MIAMI -- As millions of baby boomers enter their 50s, their days of
listening to loud rock 'n' roll and dancing in the deafening discos
of the 1970s are catching up with them.
Namely, their hearing is fading as fast as their old blue
One of the nation's largest tour operators, Far & Wide,
based here, is helping seniors and baby boomers who have to strain
to clearly hear commentary provided by directors and guides on
In the last year, Far & Wide, an umbrella for more than a
dozen companies, tested an audio system called Loud & Clear, a
wireless receiver and headset travelers can use to hear tour guides
talk, whether on a motorcoach or inside a museum.
Provided free of charge, the system has been so popular that the
firm is extending it to all of its Europe tours this year. Europe
makes up about 50% of the company's group tour business.
By the end of 2003, Far & Wide -- which handles about
200,000 travelers a year -- said it plans to offer the headsets on
all of its tours worldwide.
"The response has been fabulous," said a spokeswoman. "There are
a lot of people who are not deaf but who are confused by background
noise, and you find them in the front of a group vying for the
front position so they can hear clearly."
With the system, travelers with mild to moderate hearing loss
wear the headphones, either with a hearing aid or without,
depending on the severity of their problem.
The system is compatible with behind-the-ear or in-the-ear
hearing aids through a built-in coil or switch that travelers can
link to the provided Loud & Clear receiver.
The technology works through an FM radio receiver, activated by
tour directors and tour guides, who wear a radio transmitter and
When guides speak, the message is picked up and transmitted as a
radio signal to the portable receivers and lightweight headphones
the travelers are wearing.
The transmission carries over a distance of 100 feet inside
buildings and 150 feet outdoors.
Travel agents with clients on Far & Wide tours do not need
to make reservations in advance for the Loud & Clear headsets,
the spokeswoman said.
Travelers can decide whether they want to take advantage of the
program once they start the tour.
Far & Wide companies include Adventure Center, African
Travel, Brian Moore, Central Holidays, Grand European Tours, High
Country Passage, Intercontinental Travel, IST Cultural Tours,
Journeys Unlimited, Lion World Travel, Pacific Bestour, Peter Voll
Associates, Prism Holidays, Regina Tours, Spanish Heritage Tours,
Swain Tours and Down-under Direct, Tourlite and Zeus Tours &
More information is available at the Web site, www.farandwide.com/loudandclear.
Firm releases sales CD
MIAMI -- Far & Wide created a travel industry sales CD,
which enables travel agents specializing in groups to make direct,
online group requests to the company, for established departures or
The CD also provides promotional fliers for "group alerts" --
the top-rated trips provided by the Far & Wide travel
The company also issued an updated version of its Group
Reference Guide, with resources that include the book, "How to Make
the Most of Group Travel Opportunities."
More information is available on the company's Web site, at www.farandwide.com/brochures. --