Our Next Chapter
Video by Brooklyn’s Smartypants Pictures, directed by Joshua Seftel
Since our launch nine months ago, Detour has released 18 walks in the Bay Area. We’ve made Detours about history, culture, social issues, urban development, art, architecture, current events, food, and even a fictional Detour. We have Detours narrated by journalists, activist heroes, and one by a local fisherman. We have Detours located in the middle of the city, and Detours in aggressively inconvenient locations, like Albany Bulb and a superfund site in The Bayview.
With such eclectic options, you might be asking yourself, “who is Detour making these for, exactly?” So far, the answer has been, “ourselves.” It’s hard to make great Detours. So by making a lot of them, and a variety of them, and doing it in our backyard, we’ve been able to learn quickly and experiment wildly, all while making some wonderful-for-their-financial-untenability experiences along the way.
But as much fun as it is to make Detours at home, we know that our real customers are travelers. My wife and I recently visited St. Petersburg for the first time, and despite our best effort to employ the coolest guidebooks, apps, and even guided tours, we never really felt like we got below the surface. We had no trouble finding cool restaurants, shops, and sights, but I never really felt connected — like I understood what it was like to live there. The kind of thing that Detour does magnificently. I returned to Detour HQ anxious to bring Detour to more cities, and make it an essential companion to any place you visit.
Today, we’re releasing Detour 2.0. It represents the end of our first chapter, which was focused on learning the medium, and the beginning of our next chapter, which is focused on making Detour the ultimate experiential travel companion.
21st Century Experiential City Guide
Detour’s mission is to help people connect to places. We believe that to pull that off, there’s only so much we can tell you — we have to take you to the streets and show you.
Instead of launching new walks each month and selling them individually, we’re launching cities as fully realized sets of Detours, with each walk revealing an important aspect of the city’s identity. Think of a multi-part documentary that isn’t just about a place, it’s in the place.
Detour San Francisco is our first release. It includes 10 walks, each carefully chosen to reveal a piece of what makes San Francisco one of the most interesting and important cities in the world. On these walks, you’ll see the spots that make San Francisco famous, while hearing stories and meeting people that reveal the real soul of the city.
You’ll relive the Summer of Love in Haight-Ashbury with one of the hippies that got the revolution rolling. You’ll walk through the Castro’s history with one of the men at its center, who will take you down the street where he and his bullhorn helped spark a worldwide revolution. You’ll ride a cable car through the home of the Beat Generation while Lawrence Ferlinghetti reads you poetry. You’ll go to the original home of the Jonestown Cult, with one of the few members to survive the Kool-Aid fueled mass suicide. You’ll have a drink with a drag queen in the Tenderloin’s last gay bar, as she shows you San Francisco’s most confounding neighborhood. That’s just a glimpse of what Detour has in store.
With over a dozen hours of discovery, Detour will show you a San Francisco that even natives rarely see. And at $24.99, it’s less expensive than many walking tours.
While we have a few Detours available in NYC, Austin, London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, and Marrakesh, we aren’t quite ready to launch guides in those cities. Until then, we’re making our existing Detours in those available as a free preview.
More than half of Detours are taken in groups. It’s been one of our most popular features, because it transforms audio tours from an isolating experience into an inclusive one.
Previously, to use group sync, each user needed to purchase a Detour. Now we’re including it with the purchase of a city — up to four people can sync at no additional cost.
We’ve learned a lot from the thousands of people who have taken Detours so far, and incorporated their feedback into a beautiful and easy to use new design.
Perhaps the most significant change is one that’s currently unnoticeable — we’ve rewritten our touring engine. Our new engine can handle Detours that play different content and follow different paths depending on things like business operating hours or the weather. It handles non-linear Detours where the listener doesn’t have to follow a fixed path. It allows for listeners to answer questions by pressing buttons on the screen to create “Choose Your Own Adventure” style experiences. We’re excited to see what our producers build with this added flexibility.
Along the Way
We’ve added one of our most requested features: recommended restaurants, shops, and sights along the route of each Detour. This makes it easier to make Detour the center of a wider exploration of a place.
Android support is our most requested “feature,” and we’re just about to get started. Expect an Android app in early 2016. Sign up here to get notified when it launches.
Our long-term strategy is to let anyone create, distribute, and sell Detours on our platform. We’re continuing to work on building creation tools that make the process simple, and expect to
When we started Detour, our goal was to help people crack the surface of places and form a real connection. The whole team has worked incredibly hard to achieve this goal, and we’re really proud of what we’ve built. We look forward to hearing what you think!
Originally published at blog.detour.com on November 23, 2015.