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 www.agawatrain.com

Enriching Experiences Through Language Translation

Translation Starts With Storytellers

Thinking about translation? Imagine what it would be like as a tour operator to be able to attract visitors from around the world? How would visitors experience all that you offer in their native languages? AudioConexus recognizes how important this is to your business and your visitors.

Starting with a well-written script is key to good translation.

AudioConexus Writers are true storytellers, who specialize in writing for audio productions. We begin every project by conducting research and collaborating with you to gain a much better understanding of your business, venue and your vision for the future. Our Storytellers then immerse themselves in your experience and write your stories, taking into account many details, such as theme, audience and timing.

Step Over the Literal Translation Trap

A tour is written with the understanding that it will be translated into other languages. Writing a script with this in mind means the Writer must choose his or her words carefully.

Consider the many phrases and words that will not translate into other languages. Humour and slang use requires careful consideration. What works in English may be meaningless or worse yet, be offensive in some cultures.

Our translators do not translate scripts literally word for word. They translate stories while staying within timing templates required for multilingual productions.

A literal translation of an English script into other languages creates audio segments in varying lengths. Because timing is crucial, Storytellers capture the essence of stories, writing for audience and cultural sensitivity. Professional writers ensure your script is clear, authentic and easy to understand when spoken.

Professional voice talents record the audio in a manner which matches the feel and flow of the English production. The magic happens when they have great scripts to read from.

Our focus is to create entertaining and fun tours for all your visitors, no matter what language they speak. If you’re considering translations, your first step is to avoid the literal translation trap while sticking to the constraints of timing.

Gain ROI By Increasing Shoulder Seasons Visitation

Competing For Visitors In Your Market

Multilingual and multi-topical tours have been beneficial for both large and small sightseeing operators around the world. With the tourism industry’s global economic contribution estimated to be close to $8 trillion U.S. dollars in 2016, there are many opportunities for sightseeing companies to increase revenue and profits. Right now, many tour operators are focused on meeting the growing market demands for higher calibre sightseeing tours in several languages. Why this growing trend? Many companies recognize that empty seats represent revenue lost, never to be regained.

In today’s environment, to secure foreign language visitors (Free & Independent Travellers, wholesale group travel and receptive operators), competitive offerings are essential. Tour operators competing in the same market with similar tours are often forced into a commodity-based pricing strategy. He who has the lowest prices wins. Price alone is the main differentiating factor for visitors. This market strategy is a losing proposition for everyone.

Securing Visitors in Your Shoulder Seasons

Implementing multilingual GPS commentary systems capable of delivering multiple languages has proven to be highly effective and rewarding (for both the tour operator and the visitor). International wholesale group tour operators are actively seeking language specific tour experiences for their customers. And those companies stepping up to offer foreign language guest experiences are winning market share.

Group travel markets provide sightseeing operators with more business, with foreign language markets providing invaluable sources of revenue while increasing language specific passenger loads. This helps to further enhance foreign language marketing initiatives in order to effectively evaluate return on investment.

The ability to fill seats beyond the traditional peak tourism season by increasing ticket sales in the shoulder seasons is an integral part of strategy. By providing multi-language tours and building relationships with international tour wholesalers, you’re gaining ROI.

With the movement to expand language (and topic) offerings, many of our customers are achieving amazing results. Tour operators are increasing visitation and growing “shoulder season” passenger loads by tapping into key foreign language markets – from overseas and at home. Few operators struggle with lots of empty seats during the height of peak tour season. However, our customers’ maximizing passenger loads during the “shoulder seasons” tell us that it’s the differentiating factor between a good and a highly successful operating season. Multi-language tours provides them with the leading edge they need to outpace their competitors.

Lower Manhattan Tours Uses HearMe Tour Guide Systems To Enhance Visitor Experiences

Lower Manhattan Tours offers a variety of guided walking tours focused on the ever-changing Lower Manhattan. Lower Manhattan Tours caters to the entire lower Manhattan area and offers an assortment of tours that cover topics such as the 9/11 Memorial, Alexander Hamilton, the World Trade Center Architecture and in October, even a ghost tour!

A Lower Manhattan Exclusive

Lower Manhattan Tours began as Wall Street Walks and was founded in 2008 by Annaline Dinkelman, a Wall Street businesswoman with a background in technology.

