Tours have long been a popular form of tourism, with many tourists choosing to be guided around a new place whilst soaking up the knowledge, stories and expertise of their leader, whether this be in person or in audio format. However with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the latter could play an increasingly important role.
Audio tour app company TravelStorysGPS builds on this concept by creating high quality audio tours, and they have recently teamed up with Adventure Travel Trade Association to create a new project to take this idea even further.
1. What is TravelStorysGPS?
Founded by Story Clark, a well-known land conservationist, TravelStorysGPS aims to use the power of stories and tours to form a stronger bond between people and places, in order to encourage them to conserve those places for future generations. Their audio tours, delivered via the app for free, feature local voices describing aspects such as the history, wildlife and culture of a place, in an effort to bring places to life and encourage the listener to really engage on a deeper level. The tours can be listened to online or downloaded, to be played as the listener walks, runs, cycles or paddles around the area, or even from their own home, as they are marketed to, ‘Travelers and Virtual Travelers’ alike.
Did you know you can listen to all of our audio tours remotely?! Download the app and find you favorite stories, no matter where you are! pic.twitter.com/qVm7MM9DeV— TravelStorysGPS (@TravelStorysGPS) December 15, 2017
The tours can be custom built by guides to create tours of anywhere they like, with varying themes and scenarios such as:
- Historic city or village walking/biking/scooter tours
- Interpretive hiking trail or biking tours
- Regional driving tours
- City driving tours
- Photography tours
- Kayaking/rafting lake/river tours
- Gastronomy tour
- Drinks tour
- Art tour
2. An exciting new collaboration
In April 2020, TravelStorysGPS joined with Adventure Travel Trade Association, the largest global network of adventure travel leaders, to create a new project. The idea behind the initiative is to create audio tours that combine the wisdom of the adventure community together with the increasing podcasts and self-guided tours audience. The tours will be available for download, with prices ranging from $2.99 to $12.99, and guides will earn money each time their tour is downloaded.
As part of this, three experienced ATTA guides have begun the TravelStorysGPS training program to develop tours of their own. Christopher Joe of Birds and Nature Tours in Newbern, Alabama, Tony Bauer, Independent Guide, Austin Texas and John Baston of Roadrunner Expeditions, based in Sonoma, California, have all nearly completed a training course, during which they have learned how to adapt their guiding expertise to make it most effective in audio format. This involved learning the following skills:
- Tour planning
- Script writing
- Narration/recording and editing techniques
- Mapping/geotag placement
- Directional geotag triggering
- Image/text uploading
- Tour publishing
- Tour marketing & promotion techniques
3. Travel during and post pandemic
At a time where the travel industry is severely disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, self-guiding audio tours pose an interesting alternative to more traditional tours which, due to social distancing, are not always possible, or easy at the moment. Additionally, while international travel is limited, these tours appeal to domestic tourists, locals and expats wishing to know more about their surroundings, (or specialised information such as nature or gastronomy), as well as to people stuck at home, travelling virtually.
Road trips are also currently being encouraged, as these limit exposure compared to public transport, and audio stories and guides provide the perfect companion to these. With the pandemic still limiting the majority of travel, and sure to change travel in the future, audio tours and stories from locals and guides with specialist knowledge could provide a great opportunity for tourism.