The audioguide has established itself as an essential audio device, designed to enrich the visitor’s individual experience. By providing additional information about the works on display and the architecture of the museum, whether in permanent or temporary exhibitions, it aims to deepen understanding of the works for all visitors, whether French or international.

Setting up an audioguide in a museum requires a thorough preliminary study of the target audience, visitor flow, and the layout of the museum.

How to set up an audioguide

There are two main ways of installing an audioguide in a museum: either by direct acquisition or by signing a concession contract.

Acquiring an audioguide is generally the ideal solution for museums with fewer than 300,000 paying visitors a year. By choosing this method, the museum takes charge of the entire project and becomes the exclusive owner of the audioguide solution.

The form of concession contracts depends directly on the annual volume of paying visitors:

  • For an annual attendance of between 300,000 and 600,000 visitors, the museum will opt for a partial concession contract. In this case, the supplier is responsible for the supply and content of the audioguide, while the museum manages the hire of the equipment and pays the supplier a commission on the revenue generated.
  • When the number of visitors exceeds 600,000 per year, it is preferable to opt for a full concession contract. In this case, the supplier assumes all responsibility, from initial investment to maintenance, and pays a portion of the profits to the museum.
  • Another option is to pool resources between several structures, whether museums or heritage sites. By pooling their visitor numbers, these entities can take advantage of a total concession contract, optimizing the benefits for all participants.

Audioguide pricing strategy

Setting the rental price for the audioguide is a significant challenge that demands careful thought, especially regarding how it fits with the museum’s entry fee. There are two principal approaches to pricing:

Separate pricing: Here, the audioguide is presented as an extra option, with a cost distinct from the entrance ticket. This model gives visitors the freedom to choose if they want to enhance their museum experience with an audioguide, providing significant flexibility.

Integrated pricing: In this arrangement, the audioguide’s cost is included in the museum’s admission fee for all exhibitions, be they permanent or temporary. This ensures every visitor has automatic access to the audioguide, creating a consistent and comprehensive experience.

The selected pricing strategy should reflect the museum’s cultural and educational vision. It’s vital to contemplate how the audioguide can augment and deepen the museum’s mission, and to set prices accordingly. The primary goal is to boost visitor engagement and extend the dissemination of the museum’s knowledge and perspectives.

Optimising audioguide signage

Effective signage is crucial from the moment of initial contact with the visitor, starting at the reception. It’s imperative to establish clear visual cues at the audioguide rental point, particularly if it’s offered separately from the admission ticket. Providing a demo audioguide at the entrance can pique visitors’ interest and motivate them to use the tool during their tour.

The audioguide needs to be immediately and unmistakably recognizable throughout the museum. Whether through a distinctive mark next to artworks, special signage in display cases, or markers placed along the visitor route, each sign should intuitively guide the visitor and enhance their museum experience in a natural manner.

QR codes are instrumental in easing information access, allowing visitors to quickly immerse themselves in the specifics of a particular scene.

Designing the audioguide

Crafting an audioguide is a multifaceted process that extends well beyond merely providing information. It necessitates deep strategic planning to deliver an immersive and educational experience to visitors. Here are the essential steps for developing an effective audioguide:

Identifying the target audience:

It’s essential to accurately determine the intended audience for the audioguide. This step allows for tailoring the content to cater to the diverse needs and preferences of various demographic segments.

Drawing up bespoke specifications:

A solid project foundation lies in a detailed specification set. While the Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN) offers a guideline, customizing this blueprint to align with a museum’s unique collections, audience, and goals is advisable.

Creating authentic and informative content:

Content should initially be crafted by the museum’s experts to guarantee the authenticity and reliability of the shared information. This material is then fine-tuned by the audioguide provider to ensure it fits the intended format and tone.

Offering different reading levels:

Catering to all visitor types by providing varied content levels is crucial:

  • Detailed analyses for experts, students, or those seeking extensive insights.
  • Brief summaries for quick visits or newcomers.
  • Engaging, interactive options for children and school groups, ensuring the audioguide is approachable and fun for younger visitors.

Multilingualism and compliance with legal standards:

In our globalized world, offering the audioguide in multiple languages is imperative. Such diversity broadens the experience for international guests and boosts the museum’s worldwide appeal.

Adopting a thoughtful, expert-driven approach in designing audioguides enables museums to significantly improve the visitor experience, overcoming linguistic and cultural barriers to make their visit both enlightening and enjoyable.

Audioguide tendering procedure

For museums initiating significant audioguide projects, setting up a tendering process is key to guaranteeing the initiative’s quality and efficiency.

Transmitting the specifications:

After the museum has clearly outlined its goals and needs, the specifications are forwarded to the most reputable audioguide suppliers in the industry.

Analysis of suppliers’ proposals:

The received proposals are meticulously analyzed to identify the most suitable offer. It’s crucial not to be swayed solely by the financial aspect. An offer that seems economically advantageous might lack essential features necessary for delivering top-notch service.

Critical evaluation of options:

Evaluating the proposals demands careful attention to ensure that all necessary features, such as the option for memory expansion to enhance device autonomy, are included to provide a flawless user experience.

In essence, for the most ambitious projects, the tender process is a critical step to ensure the museum secures a high-quality audioguide in terms of content, technology, and value.

The importance of specifications in producing an audioguide

Specifications play a pivotal role in the development of an audioguide, contributing significantly to the project’s success:

Clarification of objectives: The specifications help to clearly define the audioguide’s goals, whether they’re to educate, inform, or immerse visitors in a unique experience, guiding the entire creative process.

Project framework: This document sets the project’s boundaries, specifying required functionalities, technical limitations, and languages, among other aspects. This prevents project deviation and aligns the expectations of all stakeholders.

Basis for negotiation: It acts as a reference during consultations with suppliers, allowing them to precisely understand the museum’s expectations and submit suitable proposals.

Quality guarantee: By clearly stating the expected quality standards, in terms of content, technology, and usability, the specifications ensure the audioguide meets the set criteria.

Facilitating communication: It serves as a common reference point for all involved parties (museum teams, service providers, content experts), ensuring a unified approach to the project.

Resource and budget management: By delineating the project’s scope, the specifications aid in estimating both human and financial resource needs, enabling effective budget management.

Thus, the specifications are more than just a document; they are the foundation of the audioguide’s success, ensuring the project is managed efficiently, transparently, and with a clear focus on defined goals.

Producing the audioguide: from theory to practice

The production phase is where the audioguide project truly comes to life, turning visions and objectives into a tangible experience for the visitor. The specifications, meticulously prepared by the museum, direct every implementation phase, guaranteeing adherence to each detail. The proposal from the chosen supplier, selected for its alignment with the museum’s specific requirements, is seamlessly incorporated. This synergy between the specifications and the supplier’s proposal not only ensures loyalty to the initial vision but also achieves exceptional technical and artistic quality. The end product is an audioguide that informs, educates, and engages, providing visitors with a profound and unforgettable cultural immersion.