Can a tour guide on a hired coach in Seville be replaced by an audio system?

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Quite often we have groups asking for a coach hire quote in Seville including a tour guide. Our associated bus companies normally don’t provide tour guides so we often help our clients finding one. This made me think about a maybe not so popular thought among tour guides.

Sure that you have seen them: the double decker tourist busses that drive around touristic cities and provide ‘hop on hop off’ city tours in places such as Seville, Malaga Barcelona and Madrid.

The traditional tour guide has been replaced by an automated audio system. You get a headset and can listen to the tour guide describing the interesting sites such as famous building and monuments that can been seen from the bus.  Now we think it’s logical that when you have a very standardized route which the bus drives again and again it can be a good idea to have just a tape playing. The information given to the tourist will be standard and superficial but maybe his needs do not go farther than that. As the bus is moving on its route at a fixed pace there even might not be to much time for transferring detailed information about sites anyway.

Not so long ago I was on a 1 hour boat tour in Amsterdam seeing the city in a different angel from the waterline in the canals. There also the tour guide was replaced by an audio system. It was ok but it made the canal tour a bit less warm and less charming. No jokes, no funny accent no interaction with the local guide who can answer questions you may have.

So image you being a tour guide on such a fixed route. You would probably get bored of telling the same story 10 times a day for every day of the week. So let’s assume it good that they have automated that part.

Now with today’s technologies it would be relatively easily while touring through Spain and  combining the GPS position of a bus to a database of audio files to listen to location based tourist information. In fact this is already happening: users of smart phones can buy the app Iguidu (read as  ‘I guide you’ ) The information can be listened  in the language of the tourist on the bus so they could save on the expenses paid to a tour guide speaking their specific language. Off course a service like this for now is limited to providing information in one direction only. Problem solving such as double hotel bookings, not confirmed restaurant reservations and last minute wishes of the group travelers to make extra reservations for a flamenco show in Seville could probably not been answered to by an automated system….

What do you think? To what extend could a tour guide be replaced by an automated audio system while touring through Andalusia? Would it be able to make a reservation for a group in ‘La Carbonería’ in Seville? Would the device be able to inform the hotel that the bus is delayed by 1 hours due to traffic issues on the road between de San Pablo Airport and the city center. Let us know your opinion.