If you remember my video interview  in May with Sarah Towle of Time Traveler Tours (TTT), you know I am a HUGE fan of her app, Beware Madame La Guillotine – a Paris walking tour narrated by a real-life woman of the French Revolution. Now the World Youth and Student Travel Conference has recognized the brilliance of this app by nominating it as a finalist in the App Yap contest. If TTT wins the contest, it will be a huge boon to Sarah’s vision to bring many more of these apps to tweens and teens in the future. These iPhone apps put history, art, and culture in the palm of kids’ hands – literally.

I would love to see TTT win this contest, so I asked Sarah to come back on the blog, tell us a bit more about the contest, what it would mean for TTT if she wins, how she has been marketing the contest and the latest news on TTT. Welcome back, Sarah!

Can you tell us about the App Yap contest and how BmlG was nominated?

The World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) created the App Yap Contest as a way to identify, from over 17,000 travel apps on the market, the best ones suited for youth and student travelers.

Apps are entered into the contest by the developer with a demonstration video and short description of content and purpose. A panel of six judges then chooses 10 finalists from among those apps entered.

I was thrilled to discover that Time Traveler Tours was selected for Beware Mme la Guillotine, A Revolutionary Tour of Paris. All of the other finalists are utilities or social networking tools. BMLG is the only finalist with narrative storytelling at its core.

How are winners chosen?

After the judges – five professionals from the youth and student travel industry plus last year’s contest winner – select the 10 finalists, the judging is turned over to YOU, the public. That’s when it’s up to us, the finalists, to crowd-source as many votes for our own app as we possibly can. This is the phase we’re in right now.

The public voting ends Aug 31st when the final decision reverts to the six-person judging panel once again. The finalist with the most public votes will earn one vote and therefore go into the final judging phase with an advantage.

In the final phase, starting Sept 1st, the judges will review each app more closely, looking not simply at design, ease of use, features and functionality, but also at the app’s content, its relevance and fit with the youth and student travel market and accessibility on a global scale. They are also looking at the developer’s potential for growth and entrepreneurialism.

What would it mean for TTT if you win this contest?

A 1st place win would be a HUGE boon for the TTT. The 5KEUR prize money would help to fund the next round of technical development necessary to extend the concept beyond Paris and offer historical story tours to locations worldwide. In addition, the winner receives a ton of free marketing. With “discoverability” being the biggest challenge for app publishers of all shapes and sizes, you can’t put a value on the benefit such publicity would bring.

To be honest though, the ‘winning’ has already begun for Time Traveler Tours as a result of being named a finalist in the App Yap Contest. I’ve been invited to guest post, and have already been published, on several travel-related blogs. Also as a result of the exposure the contest has brought me, I’ve been approached by another entity interested in a potential business partnership.

As a finalist, I am invited to attend the WYSTC annual conference as a guest. That’s when the App Yap winner will be announced. You bet I’ll be there to shake hands and hand out cards and generally shout from the rooftops all that’s worth shouting about the Time Traveler Tours products and concept.

So whether or not Time Traveler Tours makes it to #1 – and I hope it does – I feel I’ve already won by virtue of the marketing opportunity participation in this contest has afforded us.

Writers are always looking for marketing/promotion ideas. What cool things have you done to promote TTT in this contest?

Besides guest blogging and posting to facebook and relevant LinkedIn groups, tweeting the news and being retweeted by others, I’m also using the fact of my traveling to the conference to put together a stateside tour of school visits and regional SCBWI workshops. So far I have gigs set up in CA and DC in late Sept, TN in late Oct, and the NYC-area in early Nov.

I will be speaking to middle and high school classes about French history and culture; to teachers’ groups about using technology in the classroom; and to writers’ groups about all issues related to making apps.

If any of you would like me to come speak to your class, colleagues or writers’ group, please contact me at: stowle@timetravelertours.com. Don’t delay! I need to lock in my flight arrangements very soon.

As of this writing, TTT was in second place. What is needed to throw you over the top?

More votes! Team TTT has been uber supportive, voting repeatedly and sharing the link with followers and friends. But we continue to trail the app currently leading the charge by about 200 votes. I reckon we’d need about 400 votes to best them at this point. Which, if you think about it, isn’t too far outside the realm of possibility – if each of you reading this post votes once a day for the next seven days, and ensured that three of your friends/followers do the same, we might just make it!

I know from my own experience with a “win with votes” contest, it can be exhausting. How are you holding up?

You’re right – it IS exhausting! You have to be very creative about where and how you ask so as not to exhaust the good graces of your friends and followers as well. And unfortunately, the timing hasn’t been great for me, as I have been traveling throughout the month of August. In fact, I’m on vacation in England with my family right now. As we’re traveling, we can’t always find access to the Internet, which has made this effort even more challenging. All of Europe, where I live, is on vacation right now and I’m aware that several of my usual supporters have gone off the grid for the month and therefore know nothing of the contest.

Given all this, I decided from the get-go that I would do what I can and hope for the best; that I would send out the word where and how I could and not stress out about it. It’s important to have a certain level of detachment with these things or you’ll go mad.

Nonetheless, I’ve been thrilled to see our vote count rise daily. That’s in large part thanks to folks like you, dear Julie, who are helping to promote the cause with me. I am truly grateful for your support.

How/where can people vote? Can they vote more than once?

Yes! You can vote every 24 hours. I hope you will. There’s one week left. So if you start today, that’s seven more votes for the TTT. The only rub is that you need to have a facebook account in order to vote. If you do, it’s easy-peasy. Two clicks, followed by a quick call to action to your FB friends, and you’re done. Click Here to Vote TTT.

Any other exciting TTT news you could share with us today?

Oh my, yes. Let’s see, there’s the potential partnership I hinted at above – but I can’t say anything more about that yet. And the biggest news: Beware Mme la Guillotine will soon come out as an iBook with our next story, Day of the Dead, A Spectral Saunter through Napoleon’s Paris, slated to come in this format in early 2013. We’re also in development with story tours to Amsterdam, Boston, various Italian locations, and the Versailles gardens. Very exciting!

I would really love to see TTT win this contest. To prove it, I am going to reward my readers for voting. You can vote once per day from now until August 31st – 7 days. You can vote and tweet to enter and win, and you can do both each day. Good luck!

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Categories: Apps, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, Giveaway, Guest Blogging, Storybook Apps, Travel, Travel Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. I already bought this app and think it’s super cool. Best of luck Sarah.

  2. I’ve been voting daily and will continue to. Would love to see this at #1.

  3. Thanks so much, Julie, for this HUGE vote of support!

    Thanks to you too, Joanna and Rena. I am SO grateful for your positive comments and your many votes. The endorsement the TTT has received through this effort has been outstanding. I am moved and thrilled!

    Best to all. Will continue to keep you posted!

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