October 28, 2013
Imagine walking through the streets of Manhattan, being guided by the voice of Keith Richards, and all the while being shown pictures he’s taken of his favorite haunts or hearing his stories about key moments in The Rolling Stones’ history. This cannot happen right now (unless you are a friend of Mr. Richards), but it may be possible in the future. Touritz, a startup based in Covington, Kentucky (across the river from Cincinnati), is seeking to do for local tours what Instagram did for personalize photojournalism.
When one hears “walking tour,” the image of cheap headphones and an audio player come to mind. Or worse, the image of some underpaid or underappreciated volunteer herding blurry-eyed, slouched-shouldered tourists around some obscure plaque or building, pushing out the same talking points they have already given ten times that day and will do ten more times tomorrow. This is hardly a market keen to the eye of startup founders.
So the question is, how do you make walking tours sexy and cool? Call them something other than “walking tours” would be a start. Or you could use Touritz. Touritz is putting the power of capturing unique stories, history, and even legends, in the hands of every one of us. The company hopes that its product will power the ability to pull out local history in an entirely unique and captivating way.
Through a combination of video, pictures, text, audio, and geo-tagging, Touritz is developing a platform that will allow anyone to create “tours.” The goal is to make learning local history fun and engaging by allowing local historians and tour guides to create and upload walking tours, which can be viewed and downloaded to mobile devices. Touritz is cultivating a community of tour creators to share local landmarks and historic sites, art gallery and museum tours, scenic locations, and family destinations.
The founders have the perfect background that will help make Touritz successful. Both Sean Thomas and Steve Oldfield have deep experience in journalism and broadcasting. They each appreciate and actively participate in creating walking tours that have a higher production quality as well as a more personal and timely approach.
“Too many sites rely on printed maps with a bunch of text which does not capture anyone’s attention,” explains Oldfield. “Touritz will not only allow for a greater selection of tours for a given place, but each tour will be unique in that it was created by anyone from a professional guide to a knowledgeable tourist. The experience will be more immersive as you will use your mobile device to learn, look, and listen to the information. In truth, you could even take a guided tour from the comfort of your couch.”
Right now, team Touritz is going through the UpTech accelerator program and further developing the beta. Come March, for the UpTech Demo Day, the goal is to have a complete platform with user traction. As for working with Keith Richards, there are no plans yet, and in truth that was the author’s idea. Nonetheless, the potential for celebrity or off-beat tours is immense with a platform like this. Touritz could certainly make walking tours sexy and cool. Or one hopes.
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