Technology and tourism: OnCell app becomes the new tour guide

January 31, 2013 Ronda Mobile Apps

While planning a recent weekend getaway, I stumbled upon a new way to explore a destination with mobile technology and thought I would give it a try.

Because my husband is an avid baseball fan and a history buff, we decided to take the Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail tour. We started by downloading the free app from OnCell. The app linked to a map with the 26 tour stops pinpointed. As we proceeded to each stop in the comfort of our car, it was almost like going on a scavenger hunt. Once we arrived at a tour site, we read the marker, then used my phone to watch a video about the historic significance of the site.

For example, we saw the place where Babe Ruth hit a 573-foot home run during a spring training game – a site that now is a parking lot. An actual home plate with a plaque to mark the exact spot where batters stood at spring training sits in that parking lot, which was once Whittington Park. Other stops showed us where Hank Aaron, Cy Young, Rogers Hornsby and other baseball Hall of Famers once frequented.

We took the tour in order from stops 1 to 26. Although the makers of the tour seemed to group sites together in order, a few of the stops required back-tracking, and the app did not give us directions to the next site, which could have cut down our driving time. We found all but one marker, and each stop’s marker included a QR code that could be scanned for those who don’t have the app. Overall, we enjoyed the tour and liked the fact that we were able to take it at our leisure.

OnCell has hundreds of tours to choose from, many of them related to National Park sites. Some of the more popular tours include Norman Rockwell’s America tour, the Grand Canyon tour, and the Independence tour of Philadelphia. Historic battlefields, museums, zoos, state capitols and numerous other places can be toured by cell phone. Closer to home, there are 10 different tours available for Little Rock, including the Old State House, Historic Arkansas Museum, and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. Other OnCell tours available for Arkansas include two in Fort Smith. Some of the available tours contain only audio files, but others include videos. Visitors without a smart phone can call a phone number to listen to the tour.

The great news for areas wanting to increase tourism is that anyone can create a cell phone tour. OnCell offers a free trial, and a web interface provides administrative access to your tour and real-time statistics to manage your data. Most towns have something worth seeing, and people who come to see those sites spend money while they are there. If your town could use more visitors, think about getting your community involved in creating a cell phone tour of your own!

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Ronda

About Ronda Hawkins

Ronda Hawkins, training coordinator for the ASBTDC at Arkansas Tech University, has experience in sales, business administration, business management, business education, and small business ownership.

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