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The easiest way for tour operators to start selling self-guided tours - a digital guide platform

Self-guided tours are emerging as a favorite among travelers seeking independence and flexibility. This shift towards more personalized and self-paced exploration has necessitated a new approach for tour operators looking to cater to modern tourists' preferences. Digital guide platforms such as SmartGuide enable tour operators to easily digitize their tour content, expand their reach, and open new revenue streams.

Discover how SmartGuide's digital audio guide platform can benefit tour operators and tourism entities by providing the easiest way to start selling multilingual self-guided tours to visitors.

For more information, watch the video:


Concept of digital audio guide platforms and how does SmartGuide stand out

Digital guide platforms streamline the process of the creation and distribution of digital guides that travelers can access on their devices, offering a self-guided tour experience.

Established to aid destinations, tourist attractions, as well as independent travelers who want to avoid crowds, SmartGuide serves as a hub for digital audio guides, much like YouTube acts as a platform for videos.

With SmartGuide, tour operators can digitize their top guides, eliminating the worry of inconsistent visitor experiences. This addresses the variability often associated with human guides, as some can deliver outstanding tours while others may not meet the same level of quality.

SmartGuide provides powerful features designed to maximize benefits for tour operators, making it an attractive option for those looking to venture into or expand their digital tour offerings to broader audiences.

Easy publication of interactive digital audio guides

SmartGuide simplifies the publication of digital audio guides with an easy-to-use web-based editor, the SmartGuide Content Management System (CMS). It enables smart route generation, auto-translations, and automatically generates TTS audio out of text descriptions, facilitating rapid content updates. This efficiency ensures that tours can reach a wider and multilingual audience, transcending the physical limitations associated with traditional guided tours.

Content creation at SmartGuide digital audio guide content management system

Creation of digital guides at SmartGuide's content management system

Multilingual support across 30 languages

In the global tourism market, catering to a diverse audience is essential, and SmartGuide excels by providing multilingual support across 30 languages with DeepL translator integrated into the CMS. This capability makes the guides accessible to visitors from various linguistic backgrounds.

Translation of a guide in multiple languages in SmartGuide app

                                Translation of a guide in multiple languages in SmartGuide travel guide app

It's also possible to add human translations and voiceovers in prominent languages of course, while also offering AI-generated translations and audio for the rest. This guarantees that whether a visitor speaks Polish, Korean, or any other language, they can enjoy a fascinating guided experience. Additionally, SmartGuide provides analytics on demographics, language usage, and behavior in a destination, enabling smart decision-making about where to invest in content improvements.

While a single guide might not speak 30 languages fluently, SmartGuide does, bridging the gap and expanding tour operators' reach to serve an international audience effectively.

This approach allows expansion into languages that would be cost-prohibitive with live guides.

New revenue streams through direct sales of digital audio guides

Tour operators can tap into new revenue streams by directly selling tours via the SmartGuide app. This approach not only facilitates the purchasing process for budget-conscious visitors since it reduces costs associated with live guides but also opens up opportunities for operators to monetize their digital content effectively to multilingual audiences who are happy to pay for an audio tour in their language if available.

These digital audio tours can be marketed as standalone options or bundled with transportation and entrance tickets, presenting a versatile solution that accommodates varying visitors' preferences.

web and other sales channel for tour operators

                 Web and other sales channels for tour operators

Moreover, today's practice of dispatching multiple minivans, each equipped with a driver and a guide for different languages, often leads to turning away visitors due to language barriers. Transitioning to a single large bus equipped with SmartGuide in various languages can address this issue, offering more competitive pricing while catering to travelers seeking convenience and independence. This method makes it possible for the service to reach visitors interested in less common languages and also those who desire more freedom yet value the inclusion of transportation.

Essentially, by reducing reliance on live guides and drivers, it becomes feasible to introduce a low-cost product unmatched by competitors, thus generating higher revenues by serving a broader visitor base.

Comprehensive operation, maintenance, content updates, and support

SmartGuide team manages the complete IT operation, maintenance, updates, and support of the application. This allows tour operators to concentrate on creating engaging content without the burden of technical aspects related to app management.

How to get started with SmartGuide?

Creating a guide with SmartGuide is incredibly easy and user-friendly.
Just follow the simple steps below and the guide can be ready to launch in just a few hours.

Step 1: Preparing the digital guide

Begin by signing up for the SmartGuide Content Management System (CMS).

