An App for a Tour Guide

I found an interesting review of a phone app by a company called “Stray Boots”:

An app as a tour guide?  Well, maybe… if you don’t have the budget to hire a private guide, or if there’s no guide to be had, it can be a good way to go. It sounds like they do a proper job of making the tours fun and interactive, so that’s a plus. Whatever helps people to be more engaged when they travel, is positive.

And I’ve been on tours here and there where the guide is scripted, poor thing.  He or she has to say the same speech in the same way, all day long, and you can really tell.  They may as well just be an app, at that point, because they are held hostage by the pace of the tour and the company that has told them precisely what to do and when, even the funny jokes and aside remarks.

But what a difference a real person makes when they know what they are talking about and are given the freedom to express themselves. Without a script, guests on the tour hear stories and thoughts and information from the guide in a meaningful and fun way. And an app just can’t handle the seemingly random questions that pop up in a traveler’s head along the way…

What’s the name of this flower?  Why are there ladders on the rooftops of all the houses here?  Do Norwegians really go outside in the winter without their coats?  Is it dark at midnight, even when the midnight sun is out?

And when people get answers and stories and trivia, they get more than just a lively conversation. They get a lasting, personal connection to the place they are visiting, and from my perspective as both giver and receiver, that’s a rare gift in this world.

So if you’re coming to Alta to visit the museum or the canyon, put down the phone, take off those headphones, and come find me instead. I promise I’ll be more interesting!


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