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CEO Andrew Mason hopes an open marketplace for tours will help people see a different side of their cities — and their neighborhood businesses.

Audio App Detour Plans To Let Local Businesses Help Lead Walking Tours

| 9:01 am

Detour’s app-based audio tours connect individuals with local area, such as San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Detour, a mobile audio tour app, is rolling out a major expansion to their current selection of tours, adding in new cities around the world like Berlin, Barcelona, London, Paris, and Marrakesh.

The bigger moves, however, will come next year, says Detour CEO Andrew Mason, formerly the head of digital deals platform Groupon.

Next year, the company is planning a program that will allow anyone to create and host their own tours on the Detour app. Detour will not be a simple database of tours created by users. Instead it will function more like a marketplace where people and businesses can sell their tours for a small amount of money.

Detour currently provides tours only in San Francisco, but is planning on adding New York as well. Users are guided by GPS and iBeacon systems through a tour of a particular neighborhood, usually with a theme such as the Beat Poets or the history of Hip Hop. The narrators are pulled from the local neighborhood being toured. DJ Jazzy J narrates a tour of South Bronx and Sopranos actor Vinny Vella guides users through Little Italy.

From a marketing perspective, the possibilities it offers local businesses to be discovered in an organic way through these guided tours. When Detour opens up its marketplace to others, it could have locals or food critics give tours of their favorite places to eat. In other cases, small towns could offer tours of historic and public sites of interest, and entire bar crawls could be organized through the app’s group syncing feature.

Mason insists that their tours are not designed to check off a list of tourist traps, but rather to help people discover the hidden side of the cities they live in. This could be valuable for businesses that don’t benefit from being well-known tourist-y locations or don’t have large advertising budgets.

Detour is all about “getting you out into the world and putting you in new places,” says Mason. With the opening of the digital tour marketplace, finding those new places is going to be a lot easier.