International Tour Management Institute (ITMI), America’s premier training program for tour directors and tour guides, and MyTourGuide.com a newly formed division of TravelBrains, an award-winning publisher of destination-based travel books and multimedia programs, announce the formation of a unique partnership. Leveraging the knowledge and expertise of the more than 6,000 professional tour directors and tour guides, who have graduated from ITMI, MyTourGuide.com will begin to distribute downloadable iPhone audio and multimedia travel apps in April 2011.
“Recognizing the explosive demand for special interest iPhone applications, I believe that the expertise of ITMI’s tour directors, will allow us to provide an unlimited supply of new and exciting content for consumers who seek instant access to a plethora of information about the places they visit,” said Paul Davis, CEO of MyTourGuide.com. “Using these apps is like having a virtual tour guide right in your hand.”
Ted Bravos, CEO of ITMI notes: “The partnership with MyTourGuide.com offers a tremendous opportunity for our graduates to showcase the vast knowledge and expertise they have acquired during the course of their careers. Developing content for iPhone apps allows them to capture the passion and excitement of their experiences and translate them into entertaining and memorable programs for consumers.”
Because MyTourGuide.com is an open platform, it offers a unique ability to deliver a wide variety of content that appeals to an increasingly diverse customer base. “Working with ITMI ensures that we will always have access to exceptional storytellers who can describe travel destinations from numerous perspectives,” Paul Davis added.
According to the Office of Travel and Tourism, over 55 million international tourists visited the USA in 2009. Listed below are the top 10 countries of origin.
1 Canada 18.0 million
2 Mexico 13.2 million
3 U.K. 3.9 million
4 Japan 2.9 million
5 Germany 1.7 million
6 France 1.2 million
7 Brazil 0.9 million
8 Italy 0.8 million
9 S. Korea 0.7 million
10 Australia 0.7 million
Here’s some food for thought: foreign language tours. Of course, it helps if you speak another language fluently. But even if you don’t speak another language, you have several options for creating foreign language tours.
Option 1: Have a friend who speaks a foreign language translate and narrate your tour. This is a great low cost option, but has some drawbacks. For example, you’re limited in languages to those that your friends know and the quality of the narration might not be as engaging as you would deliver.
Option 2: Professional translation and voice over services. If you have your script all typed up and ready to record, you can get it translated and narrated by a professional voice actor. Translation services are widely available on the Internet. A search for “translation services” will give you over 5 million results. Some of the translation sites can even do the narration and deliver you the MP3 files. Alternatively, you can take your translated script to voice over sites like Voices.com and get the script narrated by professional voice actors speaking in their native language.
Option 3: Submit your script for translation and narration project to freelance work sites. At these sites, freelance talent will bid on your project. You can then accept the best candidate to do the work and know the price in advance. Here are some good choices to consider for freelance sites: oDesk.com, Guru.com, and Elance.com.
If you decide to create some foreign language tours, you might be interested in knowing the most popular destinations for international visitors. According to the Office of Travel and Tourism, the top 20 cities for overseas visitors in 2009 were:
1 New York City
3 Los Angeles
5 San Francisco
6 Las Vegas
7 Washington, DC
11 San Diego
15 Flagstaff/Grand Canyon/Sedona
16 Tampa/St. Petersburg
18 Anaheim-Santa Ana
20 San Jose
Do you know Atlanta like the back of your hand? We’re looking for great tours of the Atlanta region to showcase at the ITMI Symposium in January. Publish a mobile tour of any locations in the Atlanta region on the MyTourGuide website by January 12 and we will feature it with a free 1/4 page promotion in our Atlanta tour catalog. We will be distributing the catalog in Atlanta during the Symposium.
In addition to the exposure your tour will receive through the tour catalog, MyTourGuide is working with the Atlanta CVB to promote mobile tours through the MyTourGuide platform. The CVB reaches over 2.5 million guests via its website alone. With the CVB’s support, we will be able to get your tour into the hands of many potential customers.
Don’t miss this opportunity. Creating a tour is easy at MyTourGuide.com! Here are some potential tour locations to consider:
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Neighborhoods: Little Five Points, East Atlanta, Cabbagetown, and Buckhead
Atlanta History Center
Marietta Historic District
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
One final suggestion. Keep your tours between 8-12 tour stops with 3-4 minutes of narration at each stop. That will ensure that the time required to download your tour is short and easy for customers to accomplish. Let us know if you have any questions – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are approximately 10 million fourth graders in the US. Probably all of them are learning about their home state this year in school. Here in New Hampshire, my kids learned about the unsung hero of the American Revolution, General John Stark, who gave us our motto, “Live Free or Die; Death is not the worst of evils.” Stark happens to be one of my two most beloved historical figures, so I took my kids over to Manchester to see General Stark’s home and the statue to him in the local park. It’s an absolutely perfect example of a tour that should be made. There is next to nothing at these locations to explain the history of the people and places that shaped our state and country. How great would it be to have a tour that complemented what my child was learning in the classroom. It would be great to be able to share a fun day exploring these sites with my kids and learning at the same time. Those kind of experiences create wonderful memories and give so much more meaning to the history the kids are supposed to remember. They’re also the kind of experiences that parents are willing to spend money on!
