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FAQ's

What opportunities does the TravelStorysGPS smartphone application offer my organization?
This free app’s engaging and entertaining stories build and strengthen connections between people and the land. With this unique multimedia app, you can reach out to visiting travelers and your local community in an innovative, individualized way.

TravelStorysGPS creates new sources of revenue with the app’s Text-to-Give feature and through increased funding opportunities. Many donors are interested in bringing new technologies to the nonprofits they support.

How is TravelStorysGPS different from other travel audio-guides?
TravelStorysGPS interweaves historical stories and natural history tales with a variety of fun facts. The GPS-triggered narration is enriched with music and images. You can even tailor a channel dedicated purely to kids.

How will TravelStorysGPS help to promote our mission?
TravelStorysGPS is a great medium for sharing your organization’s accomplishments and promoting important ongoing and future projects. Unlike traditional fundraising practices, the app uses different StoryChannels to reach out to people through their specific interests (history, wildlife, kids, etc.).

Additionally, TravelStorysGPS provides a great opportunity to partner with other nonprofits, travel bureaus and businesses in your region.

What makes TravelStorysGPS a promising fundraising mechanism?
TravelStorysGPS gives organizations a forward-thinking tool for reaching out to members of the traveling public who have been largely untapped by traditional fundraising efforts. To receive cell-phone donations, your organization will be assigned a “keyword” – a short donor identification code. (You can use this same keyword to generate funding in other ways, such as your website, events, newsletters and word-of-mouth.) Unlike other Text-to-Give mechanisms, which require donors to type in the keyword, TravelStorysGPS reduces the giving process to two simple taps on the screen. This creates a very low threshold for making charitable gifts.

TravelStorysGPS is an especially great tool for reaching out to the younger generation, for whom texting is a primary form of communication.

In addition to the app donation, what are other potential revenue streams for our organization?
TravelStorysGPS has tremendous potential for attracting commercial sponsorship. We can also offer extra content upgrades, such as an additional channel. Users purchase app upgrades for a modest fee.

How does TravelStorysGPS solicit and receive charitable gifts?
Our narration integrates an introduction of your organization into the storytelling, before asking for a voluntary $5 gift. App users are directed to tap a gift-box icon on the screen and then follow two simple steps to complete the transaction. The gift appears on the donor’s next cell phone bill. (The gift mechanism is disabled on the Fun for Kids channel.) The gift-box icon is constantly present on the TravelStorysGPS screen, so users can make a voluntary gift at any time while enjoying the app.

How much of the voluntary donations do we receive?
TravelStorysGPS and the service provider do not take any portion of the donations. However, there is a modest processing charge of 48 cents per $5 donation charged by Give By Cell®.

How are you testing this new product?
In August 2012, TravelStorysGPS launched a pilot project featuring two tours along popular local roads in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. One was produced in partnership with Jackson Hole Land Trust, the other with Grand Teton National Park Foundation. So far, the app has been well received.

How is the app marketed?
TravelStorysGPS shares marketing responsibilities with its NGO partners. Spreading the word about this new app is the key to its success. In the pilot phase of TravelStorysGPS, we are exploring many ways to promote the first two tours. We have flyers and posters at many locations around town – including all hotels – as well as an active Twitter feed, website and Facebook presence. Local groups, such as popular outdoor-enthusiast and techie blogs, have posted announcements and links to us on their websites. We are also reaching out to wider distributors, such as TripAdvisor.

Potential partners should have high-traffic venues in mind when it comes time to discuss local marketing. Think about central locations such as trail heads, airports, visitors center, rental car agencies, entrance gates, train and bus stations, etc. Remember, you are looking to garner deep local support, as well as tourist interest.

Our pilot phase is implementing an exciting “App for an App” promotional campaign. Four local restaurants (one on each end of each tour), are offering a free appetizer to customers who present a screen of a tour (showing that they’ve used the app). This creates an additional useful tracking mechanism for measuring app usage.

We contracted with Marketing and Public Relations firms in order to roll-out a comprehensive and scalable marketing plan locally and nationally in 2013. New routes and their sponsoring organizations directly benefit from what we have learned and achieved through this process, and will be able to implement our successful outreach strategies in their own regions.

What kinds of devices are compatible with TravelStorysGPS?
This free app is currently available for the iPhone®, iPad® & majority of recent Android® devices.

What if our chosen route doesn’t have continuous cell phone service?
This is not a problem. When users download a tour, they receive all of its content on their devices. After that, no cell-phone or data service is necessary to enjoy the app. Cell-phone service is necessary to complete the transaction of the voluntary gift, however if a user makes the donation when out of service, it is merely delayed until he or she regains service.

What type of landscape qualifies as a potential site for a new tour?
Ideal tours are popular, scenic, heavily traveled routes that are marketable to travelers and contain conserved lands with interesting visual features and rich tales about their history, geology, and wildlife. Highway routes should have minimal side-traffic roads. Routes can be either linear or nonlinear (i.e., creating a map of interesting sites, not necessarily connecting by a particular route). TravelStorysGPS can also build tours for other forms of travel – rafting trips, hiking trails, gallery walks, etc.

The key to a route’s success is the availability of great content (documented facts and stories about the region) – or enough resources to gather that content. Another important consideration is a route’s potential for sponsorship.

How can we create a new tour?
Your contract with TravelStorysGPS will describe the necessary steps required to create a new tour. The initial launch fee is based on total travel time, number of content channels, and total content development contracted to TravelStorysGPS. These costs can all be tempered by greater involvement and resource commitment from the partnering organization.

Once your new route is established, TravelStorysGPS supplies technical support, upgrades, etc., for a modest monthly maintenance fee.

What are the four basic content channels?
History & Community – Stories of yesterday and today
Geography & Landscape – Wildlife, geology and more!
Fun for Kids – A lively exploration of the land, animals and people designed specifically for children
Public Access – We invite the public to submit their own written or recorded stories experienced along our featured tours. Future app updates will include an in-app audio recorder. We will also provide mechanisms to collect text, still images, and video.

Channels are supported by text for users to read before or after their trip, as well as explanatory photographs that enrich the audio stories visually, including pictures of wildlife, historical personalities and maps described in the narration.

Can we add custom channels?
Yes, we can design content channels to suit your particular area and mission. For example, we can tour historic homes or old movie sets, focus on a particular activity or sport (such as mountain climbing), interview people knowledgeable about a particular topic (history, wildlife, etc.), or focus on philanthropy at work in a region. More readily available content (digitized interviews, etc.) will reduce the cost.

Can we have a map overlay highlighting our protected properties or current projects?
Yes, TravelStorysGPS is a flexible medium designed to promote nonprofits working in each tour’s region. Our developer can work with you to connect to travelers in many ways.

How do we keep content fresh and interesting?
One of the benefits of this medium is that its main target audience is visitors passing through the region, so content doesn’t need to be changed. To keep the Share Your Story channel fresh for locals, TravelStorysGPS will periodically rotate in new stories provided by the public. We also hope to receive feedback from users that will help to shape future content. For other channels that have excess content, we can revolve the stories automatically.

What is our role in the making of a new tour?
Working with TSG is a true partnership requiring an organizational commitment of time, staff support and leadership. Organizational responsibilities include support in content development and marketing, arrangements with Give By Cell and more. TSG will guide you through these steps and offer discounts when your organization can undertake tasks that TSG would otherwise have to do.

The engaging stories gathered during the research phase of the tour production process can be reused in your organization’s newsletters, websites, presentations, and other programs.