This is a first in a series of business blog posts of interviews with key personnel from a few of the companies who assisted us in the development of our Sense of Scotland and Blender’s Sample Room which opened to touring visitors in January 2017. A year on, we look back at the project and how these two areas have significantly enhanced our visitor experience.
The first company we are focusing on is Tonwelt. Tonwelt is a Berlin-based manufacturer of guiding products for museums, galleries, visitor attractions and venues. With the introduction of new languages to our tour, including both British and American Sign Language, a product with both audio and video capabilities was required. We approached Tonwelt with a substantial wish-list and they were able to produce a flexible and sophisticated product to meet our needs.
We caught up with Klaus Kornblum, Tonwelt‘s Deputy Managing Director and asked him a few questions about the project…
Q1: Is it correct that of all the visitor attractions that have used your services, we have the biggest number of languages available to visitors on an audio/visual device?
True. At this point, no other Tonwelt client provides more languages to their visitors. We have been producing audio content for museums, heritage sites and visitor attractions for more than 20 years now. But even our most visited sites like The Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, the Berlin State Museums or the Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart do not have so many languages. This is a big plus for The Scotch Whisky Experience and shows your visitor-friendly service.
Thanks for the audio guides in French. Customer review from our visitor survey
The price was great for what you experience, even get equipment if you speak other languages. TripAdvisor review, November 2017
The staff are very well-trained and foreigners can also enjoy the tour thanks to the audio guides (no extra charge) provided in a range of different languages. TripAdvisor review July 2017
Q2: In total, there were more than 1500 audio and video files in 18 languages including American and British Sign Language and 6 subtitled languages to enable those hard of hearing guests from our top European countries to enjoy our tour – what challenges did you face when installing so many files and the multitude of different languages on to the device chosen?
A high number of languages and files is not an issue. Tonwelt’s technical framework is scalable and allows adding languages up to a point where we meet memory capacity issues. This was actually the case at The Scotch Whisky Experience but could be compensated by a simple memory card upgrade. We share file resources across languages; e.g. if a background picture is the same in all languages it is only stored once and not repeatedly in every language folder. While The Scotch Whisky Experience has the most languages, we do have customers with many more files on the devices.
The American and British Sign Language videos were a bit challenging because they really need an extremely smooth playback to ensure perfect readability. We enhanced our video conversion processing to accommodate this. As there were almost 500 videos to render, we also worked on our batch processing technique and now have a very convenient and fast video rendering service which works “on its own” using any input material and just a few parameters to generate the desired output.
What’s good about this venue that it is geared towards tourism and can give you a Chinese language (which saves me from translating from English to Chinese to some of my group). TripAdvisor review, March 2017
Audio guide available in several languages. TripAdvisor review, March 2017
It is centrally located and very well presented with visual, audio and human guides! TripAdvisor review, November 2017
Q3: What was key to the successful delivery of the project?
Teamwork. Several people and companies worked together closely and well-coordinated by our main communication peer in the project, AV Consultant Douglas Bolton. Reasonable and convincing solutions for all challenges in the project could be identified together. However, Tonwelt specifically contributed to success with our outstanding hardware and flexible software platform.
Q4: How did you manage our expectations?
Tonwelt’s project delivery approach consists of four components: Hardware, Software, Content and Services. These items require attention and need to be put together individually for every customer and project. We have a lot of experience and can make use of products proven to be fit for professional use. These are the resources granting customer satisfaction.
Visiting The Scotch Whisky Experience to meet the key personnel and gain a full understanding of the venue’s operation was essential. Tonwelt were pleased to make the journey and the information we took away really helped in our development of specific solutions. We were also happy to send a commissioning engineer to make some final on-site adjustments before the new visitor facilities were launched.
Q5: What were you most proud of in the project delivery?
Every exhibition site has its own special challenges. At The Scotch Whisky Experience, there is a broad mixture of visitor/audio guide interaction options. We have automatically triggered playback, video synchronisation, lists with thumbnails for manual choice and central control of audio guide playback through a Tour Guide. In addition, there was a need to integrate our technology with an existing one.
We are proud of our product framework being so flexible and of our team that did not just find well matching solutions for SWEs requirements but even improved some internal tools with a sustainable, efficiency increasing effect for any future projects.