Q Media: Audio Tour Experts

Delivering your goals, to your visitors, within your budget.

Are they listening?

Many orgnaizations use software to track how listeners respond to their audio tour. And often, when facilities find that tracks aren’t listened to in their entirety, they conclude that “the listener isn’t interested in audio tours,” RATHER than “their audio production isn’t interesting.” Visitor behavior, they call it. It reminds me of how film students will cry that the audience didn’t “get it” rather than acknowledge they were the ones with the responsibility to be understood.

I’m baffled. Visitors were interested enough to get in their cars and come to the site, interested enough to pay their admission, interested enough to take the audio tour, but then suddenly not interested in the information they were seeking? Not likely. More likely, they didn’t like what they heard. And the reason they didn’t like it was because it wasn’t presented effectively.

I’ve sat through too many chicken-little-the-sky-is-falling seminars that bemoan the short attention spans of teenagers and the younger generation. Too many delivery service providers refer to the term “snacking” to explain why cell phone listeners tend to hang up after hearing about 10 – 15 seconds of  content. I’ve endured lots of “professionals” whining about the changing nature of the general population and how we want to experience our heritage, cultural, and artistic sites. There’s knowledge to be gained from these discussions, but an underlying truth remains: very few of these discussions address the idea that maybe the content being presented for public consumption, for lack of a better word, sucks.

Now let me be perfectly clear. I’ve heard do-it-yourself audio tour productions that are top of the line engaging and “professionally produced tours” so uninspiring they had to be endured through sheer willpower. It’s skill that creates an effective audio tour.

How can you tell if your tour is effective? It would be great if everyone could afford the time and money needed to conduct constant visitor feedback surveys but since that is not generally practical, you use the technology — collect the correct data — to track what your visitors are actually doing. Not by the pick-up rate (i.e. the number of visitors who choose to take the audio tour) which measures the effectiveness of your marketing and sales efforts, but by whether they LISTENED to your content.

So how do we correct the problem? Embrace both sides of your audio tour — what you’re listening to and how you’re listening to it.“What” is the quality of your production; “How” is you choice of delivery device (e.g. audio guide hardware, cell phone, or mp3 palyer. Notice, you address it BEFORE you produce  your tour. The quality and effectiveness of your production matters to your listener and, if you’re interested in understanding rather than delivery, it should matter to you.

If you want to add an audio tour to your program, the first step is to acknowledge the importance of both “what” and “how.” Then address both questions in your planning. The best delivery device will not compensate for poor content production. Next, assess your reseources (i.e. time, people, money) and budget then determine how much outsourced support you need. At the very least, consider adding an audio tour consultant or a person experienced in audio tour production to your team. At best, find an experienced audio tour production team to work with you to develop your tour. Finally, review the right data and assess your tour’s effectiveness.

Quality and experience matter. If your visitors aren’t listening, it’s not their fault. It’s yours.

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