“In 2008, I was the first person focusing on Wall Street and the Stock Market. I was passionate about the subject. Now I am really branding my tours from Wall Street to Lower Manhattan tours because there is so much more to see now than there was eight years ago. 9/11 brought a lot of attention and money to Lower Manhattan and therefore its so much bigger than it was before,” says Annaline.

As Lower Manhattan grew and evolved, so has Annaline’s tours. In busy downtown New York, there is so much going on all the time. As a tour guide, the street noise and commotion can easily distract from or drown out a live narrated tour. To avoid this, tour guides are required to take smaller groups with them on a tour so everyone can hear the stories being shared. Even then, the loud busy city atmosphere can be disruptive. To solve this problem, Annaline purchased AudioConexus’ wireless group tour solution, HearMe.

“The HearMe Tour Guide System helps me lead a much bigger group tour […] The HearMe devices are so much more elegant and when I watch people on my tours I can tell they are so much more engaged then on tours that are using amplification devices.”

The HearMe tour guide system’s noise cancelling boom microphone is designed to be used in loud and busy environments – such as Manhattan. It allows the tour guide to deliver the same clear, crisp, high quality audio to all members of a tour group, whether they are directly in front, or at the very back of a group. Tour goers also have the ability to adjust their headset to their preferred volume level.

Other types of systems, such as amplification, only increase the noise in an already noisy environment. Therefore, Annaline has the competitive edge using HearMe as tourists are less distracted on her tours.

“The HearMe tour guide system makes my tours much better. […] It makes a huge difference. […] If there’s one thing I wish we could do is, inform tourists about the difference between the HearMe and other types of amplification systems. People don’t realize how they’re missing out when they take tours because they can’t hear. With my tours I feel they get the full tour value and more,” says Annaline when asked about her tourist experience with HearMe.

A Multilingual Manhattan

At the end of 2015, Lower Manhattan Tours introduced Multi language tours to address a large increase in foreign language travellers – specifically German, French, and Spanish speakers.

New York is known for its major tourist destinations such as the Empire State Building and Broadway, and in 2014 it saw 56.5 million foreign visitors. Trends demonstrate that these numbers are likely to continue to grow from year to year.

“One of the things that I love about the HearMe is the multiple channels. It allows me to broadcast on channel 5 in English and broadcast on channel 6 in Spanish. Sometimes I also broadcast in French at the same time. We’re doing this trilingual tour all through the HearMe system,” says Annaline.

Using one of the HearMe’s speciality features, the auxiliary input, Annaline and her team are able to translate and record their tours in different languages. They use these tours to playback pre-recorded tour commentary to their foreign language guests while she’s giving the tour live in English.

“Many people that are travelling; their kids can speak English but the parents can’t. They love that the family can all enjoy the tour and participate all at the same time.”

Currently, Lower Manhattan Tours has begun to offer their tours in 6 languages – English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Annaline has begun to translate her tours into Mandarin and aims to debut them in the summer of 2016.

Annaline’s company is located on Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York. It has been awarded Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence and has been added to Trip Advisor’s Hall of Fame for 2015. In addition, they have been featured in Time Out New York, Associated Press, Spotlight, Neighbourhood Splice, USA Today, Battery Park City Broadsheet, Bloomberg, Globo, Haaretz, Harriet, The Sunday Telegraph, and Jewish World. Annaline hopes to continue expanding and creating more tours to cover Lower Manhattan as well as continuing to be able to offer as many languages as she can. We wish her continued success!

Click here for more information about New York Tourism Statistics.

North Shore Scenic Railway Gears Up for Premium Passenger Experiences

North Shore Scenic Railroad Gives Their Best Tour Yet!

North Shore Scenic Railroad is a non-profit organization, located in the tourist town of Duluth Minnesota. They operate tour excursions along Lake Superior with historic railroad equipment on a 28-mile track between Duluth and Two Harbors. North Shore offers a multitude of different trips, such as the Two Harbors Turn and their most popular passenger experience, the Duluth Zephyr. Passengers have a choice to sit in one of their many historic coaches or in their First Class, all glass, Dome Car.

Business Needs: Tour Consistency

For almost 30 years North Shore Scenic Railroad has narrated all of their tours, and still have the original scripts. Their tour guides currently range from high school students with part time jobs to historians of Duluth who sometimes enjoy adding their own personal touch to the tours.

