Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

General FAQ

Why audio or multimedia?

Ideally, each visitor to your site would be accompanied by a knowledgeable, friendly, personal guide. For most institutions this is neither practical nor within their budgets. An audio or multimedia tour is always available to enhance a visitor’s experience regardless of when the visitor arrives on site or how long the visitor wishes to stay. The messages delivered by an audio or multimedia device are always accurate, informative, and consistent with your institution’s interpretive objectives. One never has to worry about unauthorized or abridged versions of your information being delivered to your visitors.

How do I get started?

Call 1-800-216-0029 or e-mail us at info@tourmate.com to request that a Client Service representative contact you. Our Client Service staff will assist you with defining what you wish to communicate, who you wish to communicate to, and what delivery platform and content creation options are available to you that will meet you budget parameters.

Can I get references who I can speak with?

Absolutely. We will provide you with as many references as you would like. With over 500 clients in North America, we can provide you with client references from institutions with an interpretive mission similar to yours, institutions of similar size, institutions who have switched to Tour-Mate from other interpretive entities, or institutions in your geographic area.

Why Tour-Mate?

There are a number of reasons to choose Tour-Mate. First, we believe that we provide great value. Our attractive pricing coupled with the ‘gold standard’ for service means that you will be well taken care of, both at the beginning of the acquisition process, and for many years into the future. Secondly, we provide a broad range of products and services enabling us to address the interpretive delivery requirements for different types of visitors. Thirdly, we empower our clients, giving them the tools, training and ownership of their tour content. Fourthly, we have the in-house technical expertise to address custom technical requirements that sometimes arise with projects. Lastly, we have been actively involved in the provision of interpretation for over 25 years and have hundreds of satisfied clients.

How long does it take to complete an audio tour?

The correct answer to this is, ‘it depends’. To create a tour from scratch where you would have Tour-Mate’s production team write and produce a tour (with input from your institution’s staff of course) usually takes 3-4 months. Variables that can affect the production timetable include:

  • Number of tours to be created
  • Number of stops for each tour
  • Number of languages for which tours are to be produced
  • Availability of existing materials with which to work (especially for multimedia tours)
  • Number of delivery platforms to be provided and quantities of hardware (if the delivery platform is hardware based)

As a general ‘rule of thumb’ researching and writing the content takes about ½ of the time, and production, equipment shipping, and installation – the other half. As such, if your institution is going to provide its own scripts, the ‘time to installation’ or ‘going live’ can be significantly reduced. If your institution has a tour already written and produced, then ‘going live’ can often be accommodated in a matter of 6-8 weeks.

Can an audio tour system be used if we have docents?

Absolutely. Well trained, knowledgeable, and out-going docents are the ideal. Providing docent led tours to all visitors, regardless of the size of the group and/or the time visitors arrive at your institution may not however, be practical from an operational perspective. If you have a sufficient number of docents to handle all of your visitation, we would encourage you to consider acquiring one of our Group Guide systems. Use of these devices ensures that docents will be clearly heard by all visitors and reduces the potential for docents to suffer from voice strain.

Hardware FAQ

Will one platform meet all of my needs?

One platform may meet most of your interpretive requirements however, if you have large numbers of both independent visitors and visitors arriving in groups, or if your venue encompasses both controlled access and uncontrolled access points, you may want to consider multiple tour delivery platforms. If you have large numbers of both free independent travelers and visitors who arrive in groups, both an individual tour guide system as well as a group guide system may make the most sense for you. Similarly, if your venue encompasses both an area with controlled access and an area that is open, without staffed entrances or exits, you may wish to consider one platform for the controlled access area and one or more platforms for the uncontrolled areas. If your institution lacks sufficient personnel to dispense and/or collect tour guide devices, then perhaps one or more platforms which do not require distribution would best meet your needs.Talk to one of our Client Service representatives. They can help you determine whether a single, or a multi-platform approach would best achieve your interpretive objectives.

How do I choose the right platform(s)?

Once you have determined what your objectives are, our Client Service staff can assist you with the development of a plan to achieve these objectives within your budgetary parameters.

What about visitors with special needs?

A number of our platforms have been designed to accommodate visitors with special needs. From our Listening Wand’s ‘taking keypad’, to our multi-wheeled Eco-Box (designed for individuals with little or no grasping strength), to multimedia platforms that can accommodate scrolling text and American Sign Language, we probably have one or more platforms which will help you address your accessibility concerns.

I want to add interpretation about outdoor locations which are in open, uncontrolled areas. What types of interpretive platforms should I consider?

