The Wav of the future: Audio tours via cell phone

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

WavBall tourism information service is now available at five local historic sites.

Here's how it works: Signs are posted with a toll-free number visitors can call from their cell phones to hear audio descriptions of the places they're visiting.

During the Independence Day weekend, WavBall provided audio tours at the Cape River Heritage Museum, Glenn House, Fort D, Old St. Vincent Church and the Red House Interpretive Center.

The service is free to visitors, but the company's owners, father and son Steve and Jonathan Fritzler of Cape Girardeau, hope to sell advertising to local businesses. An ad message can be played as part of the audio tour.

This past weekend's service at local historic sites, which all offered free admission for the July 4 weekend, is the first test of WavBall's new product.

Some sites, such as the River Heritage Museum and Old St. Vincent Church, have outside tours as well as inside tours available. Audio tours range from one-and-a-half to three minutes each.

The company is currently working on an audio tour to accompany the River Heritage Murals along the Mississippi River floodwall.

The Fritzlers plan to market the new service to parks and museums as well.

For more information, call 579-2690.

* Local company creates church index: Hendrickson Business Advisors has created a Faith Perceptions Church Index for benchmarking worship experiences.

The Cape Girardeau company designed the Faith Perceptions program for churches based on the consulting firm's mystery shopping program for businesses. It sends in "undercover" mystery guests each Sunday.

"When a business is losing market share, we use mystery shoppers to better understand the customer experience," said Jennifer Hendrickson, president of Hendrickson Business Advisors. "When a church or denomination is struggling to grow its congregation, we send in mystery guests to better understand the Sunday morning experience."

More than 40 churches have used Faith Perceptions to better understand what a first-time visitor thinks and feels when he attends a church service. Fifteen measurement criteria are evaluated on each visit, and more than 400 visits have been made. Now that a sufficient number of churches have participated, Faith Perceptions has an index that aggregates all the church data compiled to date. This index has also been segmented by congregation size so that each church can compare itself against a peer group of like size.

Faith Perceptions is administered through the Faith Perceptions website (www.faithperceptions.com). Nearly 1,000 individuals have registered to make undercover visits. Faith Perceptions generally uses "unchurched" applicants who do not attend church on a regular basis, thus ensuring an unbiased opinion.

Hendrickson Business Advisors is a management and marketing consulting working with businesses and churches throughout the United States.

* Lifeway announces grand opening events: The new Lifeway Christian Store in Cape Girardeau will celebrate its grand opening Saturday through Aug. 7. Special promotions will include appearances by the popular VeggieTales' character Larry-Boy as well as Max Lucado's Hermie the Caterpillar.

The 4,462-square-foot Lifeway Christian Store features Christian music, gifts, Bibles, books, children's products and church supplies. Michael Wilson will serve as manager for the new store.

The Cape Girardeau store is one of five Lifeway Christian Stores in Missouri and one of 157 stores the chain operates in 26 states. The store is near the corner of William Street and Siemers Drive in front of Walmart and will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

VeggieTales' character Larry-Boy will greet customers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Max Lucado's Hermie the Caterpillar will be at the store from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 24.

Lifeway Christian Stores are owned and operated by Lifeway Christian Resources. The organization has headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.

* CVB sponsors Cape Splash blog contest: The Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau and Cape Splash Family Aquatic Center are teaming up with a blog posting contest offering local moms a chance to win four-packs of tickets to the new water park.

Rules for the contest, called Very Important Moms (VIMs) Love Cape Splash, can be found on the VisitCape.com blog.

While I was director of the Spencer County Visitors Bureau in Santa Claus, Ind., home of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, I worked with lots of "mommy bloggers," so I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to judge the VIM contest entries.

To enter, you must have a blog with at least 10 posts, must write a blog post of three paragraphs or more about a previous trip to Cape Splash and must include at least one photo from your Cape Splash trip. You may include video or links to video of your trip, but it is not necessary to enter.

For more details, call the Cape Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-777-0068.

* New mobile dog groomer: Ashley Hahs opened Zoomin' Groomer Mobile Dog Salon on Monday.

Zoomin' Groomer is the area's only fully self-contained dog salon on wheels, offering complete dog grooming services at your doorstep, Hahs said.

"I'm thrilled to offer dog owners an option for grooming their dogs that doesn't involve a trip to the salon." she said. "Zoomin' Groomer offers the convenience of doorstep service while giving your furry friend personalized, one-on-one care in a stress-free environment."

For more information or to make an appointment, call 334-9666.

Southeast Missourian business reporter Melissa Miller may be contacted at 388-3646 or mmiller@semissourian.com.

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