Sound Problems

Some of our audio guide clients have been having issues with loading tour commentaries using our software due to the way audio files have been encoded. They’ve been experiencing strange quirks with audio playback. Of course, these issues end up in the AudioConexus Help Desk and the problem is very easy to solve. This is a problem with the “bit-rate” that someone selected for the audio file.

What are Bit-Rates?

Bit-rates are somewhat mysterious things. The best way to think of a Bit-rate is “The amount of data transferred as audio in kb/s”. Bit-rates are normally expressed in kilo-bits per second, or 1000 bits of data per second.

With this definition, the higher the Bit-rate the better! Right? Well, that’s not always the case. In an MP3 format, different bit-rates are good for different things. Here is a break-down according to Wikipedia:

“32 kbit/s – generally acceptable only for speech

96 kbit/s – generally used for speech or low-quality streaming

128 or 160 kbit/s – mid-range bit-rate quality 192 kbit/s – a commonly used high-quality bit-rate

320 kbit/s – highest level supported by MP3 standard”

I’ve seen audio files claiming bit-rates in the 800s, however files claiming this are usually just transmitting a lot of extra “dead air” and not adding to the fidelity of a recording.

How Does Bit-rate Impact Sound Quality?

Typically, I find that you’ll notice a difference in sound quality between 32 and 96 kilobits per second, while 96kb to 128kb is less noticeable. The noticeable difference between 192kb/s and 320kb/s is a hotly debated subject. Some people claim to hear the difference in sound quality while others say there is none. Now that we know a little about Bit-rates themselves, why do some audio files sound great on your computer, but flop, pop, hiss and click on your audio guide device?

This issue is not a problem with the audio guide, but with the Bit-rate being used on the guide. All audio devices come with limitations in terms of what they can process. Most audio devices on the market are programmed and designed to be able to play either 128kb/s or 192kb/s. AudioConexus audio guides can process up to 192kb/s. When an audio file is programmed for a Bit-rate over that limit, a lot of strange things can occur as the device tries to keep up with the amount of information that it is being given.

  • Popping
  • Clicking
  • Decreasing or Increasing audio speed
  • ‘hissing’ sounds
  • Muddy or distorted audio
  • Volume issues
  • Error messages

Encoding Audio Files for Audio Guides

These issues can be resolved by re-working the Audio File to be 192kb/s or less. Most recording software will give this option when “exporting”, “finalizing” or saving the file to an mp3 format. In the long run, checking your sound file format and Bit-rate can save you a lot of hassle and time. Your customers will enjoy your tour with crystal-clear sound reproduction every time.