I have always wanted PlayTours to make it easy for anyone to build team games. AI makes it even easier, says the Founder
I am a software engineer by profession and a builder-problem-solver at heart. When there was no bill-splitting app that suited me, I built one. When there was no digital version of a board game I loved, I built one.
PlayTours was born during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many features had to be adapted for the virtual environment. Instead of being physically together, players use different devices, and others can view what others are seeing on the app – much like a Google Doc. Instead of requiring a facilitator to hide and show different parts of a puzzle, it is automated by the app.
Challenges as a newcomer
“Your website and software look great, but you’re only one year old. How can we trust you?” We get these sorts of messages quite frequently, understandably.
To help alleviate such concerns, I made sure that our customer service is top-notch. We reply with detailed guidance within 12 hours, we provide free hour-long video consultations regardless of whether they are paying or non-paying customers.
We also priced our software very differently from others; the more a customer uses our software, the less they pay per player. We do this because we seek longer-term, sustainable partnerships.
The idea to build an all-in-one, team-building and event gamification platform started when I felt like I had overpaid for a museum escape room experience. We paid for six different players but only received one set of physically-printed puzzles, and it was inconvenient to take turns just to read them. When we needed help, we had to find the facilitators that were stationed around the museum and had to queue as they were overwhelmed with other confused players.
I felt that the facilitators and puzzle materials could be replaced with just an app, so I searched online. But I was left disappointed as the options were expensive and lacked key features. Plus, I have always wanted to build my own software company!
So, PlayTours was born.
In 2022, we entered Business Innovations Generator (BIG), Singapore Management University’s (SMU) incubation programme run by the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which provided PlayTours with valuable resources, mentors, and grants. We received the IIE Acceleration Grant and attended invaluable masterclasses to guide us away from any pitfalls. SMU BIG gave me the confidence to take more calculated risks.
We were able to onboard an additional digital marketer to speed up our marketing. Within three months, we revamped both our website and game builder, started regular postings on most social media platforms, and generated more useful articles for our blog readers. Our website visitors increased by 300 per cent, and we got a lot more conversions!
Being scalable and going global
Since its inception, I have built PlayTours with sustainability in mind – financial and operational sustainability. If we have 100x clients, we should not need 100x manpower. If clients have difficult requirements, we should not have to repeatedly keep changing our codebase.
With that in mind, PlayTours is self-service end-to-end, where organisers can build and run events without requiring any hand-holding from any staff members. If they need help, they can access our repository of tutorials in our blogs and within the game builder.
We also have a strict policy against building custom features for specific clients, as these create a lot of complexity in our codebase. All our features can be accessed and enjoyed by everyone. We have always told our clients that games are unique because of their stories and puzzles and not due to platform features.
To gain as much revenue as quickly as possible from the start, we immediately went global. Within 6 months, PlayTours has been used in every continent except Antarctica. Our all-in-one, flexible game builder meant that it could be used by many types of clients – small to large, casual to corporate. To date, we have been used in all kinds of events: scavenger hunts, team races, self-guided tours, staff retreats, social parties, and event gamification.
The future — AI, the community, and beyond
I have always wanted PlayTours to make it easy for anyone to build team games. AI makes it even easier. One of the problems of a game designer is to think of compelling puzzles and challenges. Our team of engineers will be integrating PlayTours with OpenAI so that that game designers can generate team challenges in a fraction of the time.
Giving back to the community with the software I built has been a dream of mine. To date, we have given extremely generous discounts and added services for non-profits such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Save the Children. They used PlayTours to run charity events and team-building events for their staff.
In 2023, we are focusing on our top-performing markets – North America, Europe, and Asia, and expanding our service to better serve clients with events larger than 10,000 players. Although the economic situation seems uncertain, what we are certain of is that we will adapt, just like we have always done.