Q Media: Audio Tour Experts

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

Archive for Producer’s Corner

Q Media works with Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson

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Q Media recently had the privilege of working with Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson when he lent his voice to the welcome and closing stops of the Q Media produced Kennedy Space Center audio tour. (Primary English tour narrators were Chris Hurt and Ellen Sowney). Dr. Tyson was a great choice to reach out to be part of the tour because all involved with the project believed he would bring a passion for the importance of continuing space exploration that few others could have.

Dr. Tyson was contacted by NASA about contributing to the tour and he was happy to assist. From speaking before Congress for NASA funding, to even his appearances on ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’, Dr. Tyson is consistent in his message that space exploration is critical to the health and well-being of our nation and mankind.

Mike Lutz and Stasha Boyd were able to meet with Dr. Tyson at the Hayden Planetarium while working in New York on the upcoming project for Dock 102 on Governor’s Island. Dr. Tyson was recorded in his office and he was charming and affable – a gentleman to work with and the experience of working with him was a wonderful one.

So if you find yourself at Kennedy Space Center please do yourself a favor and take the audio tour. There are 45 selected stops for the tour throughout the KSC complex and it was produced in English, Mandarin, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and also as an Audio Described Tour for the visually impaired with a sign language tour also produced for the hearing impaired. It provides great stories, vignettes and insights into KSC and you will hear one of America’s premier astrophysicists set the tone for your tour experience!

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Knowing how to swing a hammer doesn’t make you a psychologist…

                                 Hammer                  We recently lost a bid to a competitor. After asking for feedback why so we could be better in the future , criticism was offered and was fair and was provided with the utmost respect and objectivity. The feedback we received regarding why we didn’t get the project was the tour sample we sent (the one closest in subject matter to the project we were bidding on) didn’t reflect their perceptions of how they envisioned the creative direction for their audio tour. Fair enough; but I wanted to add something I thought was missing from the equation when they evaluated our sample: the fact that we produced that tour in collaboration with that client. That tour reflected the vision of the previous client; it is what they wanted and achieves what they wanted to say. It delivers the goals they defined for how they wanted their visitors to interact with their space. Not to say it’s perfect – I can think of small things in any tour we’ve produced that afterwards I thought a change could improve – but the point is that working closely with the client was how that tour came to be. If we had won this recent proposal, we would have pursued the same spirit of collaboration with our new client because that is how we operate with ALL of our clients. At the end of the day, it is their vision and goals that need to be communicated through the audio tour. Of course we offer our learned perspective based on our experience and know-how, but in the end, the client is always right and we produce the tour they want.

And that brings me to the weird title of this post. Being able to drive a nail doesn’t mean you can build a house, or coordinate effectively with all the other folks needed to achieve that complicated goal. And like construction, skill sets need to be available for many aspects of audio tour production. Working with the people aspect — the group dynamics, the creative team, the psychology, if you will — of how a tour comes together is, indeed, the best thing that we know we bring to any project. Is the staff at the facility on the same page when it comes to the approach and content? If not, who brings about the cohesion to make that happen? Are the goals being defined and refined to meet what the theme of what the tour should be? Who facilitates the compromises when there are different viewpoints? Is there good working chemistry between the front-end creative team (writer, producer, and director) and the experts assigned to the project by the facility? If not, how can this be overcome and adapted to bring about excellence?

These factors are just some of the challenges that need to be addressed and they change each time we produce a tour. So in the future, we suggest that when you evaluate a proposal, or a bid, don’t simply ask yourself if the tour sample is similar in style or tone to what you want. Call and ask the previous client if the tour sample reflects what they wanted. Find out if the production team brought something to the table that improved on the vision they had at the start. Ask if the production process created a better outcome than they started with. That’s the key to producing a good audio tour – listening to the client and delivering the result they want.

Revenue Share Audio Tours

MPj04331180000[1]The first half of year 2009 has been tough. Donations, sponsorships, attendance are all down, down, down. Across the board our clients tell us they are getting hit in the pocketbook by things over which they have little or no control. “What we have to do is bring in more money without spending our cash reserves.” Exactly. Which is why if you don’t already have a revenue share audio tour with Q Media, then I highly suggest you give us a call.

Most organizations are familiar with a standard revenue share arrangement–the vendor covers most or all of the up front costs including hardware and production; the client provides the marketing and promotion, then the earned revenue is shared between the parties. What most museums are not aware of is that Q Media is different; first, we offer this option to organizations that are considered too small by our competitors. The larger audio tour providers cannot offer this valuable service to small to medium sized museums because the return is not considered large enough to cover their overhead. Second, our service is truly shared risk/shared reward. Q Media takes into account large scale disruptions, i.e. hurricanes, that grossly affect your attendance. Last, but certainly not least, Q Media’s productions enhance your visitor’s experience at your museum and add to your ability to tell your story. Our primary talent, focus and purpose is to effectively deliver your message to your visitors.

