Conquering COVID – Mobile Apps, GPS and Tourism
Right before COVID hit, we completed research with the European Space Agency showing it is possible to use space assets such as GPS in mobile apps to trigger Augmented Reality (AR) technologies, delivering a targeted, location-driven, and immersive experience for visitor attractions. Flo-culture’s innovative approach was to create a customizable system that can be easily deployed at an affordable price. The last six months have rendered mobile apps that monitor and manage visitor placement more of a must-have than a nice-to-have. Businesses are now not only challenged with providing entertaining and educational offers but must also address the increased scrutiny on keeping their customers safe and protected.
Please Touch museums are out, and contactless QR codes are making the best comeback since Churchill told Lady Astor he would drink the coffee.
As recently as January this year, my girlfriend and I visited St Andrews Castle in Fife. It was business as usual; she paid with cash, and we picked up paper tickets, paper guides, and great dodgy headsets to listen to audio snippets on some outdated, slightly sticky handheld device.
Well, these days are already long gone. In the wake of COVID-19, visitor safety will be the top priority. Attractions will strive to implement new hygiene and operational standards to ensure guests feel safe and secure. They will have to. The UK’s We’re Good to Go scheme is already providing certifications for visitor attractions that follow Government and industry guidelines and have a process in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.
Visitor attractions often see digital technology as a double-edged sword. But can it now help visitor attractions adapt following COVID? Mobile Apps will take on an increasingly important and valuable role for attractions and visitors in the post-COVID world. How do you keep wary and concerned visitors educated, entertained, safe, and likely to return?
The thoughts of tourists in the post-COVID world were the focus of a recent government survey. Over 90% of people who regularly visit attractions would prefer self-guided vs. guided tours. Additionally, they would prefer to use mobile apps on their device vs. one provided by the attraction.
COVID remains a significant challenge. However, we are well down the road in developing products that will address the tourist industry’s COVID-driven pains. For example. relating to visitor management and customer satisfaction. Using real-time GPS mapping, attractions can monitor occupancy limits and bottle-necks. They can provide automated notifications to their visitors on their phones, helping them avoid queues and stay safe. With GPS precision for the mass markets now down to around 1 meter, we can also help businesses bring their attractions to life using GPS to trigger 3D directions and tell their stories in a more innovative manner than before.
Finally, the world of travel is slowly opening again. Tours and attractions will introduce new measures to ensure visitors and staff feel safe. The desire that experiences be contactless yet interactive provides an excellent opportunity for companies like us. We aim to develop mobile apps which provide safety, and immersive experiences through a combination of physical and digital approaches.