We offer a number of platforms which you should consider. Our Eco-Box line of products is usually ideal for these situations. They work on ‘people power’. As such you will not need any ‘mains’ power to operate them.If you have good network coverage you may want to consider either our smartphone platform.

I am thinking of implementing a smartphone tour. Do I need to have WiFi throughout my facility? If so, is this something that you will install for me?

Unless your tour is entirely embedded in your app (no links to YouTube, etc.) and your visitors have pre-loaded the tour onto their smartphones prior to visiting your institution, you will need to have either cellular coverage (3G or 4G) or WiFi. The presence of WiFi enables your visitors to access your smartphone tour without using the cellular phone system thus avoiding any data usage charges. If you have WiFi throughout your facility, then your visitors will be able to stream content to their phones on demand. If you have limited WiFi coverage then your visitors will either have to download the entire tour in an area of WiFi coverage (which could be time consuming), or they will have to access your tour via the cellular networks (assuming you have good cell coverage).We do not design or install WiFi networks. In most locales, there are usually a number of companies that can undertake this for you.

What platforms do you recommend if I want to add interpretation indoors and outdoors?

All of our platforms will work in both indoor and outdoor locations. Platforms which require dispensing usually work best and are the easiest to manage operationally, in locations where access is controlled i.e. a specific entrance or entrances as well as exits which are staffed. For uncontrolled venues, we recommend our ‘fixed mounted’ Eco-Box and Solar Post line of products as well as our Tour-Mate App platform for smartphones. Tour-Mate App platforms will only work where there is access to a cellular signal and/or the internet.

What platform do you recommend for indoor use only?

If audio only is your preferred route, our hand held SC550, Listening Wand system has proven itself in hundreds of venues. If in addition to audio, you wish to display text, visuals and/or video clips, our new TourMedia system will allow you to provide multi-media content to your visitors in a compact yet rugged platform. If you are looking specifically for a group guide system, then we recommend the TM-200 and TM-600 systems for reliability and ruggedness. To make sure that the platform or platforms that you select will help you fulfill your objectives, talk to a Tour-Mate Client Service representative.

Content Creation FAQ

Who creates the content?

It is entirely up to you. You can create and produce your content yourself, or with a third party, or you can contract with Tour-Mate to create all, or some of your content.

Who owns the content?

Our philosophy toward content is that it should be owned by the client exclusively. This means that should you contract with Tour-Mate to create your content, it will be treated as a ‘work for hire’. Once we have received full payment for any content that we have created, those copyrights which would attach to Tour-Mate, transfer to the client. If the cost of creating your content has been built into a lease or revenue share arrangement with Tour-Mate, ownership of your content will vest at the completion of the initial term of the agreement.

Do I have to use Tour-Mate to create content?

Absolutely not! While we welcome the opportunity to work with you and your colleagues to create captivating content, we do not obligate our clients to use us for creation of their tours.

Can we have a celebrity narrator?

You can have a celebrity narrator but talent fees for a celebrity will be greater than for a professional narrator whose voice is not well recognized. If you feel that the inclusion of a celebrity will increase your tour’s uptake amongst visitors, add to the tour’s credibility, or generate significant positive publicity for your institution, then you may feel that the extra costs associated with contracting with a celebrity narrator are justified.

Can we have foreign languages on the same program?

Yes you can have a multilingual program.

Can we include our own experts, staff members and/or Board members as narrators?

Yes you can and this is often something that is worth considering for inclusion into your tour(s), as comments from those intimately associated with your institution will often add to the perceived credibility of your content.

How do we choose a narrator?

If you decide to work with Tour-Mate to create your content, our producers will work with your team to determine the tone, or mood, that you are trying to set with your tour(s). They will then develop a shortlist of potential narrators for you to consider; narrators whose voices they feel will assist in achieving the tour’s goals. While our producers will make narrator suggestions, the ultimate decision will rest with you and your team. After all, it is your tour.

What about music and sound effects?

Music and sound effects can greatly enhance the impact of a tour. They can assist in fostering a mood, or conjuring up a period in history. As with narrators, our producers will work with your team to select music and sound effects that enhance the narration and increase the impact of the narrative.

Can I change my content after we receive the system?

Absolutely. We make the necessary edit software available to our clients. No matter what platform, or platforms are selected for tour delivery, clients can easily change and/or update tour content. Consistent with our approach to content creation in general, you may wish to include us in modifying your tour(s) or you may wish to undertake tour changes internally or via a third party.

What are my options for content creation? How much can Tour-Mate help me?

