Cruise One of the Most Multicultural Cities in the World Aboard the Oriole Steamship

Mariposa Cruises is a Canadian owned and operated company based in Toronto, Ontario. They began in 1987 after acquiring the Mariposa Belle steamship which, at that time had the largest passenger capacity in the city. Today, they are known as one of the longest standing tour operators on the waterfront and operate 6 different boats – two of which are the largest in Toronto’s Harbour.

They are one of Canada’s largest hospitality cruise operators – in addition to sightseeing harbour tours, they offer everything from private charters – for conferences, conventions, socials, weddings, corporate; special events – such as for Pride or partnerships with the city or province; public dinning – dinners, lunch, weekend brunch and cocktail cruises, and much more!

It’s About the Guest Experience 

Guests’ experience the scenic Toronto skyline and lagoons aboard beautiful boats. These boats include a replica of the Great Lakes steamship as well as luxurious yachts. Mariposa Cruises pride themselves in being ‘the most dynamic experience on the water.’

Mariposa Cruises boasts it’s their dynamic guest experience which sets them apart in the competitive Toronto market. They take great pride in having a team focused on guest experience and in their fleet, capable of hosting from 20 to 575 guests, which offers amenities onboard that allow for free roaming on their outer decks as well as a range of indoor seating, dining, restrooms, and even a dancefloor!

“Our people make the difference and our sightseeing amenities onboard are unlike other harbour tour offerings. We are coach/group business friendly because of our capacity. People do like that they can move about the boat – because views change, giving our guests the opportunity to take beautiful photos at the vantage points they prefer,” explains Cindi Vanden Heuvel, the Vice President of Mariposa Cruises

Originally Mariposa operated as a collection of boats used primarily as event venues. Mariposa Cruises saw the opportunity to become more involved in the community and Toronto’s event scene and launched a strategy to offer superior tourism and sightseeing experiences.

“What we’re very passionate about here is staying current, on trend, identifying what is driving the industry. Events and tourism have different touch points, to a certain degree, with crossover of course. But each requires a dedicated focus, on guest experience and innovation. We’re constantly listening to our guest’s feedback so we’re always on top of trends and delivering on what our customers want from our services.”

In early 2016, Mariposa collaborated closely with AudioConexus about their vision for the future. As a result, plans were made to install their own TriggerPoint GPS Commentary System with wireless receivers to support premium sightseeing content for their Oriole steamship.

“Part of the challenge of creating this AudioConexus narrative was – because Toronto and the waterfront is changing everyday – providing our guests an engaging, unique Toronto experience without becoming outdated. [AudioConexus] did a really good job of providing a robust, interesting narrative that had all of these thematic threads of stories tied together, giving our listeners a great snapshot of life in Toronto. From historical to current day storytelling, the content does not become outdated in a matter of minutes. Its been really well received.”

Sightseeing commentary is currently offered in four languages simultaneously: English, French Canadian, Spanish, and Mandarin. Because of demand from the group market, Cindi and her team are currently working towards adding German and Japanese to their list of languages to expand their foreign language guest services.

Operating a Multilingual Business in a Multicultural City 

Toronto, Ontario is known to be one of the most multicultural cities in the world with over 140 languages and dialects spoken there. Toronto is also the leading tourist destination in Canada with over 40 million visitors seen in 2015.

Seeing the continued growth and need for foreign language experiences, Cindi and her team continue to make foreign language commentary a priority. In addition to their new commentary, Mariposa invested in training staff who are available on board to answer any questions about the commentary that their guests may have.

 “The AudioConexus product we brought last year was identified as an opportunity for us to be alone in that offering. We took a leadership position by having an exclusive offer in the Toronto market, which in the tour operator market can be a slow climb. We’re already seeing a great response and enthusiasm from the market. We didn’t anticipate that there would be the initial response there was – we’ve already seen a significant increase in ridership! New tour operators that had not previously cruised with us are now identifying that their guests would be interested in doing this.”

Mariposa Cruises has reported lots of growth this past year after their investment was made in new markets. They are also receiving positive feedback on their new commentary, which was co-developed by Mariposa Cruises and our Creative Services team.

“It was wonderful to witness that a lot of the investments that we’ve put in are helping us achieve our goals – which is a more robust, guest focused experience. We see opportunity in this market place to welcome more visitors from the group market. We certainly have the capacity in offering the amenities on board that make our tour experiences far more enjoyable.”