“It was important for me coming into this not only from the narrative perspective but also from an operational perspective that every passenger that rides our train should get the same great experience day-to-day,” says Josh Miller, North Shore Scenic Railroad’s Station Manager. “On our daily train excursions we want to provide the exact same experience as the people did yesterday and for the people that come tomorrow. It’s not a unique concept – Disney does it, even McDonalds does it.”

To help standardize their tours, AudioConexus collaborated with North Shore Scenic Railroad, providing the equipment and Route Builder training they required to create a new automated commentary experience. It was also important for Miller and his team to continue to support their passionate tour guides by empowering staff to continue to add their own flavour to the tours – blending prerecorded commentary with live guide interpretation. TourMaster Lite, a GPS system designed for Public Address System audio delivery offered this flexibility. Now Miller’s certain that no matter what, whenever guests leave the station, they’ll go home having experienced something memorable… each and every time.

“To me narration is a very important component that attractions like us often undervalue. Every time our trains depart we have one chance to deliver information that either makes or breaks our patrons’ experience and perception of us. By controlling our message and sharing the information we want to share, we ensure that the quality of experience is always great.”

Solution: Giving the Perfect Experience Every Time!

In 2015, North Shore Scenic Railroad purchased AudioConexus’ Route Builder Software and TourMaster Lite to create their new tour experience.

North Shore has already begun to add celebrity talent and authentic commentators as a key parts of their tour experience. Included in the experience is the mayor of Duluth sharing a story with guests about one of their most popular tourist destinations, the historic Glensheen mansion. The tour will also feature the settlers of a fishing village retelling their history as the train goes by. This concept opens so many doors for North Shore Scenic Railroad to continue to build upon.

Executive Director of the North Shore Scenic Railroad, Ken Bueller, was quoted saying, “This might be one of our best investments ever!” AudioConexus’ TourMaster Lite has enabled North Shore Scenic Railroad to add high-quality consistency to their tours while growing the experiences they offer with authenticity and a personal experience of Duluth, Minnesota.

Miller says “We had to make the decision based on price, but it was also about our brand identity. AudioConexus gives a very strong impression of professionalism and being the industry standard leader. In my experience with the company, the sales people followed through very well and so did the whole team! I went from the sales person, to the installation tech to the trainer who all provided me with everything I required each step of the way.”

Benefits: New Tours and New Experiences

North Shore Scenic Railroad hopes to use TourMaster Lite GPS commentary systems to expand to other train cars offering passengers different tour experiences. “We are containing ourselves to not make this a huge project at first. We have to figure out what we’re doing and where we’re going first. The sky is the limit considering how far we can take this.” Miller and his team hopes to eventually install GPS tour systems in every train coach to provide tailored railway excursions and more speciality type tours such as a more historically rich tour for passengers with a passion for history.

North Shore Scenic Railroad debuts their new tour experience in May 2016. We wish them much success!

Multi-language Tours – The WESTCOAST Goes Multilingual

WEST COAST Sightseeing, located in Vancouver, British Columbia offers a multitude of sightseeing tours and experiences aboard a fleet of coaches and convertible & open-top Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing buses. To address the increase of foreign language visitors aboard their Hop-on, Hop-Off buses, WESTCOAST Sightseeing implemented AudioConexus’ GPS multi-language tours and commentary systems.

Since implementing the GPS tour systems, WESTCOAST Sightseeing has seen an increase in its foreign language business and now provides even higher quality guest experiences. Since the creation of GPS triggered audio productions in seven languages, this visitor experience focused company has been highlighted in foreign productions and brochures praising their high quality tours.

Business Needs: Multi-language Tours

WEST COAST Sightseeing prides themselves in ensuring that everything they do is done in order to satisfy their purpose: Sharing Remarkable Experiences Together – with their team, with their tour guests and with the world. In 2015, WESTCOAST Sightseeing began seeing an increase in Chinese and Spanish speaking markets coming to experience Vancouver’s architectural masterpieces, urban beaches, and coastal rainforests.

Coming in behind the United States as the top inbound market, China was number two for international visitation and overnight stays. To address the growing market demand for foreign language tours, WESTCOAST Sightseeing knew they needed to create better tours that toppled language barriers for its guests.

“As we see the tourism industry develop and evolve it becomes more important to work with countries and markets that are not just English speaking,” says Jason Bryant, Director of Sales and Marketing at WESTCOAST Sightseeing. “It’s a weakness within Canada and within our city that we provide English-only services. There are not many companies that allow for different languages to service the needs of foreign language markets.”

