An idea to revolutionize how people visit archaeological sites
I'm Maya Exploration Center’s Director, Archaeologist Dr. Ed Barnhart, and I plan to develop a new series of apps for mobile devices that will allow tourists to hold a world class tour guide right in the palm of their hand.
These site specific travel apps will use the GPS capability of all mobile devices to guide their users around the ruins in a fun and interactive way. Users will be able to ask, “where am I?”, or “bring me to this temple”, or “where should I go from here?”. The app will have a whole host of information about each building or feature of the site available as text or audio files narrated by my voice. Is a temple roped off and access restricted? This app will have photos of what’s inside! Interactive features such as incorporating a user’s own photos and videos will make the app a valuable scrapbook long after the visit and social media sharing features will let users share their experience in real time.
The first of these apps to be developed will be called TULUM and it will focus on the Maya Riviera ruins of the same name. Advertised with a billboard in front of the ruins and brochures in Maya Riviera resorts and hotels, TULUM will be downloaded and used by a significant percentage of the over one million people who visit the site annually. Distributed through Apple’s ubiquitous iTunes online Store, access will be easy and available from virtually anywhere on the planet. Tulum’s 4G cellular data coverage and free wifi at the visitor center will make downloading the app a snap.
And by the way, you don't need to visit Tulum to enjoy this app. It will be so full of information that it will be a like a whole e-book about Tulum in your pocket.
If you would like to see the full business plan, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
What We Need & What You Get
I've already contributed two months of research and $1000 to get the app developers I hired started. The development schedule is a short 9 weeks, so TULUM should be ready to launch by April.
The start up costs I need total $15,200. That includes $9,000 for the app developers I've hired to build the app, $500 to buy the rights to specific photos and drawings, $2400 for three logistics trips to Tulum (scouting, mid-beta test, and final launch test), and $3300 for the first two months of advertising through brochures, tourist magazines and a rented billboard. After the first two months of sales, the app will be able to pay the advertising costs on its own.
If we over shoot the funding goal, I will use it to increase the advertising scope with another billboard and more ads in tourism info magazines. Anything left from the campaign after that will be donated to Maya Exploration Center.
If we under shoot the funding goal, I'll take what we've been able to raise and find another way to fund the rest. Anyone who knows me knows that I will find a way to make this app a reality.
The start-up costs for developing TULUM are modest, the upkeep of the product is minimal and the distribution is virtually free. Once launched, proceeds from app sales will go to developing more site specific apps and Maya Exploration Center, a non-profit research and education institution that’s been teaching the general public about the ancient Maya and supporting the modern Maya communities for a decade. When you contribute to the development of the TULUM app, you’re contributing to the appreciation of Maya civilization - past, present and future.
You can contribute as little as $1 and help get the buzz going, but the more you contribute the more you get. I've made the contribution levels all important Maya numbers just for fun. If you wonder why that number is important, contribute it and ask me to explain!
I'm offering my 2013 Mayan Calendar wall calendar, MEC t-shirts, Maya astronomy books, and MEC annual memberships as some of the perks, but the largest contributor category will recieve an expenses paid adventure to Tulum to help me test the app live for the first time! Their feedback will go into the final version and they will be named in the app as its patrons.
The average tourist who visits Tulum with a desire to learn about its temples and history currently has two options. They could walk around by themselves or hire a guide. If they walk around by themselves, they can read the few weather-worn plaques in front of the major structures but they end up leaving with the impression that Tulum is an interesting pile of rocks. They could hire a guide, but that will cost them $70 for two hours and they’ll hear mostly stories and myths about the site. The TULUM app will be a third alternative, one that costs only 99¢ and provides them with more information than they could find anywhere else.
The TULUM app will also serve as a pilot program, to find out what works and what its users would like to see more or less of. The next site specific apps will incorporate those suggestions to make an even better product. Ultimately, the goal is to make an entire series of apps, letting people be their own guide in a multitude of archaeological sites!
Other Ways You Can HelpEven if you can't contribute, you can be a huge help by spreading the word. Just by sharing it on your Facebook page, clicking "like", or even telling your mailman about it. Word of mouth makes great things happen these days.
President, Ahau Travel, LLC