Mariposa Cruises has been awarded the Best Recreational Cruise by Consumer Choice Awards, Ontario’s Best Touring Experience from Attractions Ontario in 2016, and Toronto’s Choice Awards 2017 from Event Source. In addition, they are constantly being voted as one of the top attractions in Toronto by Trip Advisor.

Mariposa Cruises is also celebrating 30 years of business this year. From all of us at AudioConexus, we want to wish Mariposa Cruises a happy 30th anniversary! We wish you many more years of health, happiness, growth and success! Thanks for being such a great team!

Convention Visitor Bureaus and Destination Marketing Organizations – What they know!

Convention Visitor Bureaus (CVB) and Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) work non-stop promoting your town, city, state, and/or region. By learning about and partnering with the CVBs and DMOs in your area, you will be taking a huge step towards being proactive instead of reactive to the tourism trends in your area.

To retain and increase tourism to your area, these organizations are tracking the analytics that help you make wise business decisions. Most CVBs offer a history of the demographics that have been visiting your area. They will be the ones to notice trends in your tourist’s markets and can provide insight into the forecasted growth. Most CVBs also maintain calendars and lists of events which may affect your daily operations.

Attracting YOUR Market

Finding the organizations that cover your area is usually as simple as entering CVB and your cities name into a search engine. Perhaps your city or town does not have an organization such as this. In this instance, the local Chamber of Commerce may have demographics and schedules for local events, but most of your tourism information can come from your state, province or regional CVB. By speaking with the organizations directly you are creating a relationship that can prove to be very symbiotic. Your company’s offerings likely increase the attraction of visitors to your area. It is the organizations goal to show your areas offerings to the world. With a good relationship, the CVB can both use your company to expand the areas attractiveness, and advise you on current market focuses of their organizations so that your business is the most prepared for tourism growth.

Remember, most cities with tourism have these organizations. It would be wise to pick several cities which share similarities to your own, and research their CVB websites.  The statistics on display vary widely from website to website, and you may see details or trends that you can inquire with your own CVB.

The primary focus of all Convention Visitors Bureaus and Destination Marketing Organizations is to increase the number of tourists and business travelers to your region. Marketing is what they do, on behalf of your company, and all other tourism and hospitality businesses.  By being involved with local and regional CVBs you can position your company to take advantage of tourist growth and be the first to know who is coming to town.

The AudioConexus Installation Process of Kearney Nebraska

AudioConexus prides themselves in providing the highest quality services. Our installation process takes a lot of careful planning and is a conjoined process between our client and our AudioConexus Technical Team.

Recently we traveled to Kearney Nebraska to install an Audio Guide solution for the Great Platte River Road Archway monument.  Their system had become outdated and they wanted to upgrade their guest experience. After evaluating the Archway monument, we decided that our Audio Guide 2 product was the best solution to fit their needs. Using both automated Infrared Triggers and optional RFID commentary, the implementation of this system allows our client’s guests to control and customize their experience with just their audio guide. Guests are able to explore the monument at their leisure, which allows them to fully embrace the sights, sounds, and information of each exhibit.

We Help Tell YOUR Story

The format is storytelling, guiding the guests on a journey through time, along the Great Platte River Road, allowing them to immerse themselves in the feeling and situations that each of the travelers experienced during their long and hard journey as they followed the American dream.  From a technical installation standpoint, the installation was seamless. At AudioConexus we pride ourselves on planning and preparation prior to an installation. We have several key collaborative touch points with our clients to ensure a seamless installation.

Our communication with our client begins with us collecting information with regards to their current technology, their venue, and any details that will assist our team with installation. We send this to the client asking key questions about their  venue and any related technical equipment. This information is then carefully processed by our technical department and the Installation Plan begins.  During this process, we have technical conference calls with our client. This is to ensure that everyone’s questions are being addressed and both sides are completely informed on the installation process. Once the Installation Plan is complete, it is sent to our client for approval. If there is any need for change or modification our technical department works closely with the client to accommodate or resolve any potential issues.

A Client Involved Process

This process allows both our technical team and our client to be fully involved in the process from beginning to end. This results in no surprises for either party.  The preparation for the City of Kearney was completed before onsite installation and was well organized and planned. Communication with our client was open and collaborative which allowed for immediate implementation while on site. Interaction back and forth with the client, along with photos and video walkthroughs allowed installation and execution onsite to be done in less than 48 hours.

