CASE STUDY
TourStream
VERTICALS
Digital Transformation
SERVICES
Product Strategy
Product Management
Product Development

When travels experts partner with technology experts, industries get reinvented

Have you ever paid handsomely for a guided tour, then spent the whole time struggling to enjoy a clunky, outdated, hard-to-hear experience? TourStream set out to delight eager travelers like you by empowering guides to provide effortless expertise and real-time recommendations via the best available device — your own phone.

Client

TourStream is transforming the tourism industry through the intelligent application of mobile technologies. By enabling rich and effortless two-way interaction between guides and groups, TourStream revolutionizes the guided tour experience — and delivers the kind of delight that generates enthusiastic word of mouth.

Given our extensive experience with the tourism industry and our previous attempts at developing a solution, we have always been confident that a cutting-edge technology architecture combined with guide – and tourist-focused features would put us in the driver’s seat to change this industry.

Brent Burton, CEO, TourStream

Challenge

TourStream knew that group tourism was ripe for a reset. While taking a tour with an expert guide can be a treasured travel experience, group tour technology — picture a bunch of rather battered radio headsets — had fallen far behind user expectations.

Why should tour guides have to laboriously charge, clean, and repair outdated radio headsets that tourists hate to wear? TourStream envisioned a bring-your-own device solution to delight groups and guides alike. Rather than clunky, one-way communication, what if:

  • Guides and groups could utilize tourists’ own mobile devices, and tourists could hear the tour clearly at all times using their own earbuds or headphones?
  • Guides could share their expertise verbally — but also by texting, sharing photos, and dropping map pins or sharing promotional discounts for destinations like restaurants that might interest tour members?
  • Tourists could ask questions, share their own photos, pause to make a quick reservation at that recommended restaurant, and effortlessly reward their guide with a tip and a great review?

Enabling guides and their guests to leverage sophisticated, two-way mobile technology during tours is a clear winner. But while TourStream was an expert in the world of tourism, the company had little technology experience. In fact, they had already tried to develop the mobile app they knew would set a new bar for modern group tour experiences — but their technology partner failed them.

Now, the startup needed to carefully steward remaining budgets in order to find the path to success. After considering their options, TourStream asked Altus Nova to guide them in the creation of a rational product roadmap, developing a software culture, surviving as a cash-strapped startup, and approaching investors with an impressive minimum viable product (MVP).

Discovery

TourStream’s detailed knowledge of group tourism helped the Altus Nova team leap forward with a list of app capabilities required to surpass the radio headset status quo. TourStream needed the most guidance in establishing a sound technological approach to building apps that would serve guides and tourists with a great experience for each. The apps must be:

  • Easy. Tourists must be able to quickly install the app on their own phones, despite varying devices and operating systems. Meanwhile, the startup’s roadmap required a minimum viable codebase to avoid double-development costs for separate iOS (Swift) and Android (Kotlin) solutions.
  • Automated. The apps must enable a private broadcast from the guide to the group, and it must join paying members to their tour automatically — skipping the part where time-pressed tour guides must help tourists connect their phones to a wireless network — and all without requiring internet connectivity.

After a comprehensive evaluation, Altus Nova recommended developing TourStream’s applications as a single codebase written in ReactNative with Microsoft Azure for back-end capabilities and Kurento as the WebRTC platform.

With the confidence of a rock-solid technological architecture, TourStream was ready to build the product. Altus Nova quickly developed a working MVP mobile app for both guides and tourists to prove that an enriched experience was not only possible — but that a BYOD solution would be preferrable for both guides and their guests.

Method

Altus Nova chose technologies for TourStream based on cost, presence, and ease of use. Each aspect of the technology architecture was vetted as a fit for today’s business requirements, and as a catalyst with the power to set TourStream up for future growth.


Why ReactNative for App Development:

  • Ease: ReactNative is a “modern” front-end development language with significant momentum and readily available developers.
  • Efficiency: ReactNative allows for the creation of high-performance native apps without having to build and maintain separate codebases.
  • Fit: ReactNative supports access to the mobile device APIs including wifi configuration to enable automated reconnection for tour members
  • Bottom line: ReactNative offers the right combination of capabilities, support for required features, and industry momentum for TourStream to invest with confidence.

Why Kurento for WebRTC Capabilities:

  • Ease: Kurento is an actively maintained WebRTC that is simple to set up, configure, and deploy — and that has strong documentation and active community support
  • Efficiency: Kurento provided access to the source code to make any required customizations for stability.
  • Fit: Compared with other WebRTCs tested, Kurento offers better stability with the number of connections per device required by TourStream.

Bottom line: Kurento is the stable, easy to set up, and best-supported “out of the box” option with an ability to customize as needed.

Why Microsoft Azure for Cloud Capabilities:

  • Ease: Microsoft Azure was the existing cloud platform TourStream was already using.
  • Efficiency: Some of the infrastructure already deployed to Microsoft Azure could be reused for the second generation TourStream solution.
  • Fit: Microsoft Azure proved comparable to Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in both capability and cost.

Bottom line: Microsoft Azure offers the right capabilities and, as the solution in place, offered critical efficiencies to help stretch the budget.

Experience

Tourstream needed two apps: One designed especially for the guides who conduct tours, and one for the group members who join those tours. Our designers put together elegantly simple flows that would enable even the busiest guides and distracted tourists to connect.

Now, guides can create tour products, manage each group, and communicate with group members with much less unpaid time and effort spent maintaining equipment.

Tourists can readily connect with their tour, pause their tour, offer their guide a tip, and even complete a review while the tour is still top of mind.

As our technology partner of choice, Altus Nova is helping us to gain competitive advantage when it comes to group tour preferences – TourStream now has the leading solution to drive Guide and Tourist interactions at a level of engagement never before achieved.

Caleb Fox, CTO, TourStream

Tour Guide App

Technologies

Design

Figma

Integrations
  • Kurento WebRTC
  • Stripe
Deployment
  • Azure Pipelines
Front End
  • ReactNative
  • Material UI
Back End
  • Microsoft Azure Cloud
  • Azure SQL DB
  • Azure App Service
  • Azure Active Directory B2C
  • Azure Key Vault

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