I was cleaning out my bookmarks today and ran across this article “Lincoln Home adds electronic connections to history buffs.” I’m glad the curious headline didn’t stop me from reading further!
Springfield is offering self-guided cell phone tours.
According to the article, the town of Springfield, Illinois, US, has dramatically increased the amount of time visitors stick around, by offering self-guided cell phone tours of all the President Abraham Lincoln sites in their town.
People can stop at any site, dial the number and get info about the site, at any time of day or night, on any day of the week. According to the article, it has increased the average stay in town from 45 minutes to about 4 hours! That’s getting close to the critical number that turns a day-trip into an overnight stay.
Would cell phone tours work for your town?
If your town has decent cell service, and you have a historic downtown with an interesting story, or a river walk, or a waterfall hike, or a driving tour, or a little museum with great stories behind your collection, this technology could help you increase visits to your rural tourism town and keep visitors longer.
Cultural and heritage tourism are huge draws, but both require interpretation to be successful. Interpretive displays cost big money to create and maintain and keep open. So most rural tourism communities have a hard time properly sharing their rich history and culture with visitors.
Cell phone tours are a low cost interpretive alternative.
If you google cell phone tours, two companies are listed on page 1. For as little as $50 a month, you can create an audio tour with multiple stops, upload it to their system and even get visitor statistics and feedback.
Recording equipment is cheap and easy to come by – many computers have recording capability. And small towns are often loaded with great storytellers willing to talk about what they love about their town. Be sure to include good directions to the next stop on the tour – that was the only complaint I found of existing cell phone tours.
Are you currently using cell phone tours or special smartphone apps for interpretation, let us know how.