Make Slow Art Day Last Year-Round

Slow Art Day, museums, museum, art, cultural institution, five-minute stare

Are you taking part in Slow Art Day on Saturday? The annual event features 156 museums and art galleries nationwide, including small institutions and large ones like Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation and Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art.

The cultural institutions are asking visitors to register at and then to show up on Saturday to look at a preassigned work of art for a full five to ten minutes. Then guests simply talk about their experience with each other.

Why is this important? Because it encourages your cultural institution’s visitors and members to examine the art thoroughly instead of blowing through the exhibits to catch “as much as possible” in one visit. “When people look slowly at a piece of art they make discoveries,” according to the Slow Art Day website. “It unlocks passion and creativity and helps to create more art lovers.”

The event was created by Phil Terry, after he spent a full hour looking at 1943 abstract painting  “Fantasia,” by Hans Hofmann, at the University of California Berkeley Art Museum, The Wall Street Journal reported. He “found the unfamiliar experience galvanizing.”

According to the WSJ, most people spend 17 seconds looking at each individual painting during a museum visit. “The temptation to [zoom] from piece to piece in search of instant gratification can be overwhelming.”

Slow Art Day is a one-day event, but its philosophy can and should be promoted year-round. Guide by Cell can help. We already provide a suite of services to add interpretation to your exhibits, helping visitors appreciate each individual piece of art instead of rushing through quickly and never returning. Invariably, our clients benefit from providing deeper levels of visitor engagement.

Our Smartphone Tours allow you to create a mobile website rich in content and engagement. Audio Guides let visitors dial a number, press keys and instantly engage with your audio content. With Text Messaging, you can deliver event reminders, links to web pages and games directly to your visitors. Mobile Fundraising and one-on-one Text Chat allow you boost engagement even further.

We can also help your visitors talk about your exhibits with Visitor Polls. Ask them to relay their emotions and impressions of our by calling a toll-free dedicated line and leaving a message. You have the ability to collect and track caller data and audio.

It takes only one good painting or other piece of art, and five minutes of your visitors’ time, to make a real impression.

This month only, we’re offering Visitor Polls — a $500 value — FREE with an annual contract for the Text Messaging service, Mobile Web Authoring Platform and Audio Guides.

To learn more, call us at 415-615-0150 or email [email protected] for a free 20-minute demo of all four service offerings.

Re-Engage Your Visitors with Mobile Content

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According to the National Awareness, Attitudes, and Usage Study, even those people who have visited cultural institutions in the past and express interest in visiting again don’t follow through. That’s because interest and intent are not directly linked, according to Know Your Own Bone, an online blog that looks at engagement at visitor-centric institutions.

Despite 85 percent of the study’s respondents reporting interest in visiting a museum, zoo, aquarium, performing arts center or other visitor-centric institution, only 54 percent had visited within the previous two years. That leaves 31 percent expressing interest in going but not actually going.

That’s because other interests are competing for their time. They may love the art museum, but enjoy catching the hit blockbuster in a theater, a sporting event or doing nothing at all. The number of people who prefer to stay home given the choice to go out has increased by more than 17 percent in the last five years. Logistical reasons can be to blame. Sometimes it’s hard to find transportation. Sometimes there’s no parking. And sometimes it’s not possible to get out of work, school or other appointments.

Another reason is how much visitors depend on technology, and need it to interact with the world around them. That’s your chance to let them interact with your institution using on-demand content.

But Know Your Own Bone points out that even though people may not show up at your cultural institution on any given day, they are still online and open to engage with you digitally. This is your chance to communicate the benefits of your institution and plant seeds for the future. Technology is your communication medium, and that’s where Guide by Cell can help.

Begin by asking visitors to opt in to receive text messages from your organization when they do visit, or directly from your website. From there, you can communicate with your audience, segmented in any way you want, at a time that is most convenient for them. Send them text messages that redirect them to mobile sites that you built in minutes. Load the sites with information about new exhibits, visiting artists, animal birth announcements and fundraisers. Embed videos, images, audio clips and any rich media. Invite visitors to participate in contests, submit surveys or take quizzes.

