When visiting a new city it’s all too easy to get sucked in to seeing the same cliched landmarks as everyone else. But it can often be more rewarding to take the path less travelled and indulge your sense of adventure. And with location aware technology now so widespread, mobile apps are able to draw sightseers away from overcrowded tourist traps, and help them see areas of a city that may otherwise be overlooked.
Over the last few years sculpture exhibitions have become an increasingly popular way of raising money for charities. If you haven’t come across one of these, it’s where a city commissions a number of sculptures – each featuring a unique design by a different artist – and then exhibits them around the city to be auctioned off at a later date. Bath had pigs, Manchester has Bees, and Bristol is currently hosting Gromit of Wallace and Gromit fame.
By having the sculptures dotted around the city, tourists are encouraged to find and visit all of the statues which results in them visiting areas of the city that they may have otherwise overlooked.
So where does location aware technology come in? Well, in the case of Bristol’s Gromit Unleashed 2 there’s an accompanying app designed not only to help eager Gromit-spotters find where the sculptures are located, but it also allows them to ‘tick off’ one of the 67 sculptures by visiting it. Through using GPS hyperlocation technology to pinpoint the user’s position, the app can verify that the user has visited the location of a particular sculpture and then ticks it off on the list.
A similar exhibition is also currently taking place in Manchester to raise money for the We Love MCR charity. The appropriately named Bee in the City features statues of worker bees, a commonly used symbol to represent the city. As with Bristol’s Gromit Unleashed 2, Bee in the City also has an accompanying app to assist in finding and visiting all of the city’s bee sculptures. The app also uses GPS location aware technology to pinpoint the app user’s location to tick off a sculpture once they’ve visited it.
With both of these apps this extra element of gamification when ‘collecting’ all of the sculptures offers an incentive for the app users to visit all of the sculpture locations, and encourages them to explore areas around their respective cities which they otherwise wouldn’t have visited.
While tourism is vital to the economies of many cities, there is such a thing as overtourism, as anyone who lives in a major city will know. Your morning commute is infinitely more frustrating thanks to hordes of oblivious sightseers. And even if you’re a tourist yourself, huge crowds can really ruin the sightseeing experience.
However, combatting overtourism is difficult, people are always going to want to visit London, for example, and see the sights. The solution then is to try and encourage tourists to visit areas of the city they may have otherwise ignored and offer them incentives doing so.
London in particular is victim to overtourism, so while other apps may be attempting to encourage tourism, Play London with Mr Bean is helping to combat overtourism by driving tourists out of the city centre and away from the busier tourist locations). By visiting different locations within the city, the app rewards users with things like discount vouchers on boat tours, or free cups of coffee. Through using GPS technology to pinpoint your position, the app can tell when you’ve and tell when you’ve visited one of the locations and then issues you a reward. By prioritising lesser known attractions and locations outside of the city centre and assigning them better rewards, there’s more of an incentive for tourists to visit these locations.
There’s also a slew of city tourism apps designed to help you see a city in a way that’s relevant to your personal interests. Rather than a one size fits all guided tour, you can have a personal tour tailored to your passion, whether it’s music, sports or even beer. Beer Adventures is an example of this, designed to help beer enthusiasts find the best bars and pubs across 85 cities world, encouraging tourists to spend money at local businesses whilst using location tracking technology to guide them between pubs and landmarks.
These are just a couple of the ways to use location aware technology to influence tourism within cities, and there are plenty of other examples of cities in the UK using this technology to enhance the experience for tourists. At BMDI we are experts in location aware technology, so if you’re considering building location tracking functionality into your app then why not contact us today and see what we can do for you.