It was a pleasure to work with the City of Kearney on such an exciting project. With open communication and information sharing, we were able to launch the Archway project successfully while meeting all of our client’s expectations.

*Photo is our very own Dave Mains from Technical (left) and Eric Hellriegel (right) from Kearney Archway Project!

Martinrea Assembles A Greater Plant Tour Experience With Their New Tour Guide System

Martinrea International Inc. is a global automotive parts supplier founded in early 2001 from its initial small base in Canada. They have grown quickly to become an international Tier One supplier. As of today, they have 45 assembly plants worldwide in Asia, Europe, and North and South America. Martinrea is currently the 2nd largest metal former and top 3 supplier of fluid management systems in North America.

The Royal Treatment 

Martinrea prides themselves in their hard work on the assembly floor and the top-quality products that come from it. This plant is known for assembling automotive suspension modules or to be more specific General Motors vehicles. Martinrea Ajax is one of the plants that offers exclusive factory tours to partnering companies, clients, and in some cases – curious customers.

Martinrea Ajax is one of the company`s model plants and they are passionate about showing their industry-related visitors and customers all the reasons why this is the case. They aim to be the best, preferred, and most valued automotive part supplier in the world.

Ilia Chliapnikov Director of Operational Excellence at Martinrea Ajax, boasts their “visual management focus, standardization, and their built-in quality systems” help achieve this mission.

However, when their customers visit their plant, they want to do more than just show them their high-quality product. “When customers come to our plant, we want to make that customer feel like they are a king,” explains Chliapnikov.

Recently, several members of AudioConexus visited Martinrea Ajax and took a plant tour with their management team. The level of organization and efficiency with which tasks were done was very impressive. It was easy to see the pride that was reflected in their operations.

Top Quality Products, Top Quality Tours 

In the summer of 2016, Martinrea Ajax contacted AudioConexus to purchase the HearMe Tour Guide System to raise the quality and experience of their tours on the manufacturing floor.

“We have a saying at Martinrea ‘Floor is Glore’. Money is not made in the office; money is made on the floor. Our pride is on our manufacturing floor,” explains Chliapnikov.

A manufacturing floor can be a very loud environment, thus making it difficult to communicate to your visitors – especially in big groups. The HearMe tour guide system was created for loud, noisy environments thus, making it the perfect fit.

“When I’m doing the plant tour where I take the time to explain to visitors all the key improvements in all the key areas of the plant, it takes over an hour. When you’re doing a larger tour when you want people to hear you, you need to speak quite loud for an extended period of time. It gets quite tough on your throat. With this tour system, it’s much easier.”

Visitors have complimented the HearMe tour guide system that Martinrea incorporates into their tours. We are proud that other divisions of Martinrea and even industry-related visitors have purchased HearMe systems of their own.

“Visitors have recognized that we have a level of preparation and effort that goes into our tours. Everything has worked properly, but the fact that we bought the system… has resulted in a lot of compliments from our customers,” says Chliapnikov.

With Martinrea’s commitment to quality and excellence, we are proud to have them as part of the AudioConexus Family!

The Importance of Brokerage and Duties

Brokerage Fees Add on to Shipping Costs

When receiving an order, you may be asked to pay taxes and brokerage fees by the courier (UPS/Fed-Ex) before the items are released. You have already bought the product, you’ve paid the shipping and now there are more charges? Here is the reason paying directly to the shipper saves you money.

When items are purchased taxes must be paid. Taxes (Duties) are different in every state, city, province, parish, county, etc… Brokerage fees are the fees that the courier charges to transport the product between countries, serving as the broker. When the courier charges you, the purchaser directly, it insures all proper taxes and fees are paid, and there has been no mark-up or surcharge from the supplier (Causing the purchase price to remain low)

Customers are surprised when the UPS driver asks them to pay. This can often result in delays if the receiver does not have the ability to pay straight away. While AudioConexus can’t estimate the taxes, duty and brokerage for every country, we do want our customers to know that they exist and it is the responsibility of the “importer” to pay.

What Are These and Why Do I Need To Pay Them?

A brokerage fee compensates a broker (UPS) for executing a transaction, typically at the percentage of the transaction value. This fee is collected on delivery.

The duties are the import costs determined by value of the goods, the Harmonized Code and the Country of Origin. The tax is what is added to any item purchased in your country/state/province. Your broker pays both of these to the proper authority on your behalf, thus earning their brokerage fee.

