Cities want to create more connectivity between locals and tourists to rid themselves of the us vs them mentality. All the whilst tourists want to have a more personalized experience when visiting a city, they want to feel connected to the city and it's inhabitants. Luckily the wonders of continuous internet connectivity allow us to fix both those problems at once.
We propose an idea for an app that will provide tourists with a direct line of communication to locals who can then provide them with tips on the do's and don'ts of the city. These locals will be organised into channels that reflect their own interests and expertise so the tourists can more easily find a local who has the desired tips and tricks. Let's dicover together.
How we built it
Because of limited experience with app development, we created the basic layout of the app using powerpoint. This should give a clear indication of how the app would flow and/or work.
Challenges I ran into
One of the most important aspects of a new venture, is the financial feasability. We can split the financial plan into
- initial phase: city pays for the project (=> specific start prototype city), possible ad deals with companies (in the sense of possible deals with companies that provide users some benefits to)
- growth: expanding to new cities, attracting more users, create a tiered locals system (=> based on ratings and the points system we could determine which guides are the best and then they could become premium guides where they get paid by us for taking on tourists and staying up to date )
- expansion/diversification of core services: to thrive in later life stages of the application, we would suggest trying to move into another market. Perhaps by attaching an in-house payment system, professional guided tours and so on. Basically this would entail setting up a more premium side of service to attract a new demographic Another option would be the addition of different language support.
- attracting users:
- tourists: If the program gets launched in collaboration with the city, they could promote the usage in tourist office or online.
- locals/guides : test city could be student town where social engagement is much larger. Then promote through student communication networks (cfr buddy program). There are already tourist offices that have employees who could be the first moderators of the chat platforms.
- incentives to use the app:
In an application that relies on a large participative user base, it would be important to make sure users have enough incentives to download and to keep using the app.
- tourists: they get the benefit of having a more personalized interaction that tells them what to do. More fun then browsing though lists with ratings and more tailored to them.
- locals: when directing a tourist towards a specific location and the tourist actually ends up going there, the local guide gets a certain amount of credits, these credits are then accumulated and can provide the local benefits throughout the city (gift cards, discounts on city events...)
In order for an optimal user experience, it would be beneficial to try and match the sociodemographical background of both the local and the tourist: In the beginning the target audience would be students
How does it work:
Both locals and tourists give their interests.The tourists can then post a question on an open forum, relevant to the area of interest. A local can then respond to this which will remove the question from the forum and create a separate chatroom for the local and the tourist. All this will be overviewed by a moderator to make sure that nothing shady happens, these moderators can also answer questions if need be. The initial moderators would come from the tourism department and more could be hired according to need.
When a local gives a suggestion, it gets pinpointed on the map of the tourist. When the tourist actually visits the given place then the local gets a certain amount of credits. These credits then give them benefits all throughout the city.
Benefits to the city:
The benefit to the city would not only be the building of bridges between tourists and locals but also the aggregation of detailed tourism information: why tourists visit the city, how they visit the city, what they lack, how improvements could be made...
What I learned:
- I learned to think more about the financial viability of a project alongside the technical viability.
- It was also very interesting to think about how to start and how to expand properly.
What's next for local guide:
- Fixing the application
- Finding a prototype city, Leuven perhaps ;)
- Expanding to different cities