13 reasons your museum should switch to Detour Platform in 2017

Andrew Mason
Jan 9, 2017 · 7 min read

If you’re a museum or cultural institution looking for the best way to create and distribute an audio tour, there’s never been a better time to switch to Detour Platform. Here are thirteen reasons why.

#1: Create any location-aware audio experience you can imagine.

Detour is powered by an audio engine with the flexibility and power you find in video games. Create tours that guide you along a fixed path, tours based on hotspots that trigger nonlinearly — even “choose your own adventure” branching experiences. Voice and music are mixed in real-time in the app, so you can maintain an immersive experience while matching the visitor’s pace.

Detour is also the best solution for the type of random access audio content you find in most museums today. Our indoor positioning tech automatically detects nearby art, making discovery effortless. Don’t have indoor positioning? No problem, just type in the artwork’s name or number.

Detour is designed to minimize the amount of time you need to stare at your phone, so you can keep it in your pocket and keep your eyes on the art. We like to say that the phone should be treated like a pack of mints, not a bag of Cheetos.

#2: Group audio sync: social changes the game.

Audio tours have a reputation for being socially isolating. You always have to choose: do I take the audio tour and learn something, or do I skip it and enjoy my company?

No more with Detour. Sync with friends to hear the same thing at the same time — it feels like you’re walking with a trusted guide. If one person pauses, it pauses for everyone. And any time you want to break off and explore, it’s easy to turn off group sync.

#3: Game-changing production tools

Ask people what their favorite audio tour is, and the answer you’ll hear most often is Alcatraz — a tour that’s over thirty five years old, that was originally designed for the Sony Walkman. Our takeaway: Location-aware playback, group sync, and other high tech bells and whistles… they’re great, but they don’t mean a thing without great content.

That’s why we’ve invested as much energy on improving tour making as we have on improving tour taking.

This is Descript, our Mac App for scripting, mapping, audio production, collaboration, and testing — everything you need, soup to nuts, in one app.

There’s too much in Descript to do justice to it here, but here are the highlights:

  • The world’s first audio word processor — edit audio by editing text.
  • Inline sound design — drop music (and images) in the script where you want them to play.
  • Automatic transcript generation (with audio synced to the transcript, of course) with 95% accuracy.
  • Link script to a walking path for content pacing recommendations.
  • Decentral: Our integrated cloud version control & collaboration system.

With Descript, it’s never been easier to create, maintain, and publish content — even if you don’t have an audio production background.

#4: Turn by turn navigation (indoor and outdoor)

Large museums can be overwhelming, leaving visitors so drained by finding their way around that there’s little energy remaining for the art.

Detour makes navigation effortless with turn by turn guidance, both inside and outside.

#5: Give every visitor a shareable timeline of their visit.

Each visitor gets a timeline of their visit, combining their photos with more details on what they listened to. Timelines are great for sharing, or simply recalling the details of your visit months or years later.

#6 Painless tour content management

Detour makes deploying and managing rental devices and updating tour content effortless.

  • Audio is streamed to devices — no huge upfront download required. We handle multi-gigabyte tours with ease.
  • When you publish updates to your tour, the incremental changes are pushed over the cloud — no need to schedule downtime.
  • Make a mistake? Easily roll back to an old version of your tour using Descript’s version control system.
  • Have a fleet of rental devices? Enable rental mode to pre-download content, also allowing for offline use.

#7: Award-winning and flexible user experience

We’ve been refining Detour for over three years, and the result is a user experience that’s battled-tested to be intuitive for visitors of all ages, with the flexibility to handle museums of all types — that’s one of the reasons Apple named Detour one of its 10 best apps of 2016.

Detour is designed to adapt to each museum’s unique layout, size, type of art, visitor demographic, back office systems, WiFi infrastructure, etc. Whether your museum is in six floor building or a single room, whether you have one tour or thousands of pieces of standalone audio that need to work in multiple languages, we’ve got you covered. Audio is our bread and butter, but Detour also supports text/image/video listings. Our CMS system lets you organize content however you want, and integrate with your own or 3rd party services like ticketing or membership cards.