These fees rely on the declared value of the goods (the value is set by the shipper). If the value is below a certain amount, the fee can be overlooked. This cut off is dependent on the import country (i.e. >$20 for Canada and >$800 for the US).

As a shipper, AudioConexus has a fiduciary responsibility to represent the true selling price on all documents for international shipments. While we can empathize with our clients over unexpected fees on delivery, we also understand the importance of taxes and how they support every country’s infrastructure and public service employees.

If you have any questions about AudioConexus’ shipping process, brokerage, duties, your Sales Representative will be happy to answer them!





Out Island Charters Cruises With GPS Bus Tours in Multiple Languages

Out Island Charters is a family owned and operated tour company based in the beautiful island of St. Maarten. Since 1987, they have offered island and sea tours from snorkelling to sightseeing tours aboard powerboats, catamarans, and buses. Out Island Charters caters to some of the biggest international cruise lines such as Costa, Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises to name a few, and they see multitudes of foreign language visitors everyday.

Double the Nation, Double the Adventure 

St. Maarten, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, is a major tourist destination and attracts visitors from every corner of the world. St. Maarten is the smallest land mass in the world to belong to two different nations – the Netherlands and France. The French side covers two thirds of the island and is governed by France. However, the Dutch side, while still a part of the Netherlands, has been independent since October 10, 2010.

It is home to beaches, lagoons, a mountain range, luxury hotels, five star hotels, and much more. Out Island Charters began as a company that wanted to showcase all of the amazing locales St. Maarten has to offer.

Looking to better serve island guests, Out Island Charters contacted AudioConexus to help them create a unique island tour to accommodate all of their multi-language cruisers.

“There’s a big turn right now for more foreign speaking people to be cruising through the Caribbean. We’re really trying to cater to that market and seemed like a great way to do it,” explains Eddie Parish, responsible for Operations.

AudioConexus installed TriggerPOINT GPS Commentary Systems on their busses and worked hand-in-hand with the team at Out Islands Charters to create engaging island entertainment, new professional audio commentary that is automatically played on bus routes throughout the island. As the first sightseeing business on St. Maarten to offer multi-language tours, Out Island Tours gained a competitive edge against the multitude of tourism operators present in St. Maarten.

 “Originally we were the only company on St. Maarten with this kind of multi-language experience. Since then only one other company has done it but its being done on a much smaller scale. We’re still the only people doing this on a large scale which really sets us apart and is a really good selling point with the cruise lines.”

On their Explorer Tour, guests board buses and depart from the cruise terminal for a one hour tour of St. Maarten. The bus stops in Marigot, the capital of French St. Maarten, where tourists have an hour to shop in the numerous boutiques, bakeries, and cafes.

Afterwards, visitors board Out Island Charters’ double decker catamaran for a relaxing cruise around the island and then board a bus back to their ship while listening to a tour about the Dutch side of St. Maarten.

This tour is currently offered in six languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Eddie and his team hope to add Mandarin soon. They see a quickly growing Asian market in the cruise industry.

Cruising on Bus Tours the Multilingual Way

95% of Out Island Charters’ clientele is cruise ships. St. Maarten has a large cruise terminal called Port St. Maarten, which is a very common stop on many major cruise lines. The Port can accommodate up to 6 cruise ships at a time, meaning St. Maarten can see up to 15,000 visitors a day in its peak season!

“Just our first year in doing it with MSC and Costa, it went from a tour that would cancel sometimes due to low participation to selling out almost every call that they were here. […] There’s a lot of foreign speaking guides just because St. Maarten is such an international island […] and there’s a lot of people like this here. But, its tough when you have a bus full of 4 different languages on it. We are one of only two companies that has a GPS system that allows us to simultaneously be doing all these languages.”

Eddie recalls some of the feedback he’s received from returning visitors, “We had these people that had been on the tour 12 or 13 times and they came back again and heard our new audio tour and they loved it – it had been the best one they’d ever been on! It’s great when our customers know the product and they love that we’ve improved.”

Due to the success of their multi-language sightseeing tours, Out Island Charters has recently just launched a new tour called St. Maarten Hidden Treasures. This tour encompasses a power boat ride to Grand Case – a little town on the French side known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Grand Case boasts of over 30 restaurants with high end French dinning and casual dinners of local style BBQ.

After spending a couple of hours in Grand Case, visitors board a bus back to their cruise ship listening to multilingual tours created by AudioConexus.