Then focus on creating high-quality content that includes identifying point of interest and mapping out routes. Write descriptive texts, add photographs and/or videos for each location and tour, and add translations to provide content in multiple languages.

SmartGuide automatically generates TTS audio out of text descriptions, you can also record audio for each place with human actors and upload it to the CMS.

As a cost-saving option instead of human audio, SmartGuide can auto-generate audio using the most advanced AI-driven TTS (text to speech) technology and optimized phonemes (teaching the AI to pronounce correctly local names, acronyms, etc.) for a nominal fee.

Test on your phone before publishing and fine-tune it so that all works as expected.

Alternatively, the SmartGuide team can handle the entire guide creation process for you as a turn-key service.

Creating a guide on SmartGuide's content management system

                                                                              Creating a guide on SmartGuide's content management system

Step 2: Deciding sales approach

There are two main options for distributing the digital audio tours:

  • Direct sale through your channels: These tours are set to private on SmartGuide and not visible to the public. Tour operators sell them through their existing channels: on-premises, via their websites, or via platforms such as Viator or GetYourGuide. Once a visitor purchases the tour, an activation link or QR code will be shared with the buyer. This model suits tours that are part of another product, like boat or bus tours.
  • In-app purchase in SmartGuide app: In addition to selling directly to visitors as with private tours, paid tours can also be publicly listed on the SmartGuide app, making them visible to over 1.3 million users. Potential users can preview the first three points of interest before purchasing. This works for tours that tourists can take independently without any additional product and it can generate additional users on tours that operators don't sell directly through their channels. Furthermore, if the content is popular, SmartGuide can even make it a standalone product to purchase on the platform.

Content creators can sell content directly with ticket or in-app

                                Content creators can sell content directly with tickets or in-app

Step 3: Launching the guide

Once the guide is ready, SmartGuide will provide:

  • QR codes that unlock the content. These can be included in confirmation emails to visitors after they purchase the virtual tour product, or on physical tickets.
  • Promotional material designs that can be used on websites, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media, or to produce prints such as posters or stickers. This helps in marketing the new digital guide to a wider audience effectively.

By following these steps, tour operators and content creators in general can efficiently craft and distribute digital guides, offering a modern and accessible way for travelers to explore and enjoy their destinations.

Creating digital guides with SmartGuide digital audio guide

Pricing structure - Shifting the tide for tour operators

The monetization approach introduced by SmartGuide represents an important transition in tour operators' ability to generate revenue from their content. Here is how:

1) Self-service guide creation (free)

Tour operators gain complimentary access to a Content Management System (CMS), enabling them to effortlessly upload their content and specify geolocations for their tours. This feature is provided at no cost, encouraging operators to digitize their offerings and reach a broader audience without initial investment.

2) Guide creation support

For those requiring assistance in crafting compelling digital guides, additional support is available. Services including content preparation, copywriting, and translations are offered to ensure top-notch, engaging guides. The pricing for these services varies based on the project's scope, providing flexibility to accommodate different needs and budgets.

3) Revenue models

The monetization strategy incorporates two primary content types: private and paid.

Private content: Operators are charged a nominal fee of €1 per user for accessing their exclusive content through distributed links, QR codes, or activation codes, which grants users access to an offline and ad-free premium version of the guide.

However, the significant advantage is that SmartGuide initiates billing only after demonstrating a proof of concept—meaning operators are not billed until their content reaches hundreds of unique users (Selling a guide at €10 to 500 visitors results in a total revenue of €5000. After paying SmartGuide a fee of €500, the remaining €4500 is retained as profit). This ensures there is a viable audience and market for their guides, allowing operators to build a solid user base without immediate financial pressure.

Selling guides with SmartGuide tour guide app

Paid content: A revenue-sharing model is applied for paid content, where operators receive a portion of the proceeds from Premium Subscription sales, after deducting any applicable fees (e.g., app store fees). The share is calculated based on the usage of an operator's content relative to the total content consumption by premium subscribers.

For more information, watch the video:


SmartGuide offers tour operators an efficient and scalable way to enter the digital age with their guided tours. By providing a platform that simplifies the creation, distribution, and monetization of digital guides, SmartGuide addresses the growing demand for self-guided tours. This makes it an attractive option for operators looking to expand their reach and enhance their offerings.

Furthermore, the monetization model offers tour operators a risk-free entry, with costs only applying after proven market interest. This approach not only demonstrates market feasibility but also aligns with the goal of mutual growth and success.

Sign up for SmartGuide today and elevate your tours to meet the demands of the modern traveler.