Guide by Cell solutions connect potential visitors with the content they desire, even when they’re not physically present at your cultural institution.  

These are just a few of the many ways to engage with potential visitors when they are not at your cultural institution. “Targeted, personalized communications – enabled by technology – are the key,” according to Know Your Own Bone. If you keep people engaged, they will continue to act as ambassadors for your cultural institution, sending the people in their social circles right into your arms.

Learn how Guide by Cell can help you re-engage your cultural institution’s past visitors in a FREE 20-minute demo. Email us at [email protected] and call us at 415-615-0150.

Empower Your Security Team with Mobile, Visual Tech by Guide by Cell

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While many public institutions such as museums use security teams, interaction between individual officers is still heavily reliant on on old-fashioned walkie-talkies and radios. Those allow only for verbal communications, of course, but we live in a highly visual world. Allowing security teams from communicating visually makes their jobs much easier. This is now a real, successful and cost-effective reality with the Guide by Cell mobile platform.

When your teams rely on radios for communication, it can frequently lead to miscommunication, which can be a problem when dealing with suspicious activity, persons of interest, lost children and seniors. All those are better conveyed with photos. That’s where the Guide by Cell SMS notification system and mobile web authoring platform steps in. Text messages can be delivered quickly and include photos, videos, text and other rich media. In other words, they can bring your security detail into the visual, three-dimensional world.

Additionally, text messages have an open-rate of nearly 99 percent. That’s much higher than the roughly 20-percent open rate for emails.

Cultural institutions like the Monterey Bay Aquarium are now using mobile technology powered by Guide by Cell to keep its security teams engaged. We make it possible to overcome the difficulty of notifying all on-duty officers immediately and efficiently when an issue or danger arises.

Using the Guide by Cell SMS and mobile platform is simple. First, build a list of security team contacts, and organize members any which way you want. Each officer will be texted with a request to opt-in for communication and alerts. This is repeated daily and the officers only opt in when they are working.

Whenever any security officer wants to notify others about any incident, she or he is quickly able to notify the others by sending a text message with smartphone-shot photos or a screenshot of a live video feed. Others respond with updates of their own. The entire team can stay current on statuses of ongoing events.

Guide by Cell mobile technology isn’t just helpful to museums. It can be used by airports, hotels, parks, historical sites, libraries, government buildings, festivals, hospitals, educational institutions, stadiums, music venues and shopping centers. It can be used by anyone.

With Guide by Cell, you won’t have any more lapses in communication, or inaccurate descriptions that delay incident resolution.

More industries are recognizing the value of SMS and the its capabilities. That’s because it is so easy to use. The technology is second-nature to most people. Messages are also instantaneous and don’t depend on wifi connectivity. Guide by Cell makes it easy to automate text message delivery, saving you time. Even better for IT departments, the technology is already built and does not require lengthy integration. You could be up and running in minutes.

Learn more how Guide by Cell mobile technology can help your institution’s security team. Register for a free 20-minute demo of Guide by Cell’s breakthrough service below.

Guide Your Visitors with Guide by Cell’s GPS Wayfinder

Perfect for walking or driving tours at parks, or walking tours, Guide by Cell’s GPS Wayfinder uses Google Maps’ API to mark your cultural institution’s exhibits or points of interest. Using GPS Wayfinder visitors can see all stops or exhibits nearby as pins on a map. They can then use Google’s navigation to easily find the point of interest. 

By tapping on the Google Map pin, they are directed to a mobile page with additional content — text, images, audio, video or any kind of file. It’s that simple!

The service is available at a fraction of the cost of expensive beacon technology.

Call Guide by Cell at 415-615-0150 or email [email protected] to learn how!


So Much More Than An Audio Guide

apps, audio guide, beacon, fundraising fundraising, GPS, Mobile smartphone tours, smartphone tours, SMS

Guide by Cell’s suite of services offers so much more than simple audio guides for your cultural institution. From on-demand content creation to communication via text message with distribution lists or individual visitors, to audio, interactive and GPS-based tours, no other company provides as many different services.