We’re so excited about all of the positive feedback for the new tours and the new tour expansion! Thank you Out Island Charters!

Novant Health Takes an Artistic Approach to Health with Their New Audio Tour

Novant Health is a non-for-profit organization with 530 locations in five of the United States – North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Georgia. They are a dynamic system of 15 medical centers whose services range from outpatient surgery centers to rehabilitation programs to community outreach programs.

Novant Health was born when Carolina Medicorp of Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Presbyterian Health Services of Charlotte merged on July 1, 1997. Since then, the organization has achieved positive growth and continues to establish itself in more communities throughout the United States.

Art – Another Form of Medicine 

Novant Health’s mission and vision are:

“To improve the health of the communities one person at a time and to deliver the most remarkable patient experience every time.

One way Novant Health satisfies these expectations is through their holistic healing approach of using art to nurture patients and visitors alike. All of their facilities have a donated art collection, with artwork ranging from blown glass to scenic oil paintings, to artwork surrounding topics such as breast cancer. Their art collection is displayed throughout their facility specifically for the enjoyment of their visitors and patients.

“When their loved one might be in surgery, we’ll offer it to them to get their mind off of what’s going on. […] Its therapeutic – art and healing – to be able to enjoy the art throughout the facility. Its therapeutic for our patients and our visitors – It’s holistic healing,” explains Kathi Robinson, Senior Director of Professional & Support Services at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center.

In 2015, the Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center approached AudioConexus to assist them in putting together a self-guided audio visual art tour. Novant Health purchased audio guides and worked together with AudioConexus’ Creative Team to create and produce commentary for the artwork.

People have had a very positive response; they really enjoy it. It gets people out and gets them walking and helps destress the situation.” Part of one commentary mentions breast cancer. After taking a tour with her mother, a little girl said, “I’m only going into Kindergarten so this might be a little X-rated for me. They said the word breasts,” Robinson recalls, chuckling as she remembered the story.

Their tour is currently offered in English and is available for the hearing impaired.

Spreading the Health

Currently, the Novant Health Center in Huntersville, North Carolina is the only facility to offer this type of audio visual tour with their art collection.

 “For the future, we’re definitely looking at how we can grow and expand on this, as well as expanding to other facilities as we are a 15 hospital system. We’ve set the template for other Novant Health facilities. Hopefully Novant Health will eventually be known for it’s art and healing tour.”

In addition to the art gallery, Novant Health Huntersville has also begun an art program where they offer small art kits for their patients such as adult coloring books, canvas for painting etc. The art kits are offered to both their in- and out-patients to help with them with idle time, help them to wait with a purpose, or just to express.

“It really makes a difference. Not everyone has an opportunity to go to a real art gallery. It talks about our artists, our art donors, the inspiration – it’s pretty special.”

We’re very proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to such an incredible healing project. We think it’s pretty special too.

New Multi-language Tours With Lost Ships of the 1000 Islands

Exploring the Heart of the 1000 Islands With Multi-language Tours

Gananoque Boat Line, based in Gananoque, Ontario has the largest fleet and oldest cruise company of the 1000 Islands. In 1951, three Gananoque men, Waldin Beckstead, Grant Lucy and Art Bringlow, began the Gananoque Boat Line after realizing the growing demand for tours of the beautiful 1000 Islands. Now, nearly 65 years later, Gananoque Boats operates five triple-decker, all-aluminum vessels offering open and enclosed decks, with coffee shops and refreshments on board.

“The Gananoque fleet was designed by the original owners and continues to be the most copied design of tour boat to this day. What I want our customers to go home with is the experience of a unique biosphere that is unlike any other in the world,” explains Neil McCarney, the Operations Manager of Gananoque Boat Line.

The 1000 Islands – A Beautiful Place On Earth

The 1000 Islands have been attracting visitors for over 150 years due to it’s beauty and countless attractions, such as, lighthouses, castles, maritime museums, fishing, plus much more. Visitors of all ages and ethnicities are drawn to this paradise, eager to hear the stories surrounding its rich history of pirates and prohibition bootleggers. With five vessels, Gananoque Boat Line is able to cater to a variety of different tour experiences along the St. Lawrence River. The sightseeing company takes visitors through the breathtaking 1000 Islands to see sights such as the historic Boldt Castle, the Statue of St. Lawrence, the 1000 Islands International Bridge and Zavicon Islands containing the smallest international bridge in the world!

