Cork tech firm has Big Apple in the palm of its hand

29 Oct 2010

Cork technology company In Hand Guides has secured a deal potentially worth €500,000 with Twin America in New York to have its low-cost embedded audio players available on city bus tours.

Under the terms of the deal, which was secured with support from Enterprise Ireland’s New York Office, In Hand Guides (IHG) will design and manufacture a branded bespoke audio device for the 3 million annual customers with City Sights and Gray Line New York.

IHG estimates this deal will generate more than €500,000 in the next 12 months, which will allow IHG to employ technical and support staff in its Cork base. Publicity has already generated interest with similar tourist companies in Chicago and Orlando.

Bus tours in New York City were valued at US$3bn in 2007 by the City Council. The city licenses 12 sightseeing companies, which operate 250 tour buses.

The agreement represents a ground-breaking deal for IHG, which now has operations in four continents.

“In Hand Guides are delighted to introduce their product into the USA in conjunction with a company such as Twin America who provide tourism services to over 3 million visitors annually in New York and whose blue CitySights NY buses and red Gray Line buses are an icon on the streets of the Big Apple,” Trevor Winckworth, CEO and founder of IHG, said today.

From now on, both City Sights and Gray Line, New York’s most prominent tour bus operators, will sell the In Hand Guides bespoke audio device. The unique credit-card sized audio player will allow customers to freely roam areas of NYC, such as Wall Street or the former World Trade Center site, and receive a one-on-one guided tour at their own pace. They then keep the ultra low-cost player as unique souvenir of their trip to the city.

IHG opens US office

Coinciding with this major announcement to manage rising demand in the region for its audio player solutions, IHG have opened their first office in the US.

Irish companies now employ more than 4,200 people in more than 60 offices throughout New York. The In Hand Guides office is located right in the heart of the Business District at 345 Park Avenue.

“This is a significant contract for this specialist Cork-based company,” said Enterprise Ireland’s director of the Americas Gerry Murphy.

“In securing this high-profile New York partnership, In Hand Guides demonstrates that small Irish companies can secure significant, prestigious international contracts by focusing on providing quality, innovative products tailored to specific customer requirements. We will continue to support them as they build on this success and work to break into other important US markets.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years