Ulrich Berger CEO Guiding Group

The smart way to enhance tour guiding

With the unstoppable advance of the smartphone towards ubiquity, it is just a matter of time before it assimilates and replaces conventional tour guide systems, just as it has done with other devices before.
One can expect that smartphone-based solutions, as compared to conventional whisper systems, will be up to 50% less expensive, create additional revenue opportunities, simplify logistics, and improve quality, service, and safety on shore excursions. While this change is arguably inevitable to come, until recently there were no full-fledged solutions on the market. Luxury ocean cruise line Regent Seven Seas Cruises is one of the first to embrace this unique solution for tours in many of the destinations it sails. Regent says the technology, developed by Guiding-Group, exceeds expectations and eliminates trouble-prone hardware of conventional systems.

The changeover is a logical step for Regent, which, for more than 28 years, has made it its mission to deliver unrivalled experiences to its luxury travellers. Anticipating their desires, Regent crafts every detail to help achieve this goal. With
its twenty-year history of innovation in the field of audio guides and tour guide systems, Guiding-Group has proven to be the ideal supplier of exceptional solutions that helped enhance RSSC’s off-ship excursions.
We talked to the director and CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises Jason Montague, and Guiding-Group CEO – and inventor of the ‘itour SmartGuide’ –Ulrich Berger (pictured).

A tour guide system that streams the guide’s voice directly on the guests’ own smartphone?
How does that work?
Ulrich: For now, the guests have to install a receiver application on their smartphones and click the number of their tour group. The app will establish automatically a connection to the guide’s transmitter.
An alternative would be to integrate the receiver function into the app of the cruise line, so that an additional download is no longer necessary.

How does the data transfer work? Are costs incurred for the guest, for example for mobile data?
Ulrich: The audio stream is received via the WiFi antenna of the smartphone, but there is no connection to the internet at any time, no mobile data is used and no costs are incurred.

What was decisive for Regent Seven Seas Cruises to switch from conventional systems to the neWe w itour SmartGuide?
Jason: believe that luxury travel is ultimately defined by the details that create each moment.
The itour SmartGuide is an example of one such technology that helps us create an extraordinary guest experience in a destination.

What do your guests and guides say about the new system?
Jason: The feedback is enthusiastic. Our guests enjoy using the technology because it allows them to better engage with our tour guides and helps them appreciate the great storytellers even more. It helps our guests to fully immerse themselves into the destinations. Tour guides find the transmitter easy to use and reliable.

What further developments of the itour SmartGuide can be expected?
Ulrich: Currently we are working on a variety of add-ons and alternative deployment options. A major advance is the technical realization of multilingual tours, which compensates for the local lack of guides in certain languages. Location tracking will make it possible to determine guides’ and guests’ positions at any time, thus enhancing safety.
We believe that with the smartphone as carrier technology, completely new creative and business opportunities for guided tours will emerge. We aim to play a leading role in promoting this trend.