“We want to provide as many people from around the world the opportunity to experience the most beautiful place on earth, ‘The 1000 Islands,’ while still sustaining the natural beauty and protecting the environment. The water has never been cleaner, the fish population never higher and we are making this area sustainable for centuries to come,” says McCarney.

Sharing the Experience

Experiencing the Saint Lawrence River, the wildlife and all of the splendour that is the 1000 Islands is done best by boat. Gananoque Boat Lines recognized the need to share the 1000 Islands experience with all of their visitors from around the world, in their own native languages. To accommodate this need, McCarney and his team recruited AudioConexus to research, write and produce several multi-language tours and install the TriggerPOINT Wireless GPS Commentary System on several boats in their fleet. By installing this system, in conjunction with its wireless receivers, passengers are able to roam the decks of the boats with no seating restrictions. Passengers listen to professionally written and produced multi-language tours in their own language using earbuds.

The capabilities of this versatile system allows multiple tours to be selected. AudioConexus’ Creative team most recently has created brand new commentary for their new Lost Ships of the 1000 Islands tour in both English and French.

“AudioConexus has helped us with this by providing new, vibrant and exciting commentary. Our customers now have the ability to enjoy the cruise narration in their own language which allows us to continue to be the #1 choice for 1000 Islands Cruises.”

McCarney and his team hope to continue expanding on their cruises to provide a greater variety of tours for their dynamic customer base. In addition to their new Lost Ships of the 1000 Islands tour, they have begun offering eco-cruises that allow customers to explore the flora and fauna on one of the islands. They also hope to soon launch a new project in conjunction with Parks Canada to allow those without a boat access to the islands.

“Last year we celebrated our 11 millionth customer who have taken memories of the Islands home with them. When a customer disembarks our boats I want that customer to have experienced the uniqueness and beauty of the 1000 Islands. I want them to feel the way my Great Grandfather felt when he first arrived in Gananoque in 1886 and made this place our home for 5 generations of McCarneys.”

Gananoque Boat Line has been a consistent recipient of Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence for providing high quality tour experiences. We at AudioConexus are proud to have them as part of our AudioConexus family and are excited to be involved in their visionary development of one of the best activities in Ontario.

How to Make Factory Tours Better

Giving live tours can be challenging enough. Giving live factory tours increases this challenge. Factory tour guides are guiding people of all ages from all backgrounds through a dynamic work environment. Guides must be alert, informative, responsive and ensure the work flow of normal operations is not disrupted. Factory environments can have temperature extremes, odd, loud sounds, sights and smells, creating many distractions for visitors. This makes it challenging for tour guides to deliver great experiences consistently.

Lets outline a few best practices to help keep your visitors on track, entertained and safe.

Best Practices for Live Factory Tours

You should have a tour plan, which includes the path/layout of your tour, as well as a script. The path should minimize disruptions and maintain a safe viewing distance from employees and factory equipment. This helps the tour guide and employees distinguish visitors on a busy factory floor. Gathering points should be planned for tour stops. Furthermore, these gathering points should not impede work traffic and allow good visibility.  The script does not need to be formal, but each area of interest should have details that your visitors would be interested in hearing about. The most successful factory tours have guides that know how to deliver great scripted stories.

At the beginning of the tour, introduce yourself and meet your guests. For instance, you may want to ask where they are from, why they wanted to see the factory tour, if they use your product/s? etc.  Cover the safety items that should be addressed, (Walk path, emergency procedures, physical challenges on tour, restroom locations etc.). Provide visitors with pre-scripted company information (your brand experience) and tell them what they are about to see. Share the impressive details, such as number of units manufactured, state of the art machinery, specialized processes, etc.

When leading the tour be aware of visitors lagging behind or being distracted by this foreign environment. Make sure everyone has arrived at the gathering point before speaking about the point of interest. When people have questions, always repeat the question aloud so that all visitors can hear what is being answered.  Keep “fresh” eyes. Things that may seem typical to you, may be fascinating to some of your visitors. Use their questions and observations to incorporate points into your script, eliminating identical questions from being asked on multiple tours.

At the end of the tour, ask them if they enjoyed it. Find out their favourite parts. See if there are things that they were disappointed with. This too can help you edit a script or path to improve visitor satisfaction.