Running an information kiosk located by their cruise location at Canada Place, a national landmark in the heart of Vancouver’s waterfront, the sightseeing company welcomes thousands of visitors and ships coming into port everyday. The need to break down language barriers was clear.

In order to satisfy Vancouver’s need for multi-language tours on their buses and completely fulfill their purpose, WESTCOAST contracted AudioConexus and their Creative team to write a tour commentary script that would be available in 7 different languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin.

“We speak to half a million guests a year out of our Welcome Kiosk at Canada Place, giving visitors’ advice on what to see and experience,” says Bryant. “So we have a really unique opportunity to provide tourists and travellers with information that will lead them to the best experiences in our city.”

Solution: A Perfect Day on the WESTCOAST

In 2015, WESTCOAST Sightseeing worked with AudioConexus Creative Services to write and produce cinematic audio multi-language tours that now play on all of the company’s Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing buses. The project has enabled WESTCOAST Sightseeing to achieve business growth by reaching out to Vancouver’s emerging foreign visitor market with tours that open doors for people who speak different languages.

Through this collaboration, AudioConexus prepared commentary for over 20 Hop-On, Hop-Off stops to give guests the perfect Vancouver day. This includes stops in Chinatown, historic Gastown, Canada Place, Stanley Park, Granville Island, and many more!

“2015 was the best year the company has ever had! Without AudioConexus in 2015, we would have only been able to operate half the buses that we had on our tours. According to Bryant, finding drivers with the ability to provide high quality tour narration is rare and difficult to find in Vancouver. “That’s the number one thing with AudioConexus, they made it possible for us to provide a consistent commentary experience without the extra expense of having train drivers in lengthy commentary delivery.”

AudioConexus’ GPS commentary systems allows WESTCOAST Sightseeing to broaden their market reach by providing tours in several other languages. Visitors plug earbuds (headsets) into audio controllers available at each of the seats to select their language preference.

“We are continuing to produce new tour commentaries as the result of customer feedback and we will constantly adapt to the market because our passion is truly to be the best possible experience for people visiting our city”, says Bryant.

General Manager at WESTCOAST Sightseeing Stuart Coventry adds “Working together with AudioConexus has been a real pleasure. Not only has the introduction of their commentary system realized the business results we were looking for but their team are true professionals – they deliver a quality product in a timely fashion and offer an excellent support system when you are ready to undertake next steps.“

WEST COAST Sightseeing has been awarded Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence from 2012 to 2015. The company is looking to expand into audio guided tours, walking tours, and bike tours in the near future. WEST COAST Sightseeing continues to work with AudioConexus on the expansion of tour commentary and systems to meet its growing needs.

Gray Line WorldwideA proud member of the Gray Line family. Since 1910, Gray Line has been a trusted provider of traveler experiences and sightseeing tours in the world’s most sought after locations. With hundreds of local offices, their team of on-site experts is there to help you see the sights and do the things that you just can’t miss.

HYVA Nordic Walking Rebrands European Fitness Experience in New York City

HYVA Nordic Walking, a recently launched company located in the heart of New York City’s Central Park, is working hard to reintroduce a popular European sport to a westernized fitness culture here in North America by adding their own unique musical twist.

Nordic Walking Offers Great Exercise

Nordic Walking was created in Finland by a cross country skiing coach as an off season training method for athletes. This method of exercise involves exaggerated swinging of legs and arms, which involves 90% of people’s body muscles. It burns 40% more calories than walking, increases oxygen consumption by 46% and the heart by 10 beats per minute. Today, over 12 million people in Europe participate in this growing sport.

HYVA Nordic Walks was founded by Bill Rosson and his wife Sonja Johansson. On a recent trip to Germany, Bill discovered Nordic walking and immediately saw the fitness benefits. But upon his return to the United States, he found that while it’s very popular in Europe, the opportunities to practice it in New York City were very limited.

European Sport is a Western Opportunity

Only approximately 1 million people in the United States participate in Nordic walking. Rosson saw an opportunity in a niche market that hadn’t really been tapped into and he knew it had huge growth potential. So Bill and Sonja began by researching the U.S. market. What they found was Nordic walking had been branded as an exercise for rehabilitation and the elderly population.

