Self-guided audio tour features 29 South Beach destinations by Susan R. Miller
For those who want to know more about the history of Miami Beach’s Art Deco hotels, restaurants and theaters, or even where the chainsaw massacre scene was filmed for the movie “Scarface,” a couple of South Florida entrepreneurs have the answer.
Miami Beach attorney Matthew Krieger and former restaurateur Jacky Korn recently launched Discovery Miami Beach, a self-guided audio tour that features 29 South Beach destinations. What sets this tour apart, they say, is that it can be taken at your leisure by foot, bike, car or bus.
The company has teamed with DecoBike, Miami Beach’s bike sharing program; Big Bus Tours; and the Miami Design Preservation League.
The duo isn’t new to the business. In 1999, Krieger founded Playground Maps, a company that creates colorful, custom-made destination maps. Korn, who previously owned Q Lounge in Aventura, and was a chef and investor in Vizio Café in North Miami Beach, joined Krieger in 2006. Their other company, Puerto Rico Experience Tour, provides audio tours for the national zoo and Camuy Caves in San Juan, catering to about 750,000 visitors a year.
“We brought it to Miami, since this is our backyard,” Krieger said.
The $500,000 investment paid for the equipment (each audio player costs $250), production, staffing and marketing. But it’s their relationships with area locals that have proven to be priceless.
The Design Preservation League, which provides its own walking tours staffed by volunteers, has played a key role in Discovery Miami Beach’s creation.
It lent the company its experts and historical background information for the production of the audio tour. In exchange, it will receive a portion of the profits, league Chairman Charlie Urstadt said, though both he and Krieger declined to say how much.
“We made available a lot of public figures and people who have been around South Beach for a long time, and we offered to make sure their script was historically accurate,” Urstadt said.
Insiders get involved
“Their [tour] has more of a pop culture aspect to it,” Urstadt said. “The history of Miami Beach is filled with all sorts of fun stuff, from the shady to the emerging culture we have witnessed in the last few years. Their plan is to capture all of that.”
Discovery Miami Beach opened up shop at the league’s Art Deco Welcome Center at 1001 Ocean Drive.
Krieger said they have 1,000 audio players, and as many as 500 a day are rented.
Julia Conway, CEO of Big Bus Tours in Miami, which provides open-top, double-decker sightseeing buses, makes the audio tours available to passengers for free.
“It’s a value add to our product,” said Conway, who noted Discovery provides Big Bus Tours with a “blockbuster rate,” though she declined to detail the financial relationship.
The audio tour is “more robust than what we can do while we are in motion,” Conway said. “It’s more of an emersion.”
About 50 percent of her customers take advantage of the tour. But, she said, “we haven’t even scratched the surface of marketing.”
Discovery Miami Beach also has a “cross-promotional relationship” with DecoBike, said Colbert Reese, the company’s chief marketing officer.
“We discounted our rate and packaged it with Discovery,” he said. “You get a better deal if you rent our bikes.”