Putting the Service in Customer Service

Sometimes customer service is not only for our customers.

While waiting in line, after normal working hours our Inside Sales Representative, had a phone call forwarded to her cell phone.  When receiving a sales call, it is important to clearly understand the potential customers actual need. This call was a little different. An elderly woman was wanting to set-up a tour for her ladies’ club at the Harley-Davidson Factory, in Kansas City Mo. Our representative explained that AudioConexus is a provider of tour and tour guide systems. It became clear that the caller was a bit confused, when she then asked if the tour was on motorcycles or a walking tour.  The lady was relieved to learn that factory tours were, indeed walking tours, and was now convinced that this is exactly what she and her group would want to do. Or representative stepped out of line, and explained how most factory tours work, while looking up the reservation number for Harley Davidson tours. She provided the lady with the Harley-Davidson Factory Tour contact number, and then addressed her concerns about calling an “877” area code.

In today’s absence of telephone books, and the proliferation of devices that can search anything, it is easy to see how technology can replace the need for human interactions. Technology can also add a layer of confusion to generations that grew up without knowing the word “google” as a verb. While the call to our representative was out-of-the-ordinary, her handling of the situation demonstrates the level of expertise that we are proud to be known for.

When you call AudioConexus you get a human. When you get our sales department, you get a person interested in solving your problem. Even if that problem happens to be where to take your group on a factory walking tour in Kansas City, MO.

We do hope that they had a great time!

What to Expect on an AudioConexus Onsite Installation

To produce the high quality services AudioConexus is known for, our projects undergo a number of crucial steps. The final key milestone with our clients is the onsite installation of our systems. Our technicians travel to the client’s destination with prior planning and preparation for a seamless installation.

Once our technicians arrive onsite the first thing our clients should expect is an onsite installation meeting. This meeting covers lots of important areas prior to an installation. Some of which include the installation responsibilities and scope of work, a review of the installation plan and the checking of the shipped equipment and tools. The onsite meeting covers fine details such as safety rules and special considerations of both the workplace and the workers. Once the client and our technicians cover all this vital information the installation can begin!

Through many projects at AudioConexus we have found working hand in hand with the client during installations has many valuable rewards. Throughout installation, the client works closely to learn the important aspects of our hardware. Our clients also know their vehicles intimately; therefore, working together provides clear passage of information to provide an easy and flawless installation.

When the installation is complete, we ensure no questions remain about installation or maintenance of their new system. Our goal is to train and work closely with our clients so that one trip transforms our system into their system. Our installation team has experience working on all different types of vehicles and vessels all over the world. We learn everywhere we go, and bring that knowledge with us.

*Photo is of Dave Mains from Technical (left) on one of our most recent installations.

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Be Immersed in Savannah Georgia with The Best Savannah Tour Company

The Best Savannah Tour Company is a family owned and operated walking tour company that blossomed from the Michaels’ love for their beautiful city of Savannah, Georgia.

The Michaels live in an 1850s historic townhouse in downtown Savannah, and love to show visitors how truly amazing their city is.

T.C. Michaels – a classically trained actor, historical storyteller, and radio personality in Savannah for a number of years – guides visitors on their walking tour experience. His wife Brenna – a novelist – is responsible for marketing, managing the website, and guest services. She also accompanies her husband on tours and makes sure everyone enjoys their experience.

“It’s not just a tour, it’s an experience in storytelling and sharing. It’s personal. So, it’s not just someone pointing something out to you, we’re a company that is submerging you into the history,” explained T.C.

Together, T.C. and his wife Brenna take visitors on a journey through history, while showcasing the city’s stunning and distinguished scenery. Visitors may even have the opportunity to meet a few of Savannah’s oldest locals, and by that we mean ghosts!

From a Colorful Past to a Brilliant Future

The City of Savannah’s story began in 1733, shaping not only the state of Georgia, but the world at large. As the oldest city in Georgia, and the most haunted in the United States, it originally began as a debtors’ prison – for those in the 18th century who were unable to pay their debts and were sentenced to work them off.

While Savannah began as a prison, it has transformed into historic squares, beautiful gardens, and big city park. Today, the city sees approximately 13.7 million visitors a year.

T.C. identified the need for tours with a differentiator.

“All the incredible stories here have really affected people’s lives. I saw that there was something missing from the walking tours. And now we’re proud to be the only walking company that utilizes audio devices to support our storytelling,”  T.C. explained.

