How Ventrata created user-friendly audio tours for hop-on hop-off buses

Audio tours on buses often use out-of-date systems. Marek Dvorak explains how Ventrata built user-friendly controls into the Ventrata app​

The systems that run audio tours on buses have a long history. They help passengers learn the history of the sights they are passing by, whether that’s Buckingham Palace, the Empire State Building, or Sydney Opera House.

For each location, the driver triggers a voice message that educates the passengers with a brief story of why it’s significant. The passengers can hear these messages, in their native language, through their supplied headphones.

Improving the audio system is not only for the passengers’ benefit. Drivers play the main role by playing the recordings at the right time. Currently, there are many different devices on hop-on hop-off buses that serve different purposes.

What’s the problem with audio tours?​

Old audio tours were controlled from a fiddly box like this

The entire audio system is controlled with the old box: the driver selects the route, stops at the location and triggers the audio message. This is all carried out separately with manual buttons. It’s very hard to work with. Fixing this system was the problem we decided to solve.

We will try to minimise the number of devices on board the buses, bring the controls up to date and replace the old, box-like system for something more modern. We will unify the functionality into our existing sales terminal. This means a driver can sell tickets and control the audio system with just one system.

Who is the target group?​

Most drivers know their city inside out, but have less experience with technology

In this case, our target group is the driver. Let’s define them a bit. Most bus drivers are men aged between 40- and 60-years-old. They are experienced drivers who used to serve as city bus drivers. They know their city inside out. However, they may not have much experience with modern technology. Their job is to drive a bus, so there is very little time left for the rest.

At Ventrata, we need to develop a system that is clear for them, simple to operate and is especially fast.

Simpler, easier, and we’re saving loads of space​

Handheld terminals save space in the drivers’ cabin

We will use our existing terminal, which we supply in various forms. This comes with a compact design as a tablet or the slightly larger PAX A920. The PAX also allows payments and ticket printing.

We focused on ensuring the buttons of the new user interface were large enough and that the whole flow was logical. We thought mainly of drivers who were used to the old functionality and so cut that whole process and simplified it. The functionality remains the same and the driver saves seconds while operating the much easier touchscreen. And we saved a space in their cabin.

The most important question is: how do you want to use it?​

Every product has different use cases

Whenever we redesign existing solutions, we ask our clients how they use their current ones. Most importantly, we ask how they wish to use those. For us, this is the most important question to be answered.

Every product and its usage is different. This means even the same product can have different solutions. It was only by speaking to our clients and understanding how drivers used the old systems that we were able to update audio tours for the 2020s.

Take a look at our range of devices designed for tour operators, attractions and activities

Ventrata are offering to help tours, activities or attractions operators get through the Covid-19 pandemic however we can

If you need anything at all, feel free to reach out

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