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Hummba: Virtual guides anywhere, anytime

An online audio and text guide shop may not be the most innovative idea, but having content easily available on mobile application anywhere in the world may just beat having a tour guide. If anything, according to its founder, it eliminates the need for one.

This seems to be the thinking behind, a company planning to afford the resources of a personal tour guide to any user anywhere in the world.

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Founder Mark Allewel says the company’s flagship product, Tourism Radio, is a GPS driven information station for tourists. “We tell you all about the area you are travelling through and draw your attention to prominent landmarks and highlights as you approach them so you don’t miss anything”.

Essentially, “Tourism Radio offers tourists unique insight in the areas that they are travelling in or through, without having the hassle of a tour guide with them”, claims Allewel.

The device, developed with the help of Masters’ students from the University of Cape Town, is a simple set of components that track where you are travelling, playing information about that area as you pass through it.

Hummba is the platform for the Tourism Radio city guides, a program aimed at self-drive tourists wanting to travel without a guide, but with the full travel experience.

“The iPhone and mobile application incorporates the basis of technology that Tourism Radio runs on, thus allowing the App user to download location based guides that trigger when the user is in the area”, explains Allewell.

“The app also includes location based social sharing tools like, seeing where your friends are travellers, uploading location based post cards and creating routes for your friends to see where you have travelled.”

The current shareholders include the original founder, Mark Allewell and German angel investors who purchased the company. Tourism Radio was originally started in Cape Town, South Africa in 2005, by the current CEO Mark Allewell.

Following 18 months of research and development, Hummba was purchased by a German angel investor after a broadcast was shown on the Discovery Channel. The initial group of local South African angel investors included top fashion-retail store YDE founder Paul Simon.

The company’s start-up features include audio based travel guides, a function called Footprints, which allows a user to create routes and tag multiple pictures and Breadcrumbs for users who take a single picture and have is tagged to the place they are visiting.

The company does have an international strategy, with little hesitation in discussing it. Hummba has offices in Cape Town, Barcelona and Auckland and is rolling out the Tourism Radio concept throughout Australia in September 2012, followed by the US West Coast in January 2013.

“Our goal for is to create a large location based guide platform, so that it becomes a one stop shop for mobile guides. Tourism Radio guides will sit on this platform as premium guides,” says Allewell.

Tourism Radio has competition in Cape Town with Great Guide providing the same service. In New Zealand, they have Kruse as the biggest stumbling block to gaining a large share of the market.

The company is working towards a five year goal build on two points: serving as the leading location-based travel App store and having Tourism Radio devices in all markets across the world.

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