[Other tour groups] were walking from location to location with nothing was going on in between. So, I took my radio background and when I found AudioConexus and the products they offered, it was perfect, and exactly what I wanted the experience to be for my guests.”

Differentiation by Immersion

In the late summer of 2016, the Michaels purchased a HearMe Tour Guide System to enhance their walking tour experience and distinguish themselves in the market.

“Taking the museum experience outside is what I wanted to do. When you walk around a museum, you have those earbuds in, and there’s narration. I wanted to bring that live radio show style to the walking tour.”

The HearMe Tour Guide System enables the Best Savannah Tour Company to transmit live narration and pre-recorded audio to their tour groups. This allowed T.C. to bring his unique radio show background to the storytelling experience, by portraying the life and events of historic Savannah in fun and engaging ways.

“We utilized the auxiliary input feature of the tour guide system where I can share actor’s voiceover letters, speeches, and journals – so that when we’re standing in front of a location, I’m playing what actually took place inside that house or location. It really took our tour to a whole new level. For instance, there’s a home called the Green-Meldrim House, and it’s where General William Sherman stayed during the civil war. That house is where Field Order #15 took action, giving 40 acres of land to freed slave families. We’re able to play audio of actual letters from that time. And that’s really amazing.”

The HearMe transmitter has an auxiliary input designed to support an additional tour guide. It’s also used for playing pre-recorded audio like music, excerpts, and character re-enactments. T.C. especially utilizes this feature to enhance his storytelling, creating walking tours his guest rave about and keep coming back for!

“I play excerpts of letters between General Sherman and President Abraham Lincoln of what he wrote when he was in that house. Its not just me talking, it’s a narration, a story, it’s sharing, it’s personal with our guests. Mixing live and pre-recorded stories for guests using HearMe means our customers get value for their money.”

Not only has HearMe enabled the Best Savannah Tour Company to stand out, the tour guide system has also allowed for a more relaxed tour environment.

“With our night tour, we’re doing some investigations of ghosts – because Savannah’s the most haunted city in the United States – but I’ll have people around the location taking pictures or investigating. They have the HearMe so they don’t have to be right next to me to hear a story. They can breathe a little bit, and that’s the best thing about it. Also, with both our day and night tours, parents love the audio equipment and earbuds. If they have a child whose crying, they can go to the other side of the square or street, and they can still hear me more than 200 feet away. That means they can listen in and not miss anything. So, parents of young ones really love this. Of course, older guests love it too because it’s hard to hear tour guides in bigger groups – but not with our tours. They hear every word.”

In addition to parents, Savannah sees many foreign language visitors from around the world, many of them choosing Best Savannah Tour Company as their guide.

For me it’s a city, there’s noises. We’re the number one tour for guests from out of the country because English is their second language. The earbuds help them cut through the noise and distractions.”

The Philosophy behind The Best Savannah Tour Company…

For T.C. and Brenna, their passion for their work and for their city is apparent. It’s not just about showing guests their hometown, it’s about creating emotional connections and cherished memories.

“For us, I really like the live aspect because I get to know my guests personally. Its not just me talking to strangers. I get to ask them questions about where they’re from. Then I’ll connect stories to their lives so they can have some personalization with Savannah.”

T.C. recounted one instance when two men really connected with his tour:

“I never thought one of my stories would make someone cry, but the other day these two men got emotional when I was talking about our history. If it’s the difference between me saying something fact-based, and using the equipment to tell a story in a theatrical way. It brings people closer to the message. My background is classical theater. I’m not just a guide, I’m a professional storyteller.

Currently, the Best Savannah Tour Company is growing, increasing business by consistently achieving five-star ratings on TripAdvisor and Yelp. They hope to expand their tours to include options such as boutique shopping and plantation tours.

“We’re family owned and operated. We don’t have the overhead of larger businesses – its just us. So, if anyone wants to start a business, it takes passion, perseverance, and commitment to do it. Our philosophy is simple. We treat every guest as our best friend. Treat everyone as your best friend, they’re going to love it.”

AudioConexus is proud to have them as a part of our family and we’re excited to see what success the future holds for them!

*The Best Savannah Tour Company is now known as Genteel & Bard Fine Savannah Tours.

If you want to be featured in our next story or would like more information, please fill out our contact form HERE.

