The digital transformation of audioguides


26 June, 2020

The digital transformation of audioguides

The digital transformation of services involves the modernization of the processes and products that form them to increase their efficiency, value experience and income generating capacity.


Audio guide services are a service that has not undergone many variations until the advent of connected mobile technology. Mobile applications and smartphones have enabled the digital transformation of this service, used by millions of visitors every year, and which allows museums and monuments to establish a relationship of trust with them that until now was unthinkable.


Today, a visitor can interact with the collection and the building individually, can access multimedia and interactive content, can personalize their visit and contract additional services, while allowing the institution to improve its knowledge of its public to carry out more effective and segmented actions.


The audio guide service is a complex service whose transformation does not consist in replacing them for an APP. This is a very limited vision that forgets many opportunities and compromises the subsistence of a source of income generation for the museum.


The COVID19 crisis has dramatically highlighted the digital shortcomings of many cultural institutions, but it has also allowed the digital transformation to enter the sector. However, this evolution also brings risks if we do not carry out a serious and careful analysis of processes and costs.


It is true that during the confinement and the prohibitions on audio guides (which have finally been lifted), the APPs in their different modalities (PWA or progressive web applications, Web APPs, native, hybrid APPs, etc.) offered an alternative until the face-to-face service would again operate or be profitable. But I underline the “until”. We should never think that this is a permanent strategy, much less that this is a properly planned or completed digital transformation.

audioguías y transformación digital

Since 2015, GVAM has been applying this methodology to the audio guide services it manages in Spain and in other countries. Institutions such as National Heritage, the Alhambra and the Generalife, the Futbol Club Barcelona, Real Madrid, the Cathedral of Seville, etc, they benefit from comprehensive solutions that we incorporate into all elements of the value chain. Thanks to the concession contracts, enormous amounts of narrations, images, videos, accessibility aids, etc. of the highest quality and at no cost have been produced to these institutions. This is a formula that very few services can replicate since they do not have such a clear profit-price ratio for visitors.


The devices that are used to provide the service within the mentioned museums and monuments and that are provided to visitors are only one link in this chain that, from our point of view, must connect with the customer’s data ecosystem. Perhaps the audio guides, the device and its informative content are the only visible element, but it should not be thought that there is nothing else behind it.


As in an iceberg, behind the devices there are applications, processes, people that make the visitor feel comfortable, open their minds and trust us for several hours.


A great opportunity for digital transformation. It is necessary to flee from simplifications or short-term visions that cause an immediate economic loss, and even the failure of the transformation by not meeting expectations.


GVAM has invested many resources and implemented solutions that today give confidence to clients around the world and to millions of visitors. These solutions provide service indistinctly to the APPs and our smart audio guides that are rented to the visitor in museums by our staff.


For example, we have developed complex data capture and behavioral analytics systems, allowing our clients to characterize visitors and better plan the exhibition offering and their communication campaigns. We are able to take advantage of this information and launch real-time promotions to tourists, thus connecting heritage resources with leisure, shopping, or gastronomy in our cities. We have implemented systems of participation and planning of the visit, both for families and school groups, who learn by playing in palaces and other monuments full of stories to tell. During this health crisis, it has been possible to easily add monitoring and information solutions to visitors who report saturated areas, and send automated messages with measures related to COVID19. We have the ability to deploy and update changes immediately and segmented thanks to the connectivity of all solutions and all elements of the experiential chain.


Digital transformation is necessary but not in any way.


The return to trust and sustainability will go through making viable the full integration of the systems and their connection with the visitor: the box office, the guide, the store, having a coffee and the connected audio guides. Nothing and nobody should be left behind and audio guide services should be part of the digital transformation. At GVAM we are prepared and willing to implement rigorous and effective operations that build trust for users so that they feel safe and cared for, so that they continue to participate, interact and enjoy our culture and heritage.


Jaime Solano, Founder and CEO of GVAM