Lastly, to improve safety and control of your tour, as well as reduce tour guide fatigue, consider the implementation of a tour guide system. This will provide guests with lightweight headphones and wireless receivers to clearly hear tour guides on the factory floor.  The tour guide does not need to compete with background noise and strain their voice. In addition, visitors will be less distracted and capable of hearing every word spoken.

Have experience/tips of your own giving factory tours? Funny stories to share? We’d love to hear from you at [email protected].

Agawa Canyon Tour Train Adds Korean to Northern Ontario Experience

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train is one of the most popular tour trains in North America, seeing tens of thousands of visitors each year. Located in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the tour train takes you on a one-day trip into the Northern Ontario wilderness, immersing you in the forests of the Canadian Shield as it moves along the floor of the Agawa Canyon. The newly updated train coaches and sightseeing commentary allows for a unique and engaging experience as you learn about the history of the railroad and the breathtaking locations that inspired some of Canada’s most prolific artists.

Upgrading Sights With Sounds – A Whole New Passenger Experience 

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train is operated by Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, which is the Destination Marketing Organization for the region. Due to outdated tour and coach equipment, the Agawa Canyon Tour Train began to see a steady decline in ridership. Management at Tourism Sault Ste. Marie knew they needed to make a significant investment in the tour train in order to keep up with new foreign language market demands and an ever changing tourism industry.

“In 2011, we did a $10 million capital upgrade on the train and got newly updated coach equipment. We also realized that we needed to make the trip more entertaining, interactive, and educational. That’s when we decided to engage the services of AudioConexus,” explains Ian McMillan, the Executive Director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie.

Tourism Sault Ste. Marie contracted AudioConexus to install GPS commentary systems and develop an entertaining script in five languages to play throughout the train ride. “It enhanced the experience for everyone on board. Passengers could see on the monitors what the railroad looked like when it was being built in the 1800s. Through the commentary, sound effects, and tour  script that AudioConexus developed, we were able to tell the stories of how the railroad was built in an entertaining fashion and expand on all the things of interest along the way.”

As a result of the new technology, the staff at Agawa Canyon Tour Train have created a variety of fun passenger experiences. This innovative approach has led to the most recent tour which pertains to the famous Canadian painters, the Group of Seven. “They (the Group of Seven) used to do a lot of their iconic painting in a boxcar along the train line,” says McMillan. “So we’ve developed group tours that allows passengers to immerse themselves in a Group of Seven experience. A dedicated coach with an artist from a local gallery guide passengers as they listen to GPS triggered commentary about historic painting locations. Each person in the group is given an easel, a canvas, and a painting kit. A Group of Seven painting is placed on a monitor and the artist walks the group through their own version of the painting.”  With a season of success, the tour is continuing into its second season. According to McMillan, the tour continues to grow ridership and many tour operators are really enjoying the experience.

All Aboard: Multilingualism Embraced in Northern Ontario

Tourism Sault Ste. Marie works with numerous tour operators and companies to promote and sell tickets for their unique train excursions. These tour operators and companies have multilingual visitors that travel from all over the world, passing through Sault Ste. Marie to experience its breathtaking vistas. The Agawa Tour Train sees an abundance of Japanese and Chinese visitors, especially in the fall months. Most recently, the train has seen an increase in the Korean market, which further expanded Tourism Sault Ste. Marie’s international visitor market.

“In the last few years we started to develop a market in Korea. A few tour companies had started to sell direct flights from Seoul, South Korea to Chicago where they would take coach up to Sault Ste. Marie. This continued to grow significantly over the last 3 years. It grew to a point where I had a conversation with those tour operators and told them that if the Korean market continued to grow, I would invest with AudioConexus and add Korean to the 2016 season. With continued growth, we’ve taken the next steps. Our new Korean tour commentary provides a higher level of service for the emerging market here in Sault Ste. Marie,” explained McMillan. 

Since installing new coach equipment and working with AudioConexus to add GPS triggered commentary in English and foreign languages, the Agawa Tour Train has seen ridership begin to grow after almost a decade of decline!

Macmillan says “Last year was the best year we’ve had on the train in 10 years and AudioConexus contributed to that.” McMillan and his team at Tourism Sault Ste. Marie are always mindful that as foreign language markets grow, they can easily add new one. At AudioConexus, we’re very happy to hear about the train tour’s growing success and look forward to a prosperous future with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie’s creative team. 

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train offers tours in six languages; English, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, and now, Korean. For more information and excursions please visit