  • Smartphone mobile tours
  • Location-based GPS tours
  • Dial-in cell phone audio guide
  • Text message communication platform: send and receive alerts with rich media or communicate directly with users
  • Custom-built mobile apps
  • Beacon technology
  • Augmented reality
  • Scavenger hunts and games
  • Handheld device solutions
  • On-demand content creation
  • Mobile fundraising licensed provider with Mobile Giving Foundation

See how we compare to our competitors with this comprehensive guide.

Email Guide by Cell at [email protected] or call us at 415-615-0150 to set up a free demo.

Why Most Institutions Choose Mobile Websites Over Apps for Visitor Tours

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If you’re looking to enhance visitors’ experience to your museum, zoo, park or other cultural institution, you will compare using a mobile website that does not require a download and a downloadable app. From a distance, the two may present a similar service: a way to engage visitors with exhibit information, floor plans, feedback requests and more.

Both apps and mobile websites are accessed on mobile phones and tablets. And both can be highly engaging. But that’s where the similarities end. From visitors’ accessibility, to your adaptability and cost to maintain, mobile websites should serve as your first priority to improve visitor engagement.

Mobile websites function like traditional websites but are more responsive; they scale down on smaller screens while still displaying the same information clearly. They can display the same information as any other site, including text, rich media like audio and video, images; virtually any digital content.

The difference between a mobile website and an app

Mobile websites remove a crucial barrier to the dissemination of information: they don’t require users to download an app’s why a mobile website is the best choice if you’re looking to share mobile-friendly content to as many visitors as possible. If your communication goals include marketing efforts, a mobile website is also the practical choice for an outreach strategy.

Advantages of a mobile website over an app:

  • A mobile site is always available without a download and set-up.Mobile websites are compatible across all devices, ensuring your visitors receive a universal experience. For example, before or after a visit the mobile site can be viewed on a computer, which is not  possible with an app.
  • Statistics on every user behavior are easily obtained in a real-time dashboard.
  • Mobile sites can easily be shared with visitors and other stakeholders. A cultural institution can disseminate links by text message, email, QR codes and on social media. Your museum can share the URL by including it on printed signs that are posted inside the institution, or on your blog and main website. All visitors need to do is click a link that is sent to them, send a text message to opt in and receive the link, or enter the link in their smartphone browser.
  • If, like most cultural institutions, your exhibits change regularly, you can easily update content on a mobile website without needing the help of an IT team. Website content can be altered in minutes. Changing design is also easy and seamless. With Guide by Cell, all you need to do is drag and drop various features and types of content. No coding experience is required.
  • Because you don’t need IT personnel to edit mobile websites, they are inherently much faster and cheaper to produce and maintain. Properly updating apps includes expensive testing and dealing with compatibility problems. Mobile web sites can be launched same day.

Finally,  studies show that the typical lifecycle of an app is one month. That means that your visitors will remove it from their smartphones following their visit. Your mobile website, however, will always remain, allowing you to communicate with your visitors long past their first visit.

Guide by Cell clients typically use our mobile website platform in conjunction with an SMS platform or an audio tour, giving their visitors the widest array of engagement enhancements. Visitors have the option to call a local number or use in-house equipment to access audio, text in a shortcode to be directed to a mobile site, or text to communicate with museum staff when docents are not available.

Learn more about Guide by Cell’s suite of services in a personal, free demo.

Hear from a Bruce Museum Visitor and Employee

Listen to interviews about the benefits of using Guide by Cell from a museum visitor and employee perspective. Journalist Jerry Kay talks to a local museum-goer, Bob Donnalley, and the Bruce Museum New Media Developer Mary Ann Lendenmann about the ease of using the technology and how it has enhanced the visitor experience.

Find out why museum visitors love tours using Guide by Cell, and why the Bruce Museum uses Guide by Cell services at most of its exhibitions.