#8: Already have an app? No problem.

Detour has everything you need for a complete visitor experience. But if you already have an app, no problem — using attributed deeplinking tech we built as part of our new Airbnb partnership, we can seamlessly integrate Detour as the audio tour component of your existing app. See how it works with Airbnb below.

#9: Channel our world-class technology team

If you’ve ever built your own app, then you know that the day it ships is the beginning, not the end. Between usability improvements, bug fixes, version control, iOS/Android parity, you’re more likely to find yourself ripping out broken features than building the new ones you always wanted.

Creating great apps is expensive and time consuming — that’s why there are so few of them, especially in the museum space. Services like Medium have gained wide adoption by creating best-in-class content creation and consumption tools that are universal while allowing the publisher’s brand to shine through. That’s exactly what we’re doing with the Detour Platform.

Detour’s San Francisco-based product team has designed, built, and scaled massive technology companies — and by choosing Detour Platform, all of our know-how will be channeled into constantly improving your app.

Your museum is great at a lot of things, but building apps shouldn’t be of them. Leave it to us!

#10: Increase take-up rate while reducing the cost of rental hardware and staffing.

At SFMOMA (a Detour Platform customer), over 50% of audio tour takers are doing so on their own devices, not the museum-provided iPods, which is dramatically above industry standards or their own expectations, while simultaneously seeing take-up rates over 2x greater than before they used Detour. By eliminating the time and money required to maintain a fleet of rental devices (not to mention the visitor indignity of the clunky cases, lanyards, and headphones), SFMOMA has more time and money to invest in what matters: Great content and making visitors happy. The savings here alone will likely offset switching to Detour.

With tours launching in nearly 15 new markets this May and partners like Airbnb, Detour is the only touring platform out there with rapidly growing distribution and consumer adoption. That means a substantial portion of your visitors will arrive with Detour already on their phones, bringing take-up rate to previously unimaginable heights.

#11: Rapid prototyping

Descript automatically creates scratch audio using synthesized speech as you type. Push new versions of your tour the Detour app with a single click, so you can start testing and getting feedback immediately.

Testers can leave text, audio, or photo comments as they walk. Comments appear in real-time in Descript, inline with the script as well as on the map at the user’s location.

#12: Detailed Analytics

With the analytics provided by Detour, you‘ll know the answer to questions like: How many people listen each day? How long do they listen, and what’s the distribution? Are they on Android or iPhone? What make/model? What’s the most popular content? For a specific piece of content, what are the points where people stop listening? Are they skipping parts? What percent of visitors use group sync? What’s the average size of a group? Do users behave differently when they’re in a group? How do people move through the museum? What’s the distribution of usage by translation? Do people come back and listen to more? And a lot more.

#13: You don’t need a master plan to get started

You don’t need your own app, you don’t need a plan for the entire museum, you don’t need to talk to a sales person — you just need an idea for a single tour. From the moment you download Descript, you can have a synthesized speech version of your tour running in the Detour app in 15 minutes.

What are you waiting for? Join the Detour Platform beta.

Detour Blog

Detour is a platform for location-based audio experiences…

Andrew Mason

Written by

Descript, formerly Detour, Groupon

Detour Blog

Detour is a platform for location-based audio experiences, available in the iOS App Store and coming to Android in June. We make our own premium outdoor tours in San Francisco, New York, and other cities. We also provide tools that let anyone create their own tours.

Andrew Mason

Written by

Descript, formerly Detour, Groupon

Detour Blog

Detour is a platform for location-based audio experiences, available in the iOS App Store and coming to Android in June. We make our own premium outdoor tours in San Francisco, New York, and other cities. We also provide tools that let anyone create their own tours.

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