If you routinely conduct guided tours on a factory floor or in other noisy environments, you know how difficult it is for guests to hear what’s being said without the aid of a listening device. Industrial equipment, forklifts, competing conversations and more can easily drown out a presenter’s voice.
A high-quality tour guide system is the best way to remove distractions and help tour guests hear, focus and enjoy their experience. But how does a tour guide system work and what should plant managers, trainers and other stakeholders look for when renting or buying a tour guide system for factories? Let’s start with the basics and some pro tips, then move on to recommendations.
RELATED: Tour Guide System FAQs
What is a Tour Guide System?
A wireless tour guide system is a portable communication tool that allows a presenter(s) to speak and interact with a group of people without having to raise their voice or repeat themselves to be heard.
Messages from the tour guide are delivered directly to the receivers and headsets of tour guests via a radio frequency. There are generally two types of tour guide systems:
- One-way tour guide systems. As its name suggests, a one-way system allows one tour guide to communicate to each group with a hands-free headset or hand-held microphone. Guests can ask questions or additional presenters can be added by passing the handheld mic option.
- Two-way tour guide systems. Two-way systems allow for two-way communication and multiple presenters, allowing for enhanced capabilities and tour guest interaction.
Both one-way and two-way systems have assistive listening and interpretation options with device settings and neck loop options.
It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all tour guide solution. A noisy factory floor requires a different system than a campus tour, for example. Make sure you work with a provider who can offer multiple options to fit your needs.
What’s Included in a Tour Guide System?
In simple terms, tour guide systems consist of transmitters, receivers or transceivers, microphones and headsets. They’ll also come with protective carrying cases, batteries and chargers.
Here’s what to look for in each tour guide communication system component.
A tour guide wears a lanyard-worn or belt-pack transmitter with the option of a hand-held microphone. When the guide speaks, the transmitter transmits vocal signals via a dedicated radio frequency channel to the wireless receivers worn by tour members. Multiple channels can be set up to host multiple simultaneous tour groups.
Pro Tip: Ask your provider whether they will pre-program the system so it’s ready to use out of the box. This is especially important for special events like VIP plant tours or an open house where you might rent a tour guide system.
Depending on the tour guide system you choose, you may have the option of either a handheld microphone or a headset microphone. Each has its pros and cons: handheld microphones can be handed off to other presenters or guests, whereas a headset microphone allows for hands-free operation and demonstrations.
Pro Tip: Some systems allow you to fine-tune the microphone settings and feature noise-canceling technology to minimize background noise and deliver crystal-clear audio. Some may even encrypt the audio for added privacy. It’s important to ask a tour guide system vendor about available features and the quality of their microphones to ensure they’re appropriate for your environment.
Tour groups wear a compact receiver with a built-in antenna. It receives the signal from the transmitter and broadcasts it to the headset.
Pro Tip: Determine whether you need one-way or two-way functionalities. Not all tour guide systems have two-way capabilities. Likewise, not all systems offer assistive listening capabilities for hearing-impaired guests and language interpretation.
A transceiver combines a transmitter and receiver into a single device, allowing a single piece of audio equipment to receive and send information simultaneously. For technologies that include two-way wireless communication, guests simply push a button and speak into their microphone to respond or ask questions in real-time.
Headsets and Headphones
Wireless tour guide headsets allow tour presenters and guests to communicate, listen and, if equipped with two-way technology, interact. They come in a variety of options including lightweight, hard-hat compatible, single-ear or dual-ear headsets, protective ear muffs and earbuds.
Pro Tip: Will your tour guests be required to wear hard hats? Not all tour guide systems come with hard-hat compatible headsets, so vet your choices carefully. Also consider the noise-reduction rating (NRR) of your headphones and whether they offer adequate hearing protection. NRR headsets are often necessary for industrial and other high-noise environments
Batteries, Chargers & Accessories
Tour guide systems typically come with built-in lithium-ion batteries that are charged in a docking station for longer battery life. Portable charging stations come with a handy carrying case and allow you to charge on the go. Some tour guide systems come with a variety of accessories including various headsets, headphones, body packs, carrying cases and more.
Pro Tip: When renting a tour guide system, ensure your equipment has been tested and is fully charged upon arrival. If you’re hosting a high-stakes event like a shareholder’s meeting or trade show, ask whether your tour guide system provider offers on-site technical support, including setup, distributing headsets, helping attendees, working with A/V teams, managing the equipment, packing it up and shipping it back. They can ensure everything is taken care of so you can focus on your guests.
Tour Guide System Options
Due to the vast array of tour guide system features, there is no single solution for every situation. At Implecho, we offer a wide range of quality tour guide system options designed to meet your specific needs:
- ListenTALK Tour Guide System — A highly versatile system by Listen Technologies, it features one-way or two-way communication with the ability to have multiple presenters, up to 20 tour groups and a built-in interpretation mode. (Rent, Buy or Demo)
- Sennheiser 2020-D — One-way communication with a professional and polished low-profile design, available with hands-free bodypack, stethoset or bodypack receivers. (Rent, Buy or Demo)
- TGS-900 Tour Guide Solution — An ultra-lightweight solution suitable for tours requiring one-way communication with handheld or hands-free microphones and lanyard-worn devices (Rent, Buy or Demo)
- Williams AV Digi-Wave — A two-way tour guide system with added industrial-strength durability and available NRR safety-rated headphones. (Buy or Demo)
The number of available options for tour guide systems can make it difficult to know which is best for your application. The above tour guide system comparison chart can help you narrow down your choices, but you’ll likely still have questions.
Our helpful professionals work with hundreds of customers to customize tour guide systems tailored to their unique needs. When you contact us, you’ll be connected with a dedicated consultant who will ask just the right questions to ensure you get a just-right solution. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation along with a rental or purchase quote, or to request a demo.
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