We reached an important milestone last Friday: 1,000 published tours. Friday was also our ninth birthday, coincidentally – but also usefully, because it reminded us that this took some doing.
Our tours now cover some 30,000 locations in well over 300 destinations, and our scripts add up to a fraction under 5.5 million words. If you started listening to all of our audio now, beginning with a Chao Phraya ferry ride published in June 2014, you’d still be listening halfway through March, more than 600 hours later.
I say “our tours”, “our scripts” and “our audio” because we reached all of these milestones in partnership with our publishers. There are 527 of you at the moment – but the 100 or so with at least three published tours are responsible for almost half of our 1,000 tours. Lynn Momboisse is our most prolific publisher, with 20, and there are another 35 of you with five or more tours.
Our Head of Content, Gary, has been working with our publishers since tour 245, and he’s played some part in every tour since then. It’s this human relationship – between a VoiceMap editor and a tour publisher – that is central to what we do. It’s why we reached 20,000 ratings six times faster than we reached 10,000, and why the average rating went up at the same time, to over 4.6 out of 5 stars. It’s also why publishers start on their second, third or tenth tour: they’re excited by our growth and their expanding audience, but when we ask, they mostly say that while producing remarkable tours is time consuming, they enjoy the process.
It’s easier than it used to be. The set of tools we now call Mapmaker was so barebones when we went live in 2014 that you could only just get the job done. But from the beginning, publishers worked with editors, and we started gathering feedback. We used that feedback to prioritise nine years of continuous improvement – and we still use it today. You’ll find an overview of some of the most recent upgrades and additions to Mapmaker later in this newsletter.
Nine years is a long time, but the majority of our older tours are still surprisingly fresh – and most of them sell better now than ever. That might be because the world changes more slowly than we sometimes feel it does, especially when we scroll through endless feeds of anything new. But it’s also because there are rewards for craft, consistency and putting things in context.