Audio-guides are known means from the museum in order to provide visitors an additional value: Stories, quotations, connections of what is seen to what is heard are only some of the advantages. However, poorly produced audio guides demand a lot from the visitors: Monotonous language, too much information, repetition of the earlier experiences on old, dusty devices, which have been used by hundreds of people before then. Many visitors then view the missing information on their smartphones. How can this problem be answered with the latest technical solutions?

In 2016, Madame Tussauds Vienna began the search for a solution to these problems and found Oroundo. This resulted in a long and intensive teamwork; the following case study describes it and consists of three parts: It begins with the requirement and problem, the process (storytelling and technology) and concludes with the result.

“We did not have an audio-guide before Oroundo”, tells Sophie Wiesinger, marketing manager of Madame Tussauds Vienna. The thought of how the visiting duration and the interaction could be increased has been lingering through her mind since a good year. Classic audio guides and the familiar, slow devices were known, but are not a solution here. “Cleanliness, theft, charge station and maintenance are only a few of the points, which are very expensive and complicated solutions”, says Wiesinger. A potential solution should function for the visitors without an extra equipment.

In 2017, almost everyone has this solution in hand: Their own smartphone. In 2016, 92% of the Austrians were using it; this corresponds to a 6 percent increase from previous year. It was not a normal audio-guide that worked for Madame Tussauds; an individual solution was required: Due to the architecture of the house, the reception of mobile internet is restricted. The data must also be available offline. Furthermore, often music samples are played in the background of wax figures of musicians. Loud audio-guides are not suitable for these surroundings.

Ultimately Madame Tussauds is meant for entertainment and fun too. This should also be reflected in the audio-guide without affecting the historical facts and quality of the narration. A fascinating starting point!

“The first contact came to us from Oroundo”, says Loresa Mehmeti, project teacher. “No hardware for visitors; that was the most important point of all for us!” After the first meeting, she was also convinced of the concept of Oroundo platform. It gathers museums, cultural attractions, and institutions in one place and thus offers users the opportunity to get to know the many partners of Oroundo within one system. This network effect was also a unique selling point and the second decisive factor was the decision to work together with Oroundo. The final argument was they need not lay out a budget for it, but the earnings of the guides shall be shared with Oroundo.

The process

Every process needs a clear target from the very start, which was determined quickly: Increasing the interaction of visitors and at the stations and with the wax figures, giving information in an entertaining manner and thereby increasing the duration of stay. Technically flawless, stable and comprehensible.

“Many visitors are excited about the exhibition, but they wish there was more to do there”, says Wiesinger. Hence, a guidebook was developed for these figures which act as a very important instrument and is well received too. The good old paper is also a winner in the digital era. But how can the digital potential be utilized, which everyone carries with one, in order to narrate a fascinating story?

Storytelling by Madame Tussaud personally

In Madame Tussauds Vienna, there are more than 80 wax figures – something to everyone’s taste: Historic figures, actors, musicians, sportsman and much more. 80 figures are lively amusing, however too many for one audio-guide: “We have deliberately got two persons in charge of Oroundo project in order to help us with the selection”, says Wiesinger. How can one take one’s pick of figures, which is not too big or too small and with which one can narrate a big story? “The idea of getting Madame Marie Tussaud to narrate about her life and trace an arc over the selected figures occurred to Maren and Maria and we were instantly inspired”, tells Mehmeti.

This approach also corresponded to the concept of working with additional information. The focus should still be on the wax figures, the replicated faces and the manufacturing. An audio guide should not steal the show for any of the figures. The keyword here is ‘show’: Nonetheless the entertainment should not come up short. “We have gathered various audio samples of actors in order to come closer to the figure of Marie Tussaud”, says Maren Waffenschmid, project head in Oroundo.

The audio-guide must be written prior to that: Besides the specified criteria, it was particularly important that it is actually a “tour” through the house and not just a random concatenation of single figures. It did not simplify the challenge; a break was also declared at some of the stations: “The wax room is the heart of Madame Tussauds. It is a very visual experience. An audio-guide does not go well here thematically”, says Waffenschmid. The life of Marie Tussaud was the discussion starter for this new approach of storytelling. A long, thrilling life, characterized by the French revolution and a social advancement of Marie Tussaud. “There is a lot to narrate because Marie Tussaud got to know many of the figures during her lifetime, Napoleon for example”, says Wiesinger.

The process then proceeded very labor-intensively as soon as the 30 figures were selected. Research, matching with the in-house quality criteria of Madame Tussauds, rework and re-examination of facts. Cooperated with text agency and dozens of hours were invested: “The greatest challenge of all was condensing and combining the bulk of information”, narrates Mehmeti. The collected facts must be then packed accordingly: The tonality of what is written and what is spoken, as well as appeals for interactions to visitors, which could be actually implemented. The constant check of cross-references to Madame Tussaud’s life could not be forgotten ever.

Technology that works

The addressed technical challenges were not a problem for Madame Tussauds Vienna: “The complete set-up came from Oroundo, right from installation on-site to testing”, says Wiesinger delightedly. Oroundo works here with Bluetooth Beacons, which prompt the suitable information at a suitable place in the app. In order to avoid overlapping of signals and to find the correct placing of beacons, time and patience are particularly required.

The problem of missing WLANs and the restricted availability of mobile data was solved with the in-house server (IHS). It stores all the required data for the audio-guide and provides it free of cost to the visitors via the in-house WLAN. The perfectly placed beacons then ensure a seamless visitor experience.

Madame Tussauds Vienna also had individual conditions, which could be implemented by Oroundo. For the exclusive sound output via headphones, an additional feature was programmed in the app, which functions flawlessly and is also available to other partners.

Result

What has convinced Wiesinger and Mehmeti of Oroundo after the teamwork?

“We are completely satisfied with the audio-guide and feel as if we could actually give the visitors something new and amazing to take with. For Oroundo, a good communication, personal effort, a 100 percent commitment and mainly a lot of patience and effort for the project are always the pillars”, says Wiesinger.  The first feedback also confirms this assumption: Amazing information, good and comprehensibly articulated and entertaining. Mehmeti enthusiastically narrates about a Hungarian visitor whose mother tongue was not German and he was still thrilled by the audio-guide.

“Oroundo has always supported us, even beyond the launch”, says Wiesinger. In the coming summer season, which will be great for it, it wants to greatly rely on the audio-guide to attract new visitors and make the existing ones happier. Thus, the customer journey shall not be forgotten and the checkout staff of Madame Tussauds shall be trained accordingly.

Maren Waffenschmid describes the feedback of personnel as “Easy to operate and intuitive”. Wiesinger concludes by saying: “Quite honestly: I was positively surprised about everything that you thought of and the efforts you have taken, others would have stepped down”

P.S. Both Maren Waffenschmid and Maria Prock were persons in charge for this project and spend one entire day on the premises only to get to know all the figures as closely as possible.