If geocaching isn’t geeky enough for you, here’s a new tech trend that gets you out of your chair and pounding the streets: guided tours powered by QR (quick response) codes. Some travel and tourism organizations are now using QR codes to replicate the self-guided audio tours that have long been a staple of museums or landmarks. Enterprises looking to deploy these tags in their own marketing collateral might want to take a closer look at some of these examples.

Paul Gillin is a writer, speaker and marketing strategist specializing in business-to-business uses of social media. His latest book is Social Marketing to the Business Customer.

Gotham Guide

claims to be the first QR tour of New York City, covering areas as far south as the Brooklyn Bridge and as far north as Central Park. Did you know that some of New York’s wealthiest citizens live in converted horse stables? You can find out at the Washington Mews stop on the six-hour tour.

Tourism organizations are beginning to pile on. The Long Beach (WA) Peninsula Visitors Bureau has stashed 19 QR codes along the 8.5-mile coastal Discovery Trail. The codes point out areas of interest and deliver background on the many pieces of art that dot the way.

Fort Smith (AR) National Park partnered with the city of Fort Smith to link QR codes posted around the park to brief informational videos hosted by the city. The park is the first National Historic Site to use the technology and the results have been encouraging enough that the cities of Van Buren and Fort Smith are now incorporating QR into their marketing programs.BeeTagg.com helps track results.

Other parks are likely to jump on the bandwagon. The town of Crested Butte (CO), the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum and the local tourism association are now developing a similar program for historic buildings in the Colorado town.

San Antonio’s famous River Walk has recently been embellished with a tour that places a dozen QR codes along a 1.7 mile stretch. The codes of link back to an audio narration by a local historian and author.

The City of Grand Rapids (MI) has 13 stops on its QR tour along with aprintable map that gathers all the codes in one convenient place. Visitors are encouraged to snap photos and upload them to Flickr as well as to check in on Foursquare. Now the whole state of Michigan may be joining the craze. The Michigan Department Of Transportation this began printing QR codes on the maps it distributes to tourists.

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