Creating an Out-Of-This-World Visitor’s Experience for Kennedy Space Center

AudioConexus has been excitedly working on a major project over the past year and a half, alongside other industry leaders to create an unforgettable visitor’s experience for the Kennedy Space Center located in Titusville, Florida.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s handheld SmartGuide brings together the latest technologies to provide an out-of-this-world customized tour experience. Visitors can view stunning photographs, multi-lingual audio, historic videos and map information customized to each attraction or location via location awareness.

Q Media Productions led the project, assembling a team of unique vendors to deliver multilingual context-sensitive content, Augmented Reality, audio sync for video screens, and a host of other functions in a unified manner throughout a vast complex that includes a 45-minute bus tour!

AudioConexus provided mobile content, triggering expertise, and systems integration.

Stasha Boyd, Project Manager and Creative Director for Q Media observes, “AudioConexus was essential to the success of this large and complex project: buses, theaters, outdoor and indoor exhibits, BlueTooth, GPS, RF and more. Their technical expertise, combined with personal integrity and a commitment to creative problem solving, was essential to integrate so many varied platforms. Without a wide base of technical knowledge, this installation would not have been possible.”

The project was a year and a half in the making.  Jess Davis, Technical Manager at AudioConexus, reflects on her time with the team, “We all kept the client’s needs foremost in our minds and it helped us all reach the finish line together.  I’m grateful to have been part of such a fantastic team for such a unique project.”

It was a complex, challenging and rewarding project that resulted in the most technologically advanced mobile media visitor experience in North America.  AudioConexus is very honored and proud to have been a part of this project.

 

Project credits:

Client: Delaware North Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Project management and creative direction: Q Media Productions, Inc.
Content production: Q Media Productions, Inc.
App development (Smart Guides and Space Chase!): Fluxguide
Equipment: Imagineear MPti™ players, headphones and charging racks
Technical installation and integration: Audio Conexus, Inc.
AR programming: 5dLabs
AR content production: Nth Degree
360º photography: Dennis Biela Photography

 

Collaboration: Key to a Great Script

When AudioConexus writes a script for a tour, the rules of mathematics don’t apply: for us, 1 + 1 = 3! A successful audio script is more than the sum of its parts. The synergy of a client’s expertise with ours produces something greater, a surefire tour that engages, entertains, and enlightens. That’s why AudioConexus values collaboration with clients.

Clients Provide Intimate Knowledge of Site & Subject

No one knows the subject matter better than a client with years of on-site experience. They know what has and hasn’t worked in past tours, and have chosen a direction for the future. They know their visitors, whether they’re local seniors returning with their grandkids or international travelers visiting for the first time. From the company CEO to the bus drivers, every member of the client team has an invaluable perspective to share.

One of the first things we ask for is a list of FAQs, visitor questions that clients hear time and again. AudioConexus also studies current tour structure, including how the route, timing, and content vary based on factors like traffic patterns, tidal flow, weather, and time of day.

We ask clients for an “elevator pitch” to visitors: how would they describe their site in 30 seconds? What emotion do they want to evoke? What do they want visitors to do after the tour: spend more time exploring, book additional tours and services, or plan future visits?

AudioConexus Brings Fresh Eyes & Communications Expertise

Our writers and tour designers visit the site to interface with the client team and evaluate the experience of first-time visitors. Clients may know every detail—all the trees—but as newcomers, we see the forest, how those details fit together to form a complete picture.

Our writers understand the nuances of AudioConexus tour technology, and how to create tours in multiple languages. Because of cultural and linguistic differences, a statement that’s meaningful or funny in English may not have the same impact translated into Japanese.

AudioConexus writes in language that flows off the tongue and registers immediately. Our scripts convey subject matter in different styles, whether a single-voice narrative, dramatic monologue, or dialogue that stimulates listeners’ imaginations and understanding. Fully produced tours combine music, sound effects, and actors’ voices to create atmosphere and mood in the style of old-time radio drama.

First and foremost, we tell stories. Facts are important but stories lodge in the memory. If the site includes a structure made of 10-tonne blocks of granite, the weight and dimensions won’t register as vividly as a story about quarrying the stone, hauling blocks to the site, and fitting them together.

The Perfect Tour Has Many Authors

AudioConexus writers are the opposite of temperamental artists: we welcome criticism, direction, and feedback. AudioConexus tours spring from a collaborative meeting of the minds. They reflect the combined perspectives of insiders and outsiders to produce a tour that’s unique and custom made, one that works every time for every visitor.

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 dance floor!

“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, and 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!

 

If you want to be featured in our next story or would like more information, please fill out our contact form HERE.

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!