YOUR TOUR. YOUR CHOICE! We can help a little, a lot, or not at all. If you have talented people on staff who can write and/or produce content, then you may not wish to involve Tour-Mate in Content Creation. If you have the ability to write your tour, you may only want to contract with us for production services. If you lack the writing and/or production resources internally, you may want us to create your content from ‘soup to nuts’. This is your tour. You decide how much, or how little you want us to be involved.

How long does it take for content to be complete?

Creating memorable content takes time. Our approach to creating content leans toward collaboration. We actively seek to have creative input from those connected to the attraction. While this tends to result in longer production timelines, the inclusion of people committed to the process results in a greater commitment to the end product. No two attractions’ requirements will be exactly the same. If we are selected by you to create your content, we will develop a content creation timeline that fits within your time frame parameters and ensures that your tour(s) will ‘go live’ exactly as scheduled.

Service FAQ

Must I enroll in an extended service and maintenance program?

No. Beyond the warranty provided for our hardware platforms, an extended service and maintenance program, while recommended, is optional. If your institution does not elect to enroll in one of our service and maintenance programs, we will automatically enroll you in our ‘as needed’ service program. Service would then be provided upon request, at our prevailing service rates.

How long can I count on service for my system?

As a matter of policy, those institutions which enroll in our extended service and maintenance programs are guaranteed that we will maintenance their hardware on a ‘fit, form, and function’ basis for at least 5 years. For most systems, you should be able to count on Tour-Mate providing service for your equipment well beyond the 5 year mark. Even when we discontinue a product, we make sure to inventory a quantity of spare parts to enabling us to repair equipment well into the future. Currently, we have many systems still in operation in excess of 10 years after installation.

What is the turnaround time for hardware repairs?

Standard turn around time for equipment which is shipped to one of our repair depots is five (5) business days (from receipt of the malfunctioning equipment until return shipment). Please note that the actual length of time that you will be without equipment which has been returned for service and/or repair will also depend upon the shipping service which you choose. Ground service can take up to 5 days in each direction (inbound and outbound). Express service, while more expensive, results in less ‘down time’.

How will you make sure that equipment requiring service does not negatively impact our ability to provide a tour guide to our visitors?

As with most relationships, the key is effective communications. If your visitation is seasonal and heavily skewed to specific times during the year, let us know and we will develop a plan of action to account for this. If your tour is for a ‘time limited’, temporary exhibition, we can create a factory ‘buffer stock’ for you where we would ‘swap out’ any malfunctioning equipment upon receipt, at one of our repair depots. For systems where part of the service and maintenance involves sending technicians to your site, let us know which times of the year, days of the week, and/or time of day will represent the least operational inconvenience, and we will schedule your on-site service accordingly.

Finance FAQ

What are my platform acquisition options?

For hardware based platforms, we offer equipment on an outright purchase, self-liquidating or term lease, rental, or revenue share arrangement (universal or voluntary distribution). We can also tailor a hybrid solution that meets your specific requirements e.g. seasonal variations to equipment requirements, high season/low season payment rates that more closely mirror your revenue inflows, etc. For interpretive systems where there is no hardware provided i.e. cellular and smartphone systems, fees are based upon term length, system usage, and/or services required.

What if we need additional equipment but only for specific, short periods within each year?

We can build in the provision of variable amounts of equipment for a lease, rental, or revenue share arrangement. For hardware purchases, you can opt for temporary equipment rentals to reach seasonal, or peak visitation requirements.

Can I pay by credit card?

Mastercard and Visa accepted. A fee to cover additional administrative work may apply.

If I choose to rent or lease a system, can I convert this into a purchase? Will I forfeit all monies already paid as lease or rental fees?

You can always convert a rental or a lease into a purchase. For rentals which are converted into a purchase, we will credit a portion of the rental fees which have been paid toward the system purchase price. Buy-outs of leases will depend upon the length of time left in the lease and what has been included into the lease agreement e.g. content, hardware, etc.

How much will service cost? Can I ‘lock in’ my future service costs?

Service rates vary by platform. Discounts are available for multi-year service agreements which are paid in advance. If pre-payment is not an option, you can lock in your annual service rate for an annual non-cancelable fee. Speak to a Client Service representative about the service options available to you.

Universal distribution or voluntary distribution – which makes the most sense for us?

Each institution operates with different constraints. Your Client Service representative can assist you in determining whether a universal or voluntary distribution approach would be best for you.

What is the minimum length of time for which I can rent or lease a system?

There is no minimum. We have rented systems for as little as a few hours. Each rental is customized to address the specific requirements of the client.