UGoTour’s interactive, audio-narrative travel/sightseeing app upends the traditional list-and-describe tour guide model.
The description is as straightforward as the application is simple: Connecting people, places, and stories. Free. Informative. Fun. That would be UGoTour, a unique smartphone app positioned as a kind of “digital tour guide” for Western North Carolina travelers, tourists, and residents interested in experiencing popular destinations and local businesses.
Basically, a user downloads the UGoTour app from iTunes or Google Play, and the sight-seeing and exploration possibilities begin via an interactive, storytelling environment powered by what UGo calls StoryPoints. “Our tours,” notes UGo’s website, “are fun, informative, and professionally-developed, incorporating narration and location mapping. With UGoTour, you’re invited to encounter the ideal mesh of contemporary, traditional, and innovative. UGoTour currently offers a focused selection of Western North Carolina tours, giving users an opportunity to grow with the app. It functions as a guide for both tourists and residents.”
It’s the brainchild of founder/CEO Paul Hedgecock, who is joined by creative director Brett A. McCall, StoryPoint™ navigator Ryan Sherby, COO David Lilly, customer service manager Vickie Simmons, and content writer Alyssa Allegretti. Hedgecock got the idea for UGoTour after moving to the Western North Carolina area in 2013. He and his family enthusiastically explored the mountains but, as he told the Black Mountain News in a July 2016 profile, the discovery process was sometimes frustrating: “We saw a sign that said ‘Historic Downtown Saluda,’ and I thought it was interesting that so many downtowns in the area are historic. So I pull out my phone and all I can find is lists. Nothing that reaches out and grabs me and builds a connection. There had to be an experience that was interactive and engaging that actually enhanced your trip, as opposed to dominating your trip.”
To that end, UGoTour departs from the list-and-describe method that most printed or online tourist resources typically follow. Instead, the UGo interactive technology provides audio narration to augment maps and images. It’s almost as if the traveler is accompanied by an actual human guide, telling you what you are seeing and what else there is to see, providing details, tidbits, and recommendations in an intimate, conversational manner—even helping you flesh out the rest of your sightseeing schedule.
“We believe that the best way to connect consumers with destinations is through stories,” Hedgecock elaborated, in an interview prior to the 2016 CEC Tech Venture Conference. “Traditional marketing collateral, such as a brochure in a visitors center, is not immersive or engaging, and ultimately fails to build a meaningful connection between the visitor and their destination. UGoTour is specifically designed for personalized storytelling, is delivered on a single digital platform, [and] connects people with places. Users now have one place to explore local destinations and experience new areas like a local. We do this by capturing the ‘soul’ of the community as told through local storytellers, and then curating itineraries—or ‘tours’—that are published on our mobile app and web platform.
“We are reimagining the way that local destinations engage with their visitors. Today’s consumers are often stuck with stale, generic information when they are exploring a new place in person. UGoTour lets the community make recommendations in a personal, meaningful way through the magic of storytelling.”
UGoTour on the web: www.ugotour.com
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