By Lin Parkin
June 26, 2014
According to the UN World Tourism Organization, one billion people traveled internationally in 2013. 54% of those were leisure travelers, of which 60% traveled to monuments and other tourist destinations.
Whether travelling internationally or domestically, travellers are inclined to tour sites that have key historical, cultural, religious or technological significance.
Travel books used to be the way to get around foreign cities or at tourist destinations but carrying a book around with you everywhere you go is not the best way to enjoy a hard-earned vacation. You may miss the attraction while trying to read about it or forget to bring your travel book with you.
Audioguides are one of the best ways to take it all in. They help the tourist learn about the key points, history or trivia associated with it.
Learn more about where audioguides are used and how they enhance tours in today's VOX Daily.
With audioguides, or "audio tours," all you need to do is download the guide to your smart phone or iPod, put on a set of headphones and a narrator guides your way.
Depending on the type of tour you can often download the guide from the internet before you go on your trip. Many destinations also have their own handheld devices available. You simply rent the unit and give it back at the end of the tour.
They're available for museums, monuments, university campuses, boat tours, bus tours, and art galleries. Some will even show you around town. They are everywhere. And, no matter where you're touring, an audioguide is likely available in your language too.
Most are offered in at least 5-9 languages, often including English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish.
This is particularly helpful while visiting foreign museums or monuments where the labels or descriptive plaques are not in your language. You just pick up a set of headphones, usually at a station post, and learn about the significance of the piece.
Some destinations use celebrity voices to provide the audioguide narration, such as Westminster Abbey who commissioned Jeremy Irons, a British actor, to do much of the narration. For some tourists that may enhance the experience but for others it can be rather distracting. The fact that some tourist destinations use celebrity voices suggests that there's a demand for pleasant, authoritative, and familiar sounding voices.
While it's not necessary to shell out the big bucks for a celebrity voice, hiring a professional narrator to read the guide's content can have a huge impact on the experience.
Audioguide creators are moving toward less robotic or lecture-like scripts, which were often factual snippets of information gleaned from encyclopedias or, these days, Wikipedia. No longer does the public have to trudge through an audioguide with the narrator droning out the information.
Now many audioguide creators, such as acoustiguide.com, audioconexus.com, and many others, are moving toward more conversational tour guides, both in tone of script and tone of voice, by blending educational content with entertainment value.
By having a more engaging audioguide the tourist is more likely to enjoy their overall visit and be able to fully appreciate the cultural significance of what they're seeing.
Have audioguides enhanced your experience while travelling or visiting a tourist destination?
Share your experiences in the comments below.
All the best,
© iStockphoto.com/AllianceRelated Topics: Audio Tours, Audioguides, Jeremy Irons, Narration, Tourism, Travel, Westminster Abbey