So here’s some food for thought. Get a hold of the 4th grade history curriculum at your local school and see what they’re learning. Pick some local sites that played an essential role in the state’s history and put together several tours that reinforce the curriculum. I would even consider creating a short quiz that you can attach to your tour as a PDF document (you can do this in the main tour info tab on the tour editor). Add some augmented reality images of famous people and you’ll have the students begging to take the tour! (see the example of Abraham Lincoln below)
Once you have your tour published – contact the local papers and have them do a story about it! Even better – get to know the teacher and see if he/she would mention the tour in the school notes that go home to parents. Now you have a built in audience that gets refreshed every year.
Oftentimes when we sit down to create a tour, we become so focused on the stories and the content of the tour that we don’t spend enough time thinking about who will be experiencing the tour and how we can make it more useful for them. So here’s some food for thought to get you inspired to create tours that are tailored to specific customers:
Start at the customer’s front door. Create a tour that starts at a specific hotel. Make the first tour stop the lobby and then lead the customer on a 30-minute walking tour of the area. Either have the tour route circle back to the hotel or create the tour so the customer ends up at some popular destination where people often head to from that hotel (e.g. the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta). Ask the concierges for suggestions – find out where people often go and create the tour that will entertain them while they go from hotel to destination. That way, when a guest asks for directions on how to get to that location, the concierge would be crazy not to recommend a fun activity to do along the way.
Here’s another idea – runners. Runners often run with their iPod and earphones. Create a tour along a popular running route or through an historic section of town or national park. When the guest asks the concierge for a recommendation on where to run, your trail tour is the ideal guide!
Remember, think outside the box! You can make as many tours as you like at MyTourGuide.
Lastly – Try to get two to three tours done by the end of January so we can include them in the concierge catalogs we’re putting together. Keep up the good work!
For many of us in the travel industry, winter is the slow season. That means it’s the perfect time to be creating mobile tours at MyTourGuide! Put that little bit of extra time you have right now to good use by creating mobile tours that can earn extra income for you all year long. Here’s some food for thought to get you started. (Keep an eye out for the Food for thought post – we’ll be offering more ideas on a regular basis)
Photography tours: We’d love to see some tours that take visitors to great photography locations and offer some tips on taking better pictures. If your a pro photographer – excellent – share some of your secrets for taking classic images of the city! Even if you’re just an aspiring amateur, there are many unique ways to create a photography tour. For example, I’d personally love to see is a silly photo tour – showing me all the places in town where I can stage silly/trick images with my kids, like the one pictured below. Remember – you can create as many tours as you like. They don’t all have to be the same style. Think outside the box!
Let me start this blog post with a big thank you! Thank you for your patience during our development process. We are a small team and we have been working around the clock to upgrade the site over the past several months. I am happy to say that the newest version of MyTourGuide is open and ready to use.
One of the biggest differences that you will notice with the new tour editor is the media library. You can use the media library to upload and store your tour content (images, audio files, video, and augmented reality images). You can also use the built-in recording feature to record audio narration to use in your tours. All of your media files will be stored in your media library and can be used in any of your tours. One of my favorite aspects of the new media library is the drag and drop feature – If you want to add content to your tour, simply drag and drop any piece of content from your library onto your POIs or stories and it will become part of the tour.
The second thing I would like to do is to ask a favor. If you previously created tours on the site using our first version of the tour editor, I would like to request that you inspect the text description fields of your tours. When we imported your tours and their contents into the new tour editor, some text descriptions were imported with extra HTML text. You can delete any text that does not belong in the text descriptions of your tours or points of interest. I apologize for this hassle.
We are currently doing the final testing of the iPhone app this week and are shooting for Friday to submit it to Apple. Once the iPhone app is approved, we will officially be open for business. Between then and now, the website is open and available for you to develop tours, but it will not be possible to download tours until our app is officially approved by Apple. When we receive the official approval, we will enable downloads from the website and through the iPhone app.
Finally, I will be setting up a series of webinars to assist tour guides with using the new tools available on the web site. The first webinar will be this Friday. I will post the exact time and registration information tomorrow.
Once again, thank you for your patience and I look forward to seeing your tours!