In the seventh of a series of exclusive interviews, Claude Benard meets community manager for web guided tours companyÂ Zevisit, basedÂ in Marseille, France.
What is the idea behind Zevisit?
Zevisit is making audio and video tours downloadable on web and mobile devices (GPS, iPhone and very soon iPad and Android). We have more than 5,000 tours covering 650 destinations.
Nature, tradition, culture, food, built heritageâ€¦ the tours cover a wide range of topics. Start with exploring the Taj Mahal and other wonders of the world, have a stroll around the most bizarre streets in Paris and finish your tour with world of sounds in Marrakech.
How is the company funded?
Vox inzebox, the company behind Zevisit, was funded in 2000 by Yann Le Fichant. It is now a public company with a Euro 300,000 capital. We are located in the media center in Marseille.
What are the unique features?
Quality content – we have journalists writing the tours and conducitng interviews with locals. We have comedians for videos and our voice experts are recorded for the audio guided tours. The result is different from what we sometimes listen to on a museumâ€™s audioguide. We also work with audio and video archives to bring emotion into our content.
Access – mobility and culture are intrinsically linked. For that reason, we wanted our tours to be available on various devices. Whether you are sitting in your car, in front of your computer or strolling with your iPhone or MP3, you can listen to a guided tour.
Geolocation – all of our points of interest are geolocalised, so that when you launch the iPhone application, it provides you the right travel information where you are, a useful feature when visiting a new city.
Explain the revenue model?
Our clients are public tourist organisations, promoting tourism in France and in Europe, locally and regionally. We provide them with a full package, including the creation of the audio guide, as well as the promotion of their destination on our network and our partnerâ€™s websites.
We are not only creating audioguides but also pushing them on big French travel portals such as Orange or Via Michelin. This business model allows us to offer a free service to our users on Zevisit.com and our iPhone app.
In the battle against competitors, what do you think will help you catch up?
Trustworthy relationships with the public tourism organisations. Our long-time B2B activity is a great asset for our reputation: it has been ten years since the sales team dealt with them, creating tailor-made guided tours.
We are very familiar with that institutional world. We also want to put the emphasis on our use of innovative technology. We developed several iPhone applications for different cities and regions, including an augmented reality release.
In the next few months, there will be more such as an iPad magazine and flashcodes. The new version of Zevisit should be also live by end of the year.
As for audio and video productions, software development is in-house made. This ability to master content production as well as development and web marketing makes our offer unique.
What about international expansion ?
On the B2B side, we depend on our clients, mostly located in France and in Europe. This is the reason why our tours cover these regions. But our goal is to expand and cover more destinations globally.
This has already been made with our international team of journalists called Tribu2Visit. Our writing team has travelled around the world to bring back interviews and tours from various places such as Argentina, South Africa and China. All these tours will be available in our next release.
What about wider international trends around etourism â€“ mobile, augmented reality?
All of our points of interest in the guides are geolocalised. This fits perfectly with the mobile nature of travel and tourism: when you open our iPhone application, for example, you instantly get the tours that are nearby.
In April 2010, we officially launched an augmented reality release in Paris, Lyon and Rennes. The idea was to create an new and innovative panoramic view of a city.
Social media, travel social media, community management, are here to stay and important for brand awareness. What do you do at ZeVisit to be successful in this emarketing area?
ZeVisit is strong in the B2B market, but we wanted to get closer to our final users, without intermediaries. Knowing that we have content and a cool travel service to offer, social media emerged as an incredible opportunity for promoting our brand and spreading the word.
With Facebook reaching half-billion users, investing in community management was a wise decision. We recently launched a Facebook fan page and a place where we promote our content (video, audio and photo) and offer our fans ideas of guided tours in France and around the world.
On our Twitter account, we tweet about all relevant topics related to our activities: tourism, online travel, community management, mobile, geolocalisation and augmented reality.
France is well known for its historical assets and cultural tourism. Do you see some original convergence between tourism and technology?
Technology enables tourism information to be mobile. Attitude towards travel information has changed a lot in the last years. Whereas initially everyone was preparing trips before leaving, users are more enclined to get the information during their trips.
It is probably even more true when referring to cultural tourism, Since it is not (always) considered as a primary need (accomodation, restaurants), it is crucial to make that secondary information even more accessible.
Can you highlight some France startups or French technology that has international potential for travel sector?
- The Morcos brothers with Presselite and their urban augmented reality apps.
- Dismoiou, an interesting French geolocalisation alternative to Foursquare.
- Nomao for its content and innovative local search engine concept.