Bill explains, “Over in Europe, nordic walking spans all ages, where here in the United States it has more this geriatric and elderly misconception to it. […] The people who are doing it here are 60-70 years old.” Sonja and Bill decided to take on the challenge of killing this misconception by rebranding Nordic walking as a true fitness tool for people of all ages in North America.

In order to rebrand Nordic walking, Bill and Sonja took a different approach to the traditional European method. Typically, it’s done as a nature walk with set of skinny poles, however, people in the west are so accustomed to being highly stimulated when working out. Many people need music or television. Bill and Sonja recognized this and decided they needed music on their walks to modernize Nordic walking to better fit the way people exercise.

The problem they encountered was bringing music outdoors without disturbing others, while still allowing a leader to communicate cues to their group, often led by the music.

Bringing Music into the Fitness Experience

To solve this issue, HYVA recruited the help of AudioConexus and our wireless group tour solution, HearMe. HearMe allows HYVA’s group leaders the ability to communicate instructions while playing music. Using an auxiliary input on the transmitter, Instructors know how to use music in a group setting while wearing a head worn microphone to provide the instructional information the group needs.

The HearMe’s noise cancelling boom microphone also omits any of the outside environmental noise that New York has to offer. “The system has been really amazing. It’s worked so beautifully. Our concern was because we were in such a high traffic area in the middle of Central Park amongst huge sky scrappers surrounding the park and the environmental noise like traffic and horns and sirens the solution wouldn’t work. There’s a lot going on. My first concern was, are we going to have problems with the channels or need to scan to move frequencies? But we haven’t had any problems at all. The HearMe Tour Guide System has aided HYVA’s mission of rebranding Nordic walking. We are incorporating music into our walks to create a whole new modern form of Nordic walking, a more exciting and a more stimulating one. Without AudioConexus being a medium for the music, we really couldn’t rebrand this here in the States.”

Bill and Sonja named their company HYVA, which means ‘good’. The name originated from the feeling that is achieved through the practice of Nordic walking. “We just want to make people feel really good about doing it. We want people to get outdoors, get out of the gym, and feel the same experience they can share in the gym, but outdoors and in touch with nature.”

Outdoor Fitness in Central Park and Beyond

Groups meet in Central Park every other day and walk along a Bridle Path, a soft surface composite that is easy on the joints. To learn more about Central Park’s fitness programs click here: HYVA nordic walking class description.

HYVA’s goal is to license the program and expand to other cities across the country, either to individuals who want to be certified in the HYVA technique or gyms who wish to run a Nordic walk program. They are currently recording more soundtracks for future walks to help them with the expansion of their business.

We wish them much success!

The Key to Making the BIGGEST Tour Impact on Your Visitors

What may seem mundane and routine for you as a tour operator can actually be a great source of entertainment for your guests.

You know the ins and outs of your tour route, what lays behind the ‘employees only’ door, what happens when all the lights go off at the end of the day and where to go for the best grub experience off the beaten path.

The secret to making an impact on your visitors is to remember this – you have the inside scoop and your visitors desperately want to know what that is?

The best tours incorporate their behind the scenes knowledge and share it with their guests. It’s the insider experience that visitors crave and want to spend their time to get it. When your guests take your tour they want to get to know you. They want to know the ins and outs of the place their visiting. Who doesn’t love feeling like their getting special treatment?

That’s exactly how your guests should feel, like they’re getting the V.I.P. experience with the stories you choose to tell. However brief their time is with you, visitors should leave feeling as though they hit the jack pot.

So what sort of things should you share?

Well, this is the tricky part. Everyone has their icons they can’t ignore – imagine going on a sightseeing tour in Paris and the Eiffel Tower isn’t addressed? It’d seem rather odd and as though you’re missing out on a grand experience. But aside from the icons, it’s the little things that matter too. What do the locals do on a Sunday afternoon? Where do they eat? Where do people go off the guidebooks? Where are the authentic experiences? Where do you explore?

The best way to make your guests feel like they have the inside scoop is to make them feel like a local. Lead people to unplanned experiences – and share with them the very essence of the place you call home. Put yourself in their shoes, if you were a first time visitor what would most intrigue you? What would you, or wouldn’t you, notice immediately?

Don’t give a guidebook tour or an experience someone could get from armchair browsing. Give them that something special, hidden, or off the beaten path by sharing your insider knowledge. Trust us, they’ll thank you for it!