With tour apps gaining in popularity, the questions have been asked: What are the benefits of guided vs. self-guided tours? Can they be used for factory tours? While tour apps are getting more complex and even intuitive with GPS location, the biggest answer is simply this…

Apps are designed for tourists. Your tour attendees are not tourists.

Apps may work fine for vacationers walking down the streets of San Francisco. Or even when wandering around some other museum or tourist attraction. But when it comes to factory, industrial, college campus, or other facility tours, they’re useless. And as we’ll see, an app guided tour may create liabilities for you. Only a staff-led, guided tour ensures your message is heard and understood. Your tours are designed to provide highly specific, visitor audience-oriented information, most of which is confidential.

The Key to a Successful Factory Tour

In a word: interaction.

Every tour is unique and much of its uniqueness stems from the tour attendees’ characteristics. Even tours that are intended for one distinctive purpose will have differences and variations when the tour is conducted. A well-informed, well-trained tour guide has one major advantage that can’t be built into an app. An expert guide can think on his or her feet. Factory professional guides handle the attendees’ questions about product, process, and financial information with ease and completeness.

Sometimes, interaction comes in the form of anecdotes or personal stories. A human tour guide can sense the “personality” of a tour group and adjust accordingly. Additionally, a tour guide can provide timely, up-to-date information. In many factories and other industrial facilities, changes happen quickly, and often, frequently. By briefing your tour guides before the tour, you help keep them current. “Updates” are made whenever necessary. This is a key difference between guided vs self-guided tours.

Keep the Environment in Mind During a Tour

Some tours visit everything from the boardroom to the shop floor. Many tours, however, are held within a specific environment. One major consideration is noise level, measured in decibels. Most attendees are not aware of how important it is to protect themselves from hearing loss or damage in a factory. A carefully planned tour manages this for them. Protecting your attendees’ hearing while still maintaining clear communication with them is accomplished with wireless tour communication equipment.

The headset and headphone options you choose are critical. The noise levels for factory tours, for example, may range from light or moderate noise, clear up to high or even maximum decibel levels.

Selecting the proper headset/headphone combination also facilitates that first key to a successful tour mentioned earlier: interaction. You can choose two-way communication for a totally interactive session between visitors and your staff.

Or, by choosing to equip your guide with a headset with attached microphone, and having a wireless hand mic for attendees questions, you keep control of the tour. Your attendees still get their questions answered. But the tour proceeds with minimal distraction with your guides on track and on time.

In noisy environments, wireless headsets and headphones protect your tour attendees’ hearing. That’s one more way your concern for participants is shown. All an app will warn you about is the volume setting on the device.

Guided Audio Tours Break Language Barriers

Here’s an additional benefit for a human-guided factory tour. When using wireless communication equipment, it’s possible to conduct simultaneous tours in the same area. Add to that the ability of each tour being presented in the attendees’ native tongue and the possibilities are apparent.

For instance, two separate tours, one in English and one in Spanish, can coexist in the same area without interference. Even so, some attendees may be multi-lingual, but prefer to hear information in their native language. By using an interpreter along with an English-speaking guide, all attendees participate in the same tour, but are spoken to in their language of choice.

Some apps provide several languages; but not at the same time. Plus, your information is audience specific, not targeted to the general public.

Finally, Your Attendees’ Safety is Vital

Factory or plant tours carefully planned and are inherently safe by design. You never want to put your attendees at risk. However, tour attendees don’t always understand the signage and markings provided. This may be their first visit to your facility.

And on more than one occasion, a participant became so engrossed or overwhelmed in a process as to lose track of their surroundings. A human-led tour keeps participants safe because the tour guide and tour assistants monitor both the attendees and everything in the vicinity. They keep accidents from happening. Tour apps are hopelessly unaware of your surroundings.

Guided Vs. Self-Guided Tours? No Contest

A self-guided tour may be fine for tourists wandering aimlessly about town. They can use them for general entertainment and local information. But your factory tour attendees have an agenda… and so do you. You have a very targeted and distinct message to convey, whether they’re customers, investors, or potential partners.

Make sure your tour delivers your message and comes across loud and clear — and safely — by using an employee-led tour with the correct comfortable and effective wireless communication equipment. Every time.

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