Andrew Mason, founder and former CEO of Groupon, is attempting a comeback in the high tech world with his new app for tourists, Detour. The walking tour app is now available for download.
The new app is currently free for download in the Apple App Store, but tours can be purchased for $5. An annual subscription goes for $20.
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Mason told TechCrunch, “On the one hand, we think tourists will pay a lot more for a walking tour. But locals have a lot of options, and we want price to get out of the way… We don’t want to give people a reason to not try Detour.”
On current similar tour services he said, “Most of the audio tours that exist today are about what’s popular inside museums. What we are trying to do is turn the world into a museum.”
Mason has a lot to prove, after being dumped from the company that he created. After a blockbuster IPO in 2011, the 34 year old son of a Jewish family from Pennsylvania was fired by Groupon’s board in 2013 because of poor performance and low revenues.
Now Mason is using some of the $400 million he took with him for his share of Groupon to launch the new endeavor.
There is nothing new about pre-recorded audio tours. Museums everywhere have them and so do many cities around the world. But Detour brings walking tours into the Twenty First Century.
For example, a group of people will be able to sync the same tour over multiple mobile devices by way of Bluetooth. The GPS integration will eliminate the need for someone to select a different recording for different locations — the app will do this automatically.
The plan is also to offer more detailed and personalized guided tours from people who are experts on a certain area or who actually live there, including celebrities. For example, the San Francisco tour will feature Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow talking about his favorite restaurants and radio host Ninna Gaensler-Debs describing the North Beach and Chinatown neighborhoods.
Right now the service only exists in the San Francisco Bay Area. But Detour plans to soon expand into other areas.