Texas Museum Records Actors for Guide By Cell Audio Tour


Mayborn Museum, Waco, Baylor, audio guide, audio tour, mobile tour

The Mayborn Museum Complex at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, was already a longtime Guide by Cell client when, in 2012, the museum added a new exhibit of historic buildings. The turn-of-the-century structures were moved from a different part of the state.

Along with the exhibit, the museum added about 10 information stations, giving guests the ability to call a local number or scan a QR code and hear a recorded message (the museum hired child actors to perform on the recordings) with information about the life of the times.

“It’s a nice addition to our galleries. People really enjoy getting more information,” said Rebecca Nall, the museum’s communications lead. Besides the newer exhibit, the museum now has about 50-such information stations throughout its natural science and cultural history exhibits.

Mayborn Museum, Waco, Baylor, audio guide, audio tour, mobile tour

Filoli Estates: Enhancing Visitor Experience with Text Messaging and Mobile Website Engagement

Filoli Estates came to us earlier in 2016. The cultural institution and botanical garden wanted to increase visitor engagement, saw technology as the answer, but soon realized that it couldn’t depend on its weak internet connectivity in a rural section of the San Francisco Bay. That’s when Filoli discovered Guide by Cell and the power of text messaging-powered engagement (SMS).

The institution had an upcoming festival, its largest of the year, and wanted a solution in place to engage hundreds of visitors to participate in dozens of daily activities at the festival.

“The ability to use someone’s own phone [text messaging] was very attractive,” said Beth Lau, Filoli Estates Marketing and Communications Manager. “The simplicity of the Guide by Cell platform made it a great option for us.”

The organization also wanted to speed up its response times to visitor inquiries, even if the visitors were on-site, perusing exhibits. It wanted a tech-infused solution to show its guests how it had grown and improve visitors’ understanding of the facility’s exhibits and cultural significance during its ongoing centennial celebration.

“We do things with a focus on our visitors and don’t want to cause any frustration,” Lau said. “We want to facilitate information to guests as seamlessly as possible.”

All this had to be accomplished without alienating docent volunteers, who could have viewed technology as a threat, a replacement to their contributions.

Filoli Estates subscribed to a Guide by Cell suite of services that included Audio Guides, Text Messaging, Visitor Feedback and Mobile Fundraising. Prior to the fall festival, the organization emailed ticket-holders, informing them about the text message opt-in option. The email had a 72-percent opt-in rate, receiving over 200 SMS sign-ups prior to the event. Onsite, signs and cards handed out by docents directed attendees to text “PUMPKIN” to a number and receive updates about activities and news. Over 600 people participated in total, during the event day.

Afterward, Filoli distributed a survey by text message, increasing engagement further. The event marked  Filoli Estates’ first mobile engagement activity of any kind. In coming months Filoli will evaluate other needs for Guide by Cell solutions. One identified project, targeted for spring 2017, is a fundraising campaign.

Although the organization contracted with Guide by Cell for a specific visitor-centric set of services, it found flexibility and ease of use in the platform, and decided to test it for internal volunteer and docent training purposes, such as an audio and mobile tour targetted at first-time visitors to the facility. Lau created a dial-in message, explaining how best to begin an experience. That transitioned to a text-to-learn-more tour of exhibits. The tour led to a mobile website with multifunctionality. “The mobile platform is great for photos and additional info,” Lau said. ”You can adjust it to be new every week. The platform is easy to learn and adjust to your needs.”

Volunteers and docents enjoyed the experience, and understood that Guide by Cell will increase the opportunities for visitors to learn without replacing their valuable contributions. “This enhances the visitor experience,” Lau said. “Our docents know the history of the place. Guide by Cell allows visitors to go deeper into a subject. We think this will be seamless for our visitors, because they use this technology elsewhere.”

Traditionally, Filoli Estates prefers to partner with local companies. But if Guide by Cell was located across the country, the service would have been just as easy to onboard and get started, Lau said.

Filoli Estates is quickly realizing that several of its departments can benefit from Guide by Cell solutions,  including development, interpretation, membership, guest services, finance and fundraising, garden and horticulture, curation, and marketing. When used together, the services can tell a complete narrative about the history and future of the institution.