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Different Types of Audio ToursEdit

As with everything in life audio tours come in all shapes and sizes: walking tours, driving tours, museum and art gallery tours, to name but a few.
They can be very academic with lots of dates, details and commentary, almost like your own 'Personal Professor'.

They can be light, anecdotal and yet still informative but with an underlying storyline and sound effects which give the sense of atmosphere and presence to the listener.
If the audio guide is designed to teach as well as to inform it must be specially designed to allow the student to proceed at their own pace. It must also allow for the use of corresponding printed material and refer to page numbers.
Whatever type of tour it is – it will always be a tour – not a radio programme. 85% of the skill needed to build a successful audio tour comes from the world of tour guiding – the remaining 15% comes from the radio production world and can add the polish and interest that makes the tour enjoyable as well as informative.

Building an audio tour from scratchEdit

As with any task or piece of creative work remember the five Ps.... Plenty of Planning Prevents Poor Performance
First try to put yourself in your listener’s shoes. How will they be travelling? Will they be on foot, in a vehicle, in a Group, with young children or with seniors? Are there any special factors you need to consider during the initial design of the tour?

Archaeological tours and sitesEdit

Whilst most people are interested in seeing a site of archaeological interest they should be made aware that it was not initially designed as a visitor attraction. This means that stones, walls ditches and masonry represent potential hazards as well as points of interest. Always seek specialist and experienced advice if you will be encouraging visitors onto or into a site of archaeological interest. If you would like help in finding a specialist please feel free to email me at npjrogers@btinternet.com

Driving toursEdit

The design of audio motoring tours demands special attention to the safety aspects and the potential to distract the driver. There is a need to take account of the speed of traffic and the inability to predict exactly where (and if) a driver will be asked to pause the audio tour.
There are a number of useful devices that can be used including making sure that there are adequate spaces between sections of commentary. It can be useful to insert some music and to suggest how many seconds remain until the start of the next section.
Script example:- “…and that concludes this section of your tour. Please pause this tour when it is safe to do so and restart it when you near the town of …… The next section of the tour will commence after 30 seconds. In the meantime we will play a short piece of music.

Time-constrained toursEdit

A time constrained tour is exactly what it says…the time limit may be based upon a closing time for a particular attraction, the availability of public transport or ferry timings for a return journey, the safety of a particular place at a particular time (after dark / when the tide comes in… etc.)
Particular care must be taken in designing a tour that has a ‘time point’ in it. Either a ‘cut-off time point’ by which the listener must be passed a particular point on the tour or have completed the tour. Or an ‘intercept time point’ where the listener should be at a point at a particular time - say either on the Hour or the Half Hour - in order to avoid long waits for transport or to synchronise with another event or tour.
Half the challenge in time constrained tour design is to recognise the issue and to thoroughly research the factors. (Summer and Winter timing differences / weekend or weekday exceptions, etc.) and then to make sure that the details are clearly noted on the printed material, maps or diagrams. For a more durable approach you may wish to refer the listener to a nearby physical information point so that they can read the current timetable or safety notice. You should also state at the beginning of the intro track to the audio guide what the time constraints are and how best to meet them satisfactorily. For example:
“This walking tour takes approximately two hours walking at a steady pace. You should aim to be outside the Castle entrance, which is the halfway point on the tour, one hour after you start out. If you are behind schedule we would suggest that you do not visit the Standing Stones (point 9 on the tour) and go directly to point 10 this will save about 15 minutes. You should aim to be at the Market Square (point 15) by 10 minutes to the hour to be sure of catching the bus back to the tour start point.”

Personal comfort issuesEdit

We traditionally think of clothing, footwear and sun protection as comfort issues. There are a couple of others, that I am sure you can think of, that come under the general heading of ‘Comfort Break’. - and I don’t necessarily mean a little rest on a nearby bench when the legs get tired. Try to ensure that you don’t create a ‘Stop the coach I need to get off’ moment by planning ahead and gently mentioning when facilities are available nearby for those who need to avail of them.

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