Leading a Socially Distant Tour in Pandemic Times: How a New Transmitter System Allows Adjustments
As you might imagine, the walking tour business has pretty much stalled since March, though I and some others have made a partial pivot to leading webinars, aka virtual tours.
But recently a previous client, who lives in Brooklyn, contacted me to organize a tour for a small family gathering. He expressed interest in two neighborhoods. I recommended Red Hook, which is not only very interesting, it's not very crowded, so perfect for social distancing.
He started with just a handful of people, but when he said the group was up to 8, I decided to invest in a tour guide system, with a transmitter and 10 receivers with earphones, to ensure I could be heard while maintaining social distance. (I asked him to cap the group at 10; it wound up as 9 people.)
I'd thought for a while about buying such a system to enhance options for visitors. (Meanwhile, new technologies are emerging to convert people's smartphones into receivers, and they can use their own earbuds. But I didn't have time to check that out.)
The best-known name for such a system, and likely both the most expensive and the highest quality, is known as Whisper, which does not publish its prices for sale or rent. I bought a much cheaper competitor, perhaps a knock-off.
Did it work? Well, mostly. I was able to speak into the lapel microphone, and the group could hear me from a good distance away, even those lagging a block or more behind. That saved time, because they didn't have to catch up to hear me, and it also allowed people to keep a healthy distance even when i wanted them relatively close, to show them images or a book.
One flaw was static at certain times, perhaps related to wind. I'll need to test it out more. Bottom line: this adds an option at a time when walking tours are constrained.
Yes, there's something lost when your face is covered, as the photo suggests, and your glasses change color. That said, it's still invigorating and interesting to be out there touring, especially when we can see things like this.
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Touring Brooklyn Blog
Observations and ephemera related to my tours and Brooklyn. Comments and questions are welcome--and moderated.