Let us help you increase your revenue. Seven years ago, Mike and I started Q Media because we were committed to serving our clients and we’re proud to say we’ve succeeded — in good times and bad. Please, give us a call and let’s see what we can do together.

Audio tours in these economic times – By Mike Lutz

An audio tour can help in these economic times.

Fantasy of FlightIn these times many institutions that have the desire to offer an audio tour to their visitors may now have budget shortfalls and face decisions on how to move forward. There are many factors in how and when to spend limited resources and an audio tour may now be considered unattainable, so Q Media wants to offer perspective on why audio tours can help in these times: We believe audio tours can be of assistance as a good way to generate revenue, cut staffing costs, and better the creative offerings of any facility.

1. Audio tours have historically offered revenue enhancement. Many facilities use audio tours to enhance revenue and traditional audio guides have been the easiest way to allow for point of purchase audio tour sales. Some other approaches like re-purposing your tour as a downloadable tour for sale from the internet can also increase revenue.

2. Q Media offers a “no-cost” revenue share option. We understand that the cost of producing and equipping a tour may be considered cost prohibitive but if your facility qualifies Q Media is ready to work in conjunction with you to offer your audio tour as an on-going revenue share.

3. Q Media offers “how to” workshops for organizations that are looking at budget shortfalls and have decided to produce an audio tour in-house. Q Media has worked with organizations who saved money by incorporating in-house personnel for key creative roles and through our workshops we can teach your staff to produce audio tours on-time and on-budget.

4. Audio Tours are a great way to standardize your message. Many times a message can be changed in its repeating. One great advantage audio tours have is that once a tour is produced that message stays consistent every time it is told. Not only are audio guides consistent but since they never “call in sick” they are always at the ready to be of service to generate revenue.

5. Audio tours also have the ability to streamline staffing. In these times many institutions may be considering how to do more with less and downturns in revenue can call for decisions to be made about operational expenditures. An audio tour can allow a facility to continue offering enhanced message delivery while also minimizing staffing needs. This doesn’t necessarily imply staff layoffs—it suggests that less tour staff is needed during higher attendance and savings can be made with fewer part-time or seasonal employees.

6. Audio tours offer a great return on investment over time. In many cases a well produced audio tour is still viable 4-5 years after it is originally installed. Many institutions choose to have audio tours for their permanent exhibits that won’t change much over time and add tours for their temporary or seasonal exhibits. In most cases once the audio tour is operational there is usually very little upkeep cost and this allows for a greater return over time: costs are minimized and profits increased as the tour requires no additional resources to remain operational.

7. Audio tours can be used for advertising and promotional sponsors. Additional revenue or sponsorship dollars can be arranged with donors who want their product or service exposed to your visitors. In the case of museum visitors there are many studies that quantify museum attendees as being from better educated and well-off segments of society. An audio tour can accommodate sponsors or advertising when overt sponsorship is not a consideration for an exhibit but sponsorship dollars are desirable.

Hopefully Q Media has shown that even in these lean economic times an audio tour is still a great value addition to any facility.  Besides increasing revenue they also can provide a wonderful one-on-one experience in delivering your message creatively to your visitors.  Much cheaper to produce and install than a typical exhibit, and able to streamline staffing,  audio tours are a great way to increase revenue and update the offering of your facility without large costs.

Please contact Stasha Boyd at stasha@qmediaproductions.com to find out how Q Media can produce and equip your audio tour.

“Quality content” — Just what the heck does that mean?

I wish I could tell you the number of times I’ve heard some version of “What we want is quality content,” “We’re all about quality content,” or the ever popular “Our visitors deserve/demand/expect quality content.” The way the phrase is bandied about you’d think you’d be able to go to your local “content” store and pick up five packages of the “quality” variety.

Stasha at Quivera National Wildlife Refuge while working on the Barton County Scenic Byway Audio Tour. A "quality content" production if there ever was one.

Stasha at Quivera National Wildlife Refuge while working on the Barton County Scenic Byway Audio Tour. A "quality content" production if there ever was one.

The problem is that semantically the phrase “quality content” is meaningless. It’s a subjective judgement call usually based on the opinion of the person making the statement. It should carry the same weight as someone saying “content I like” or “content I don’t like.” It helps to be more specific. Read the rest of this entry »

Audio tours on cell phones! A great idea… for some.

Audio guides, iPods, cell phones, downloads, internet, multi-media and on and on and on. It seems as if the options for getting a message to your visitors ears are getting wider, more complex, and ever more confusing. But if you’ve clicked on this post you are looking for more information about one of the newest audio tour innovations — cell phones.
The first thing to keep in mind is that the device is only half the equation. Don’t forget about quality content! But we’ll talk about that more in another post.

Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »