This morning I’m at the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group‘s Digital Solutions for Tourism Conference 2016. Why am I along? Well EDINA has been doing some really interesting cultural heritage projects for years, particularly Curious Edinburgh – history of science tours app and our citizen science apps for COBWEB / FieldTrip Open which are used by visitors to locations, not just residents. And of course services like Statistical Accounts of Scotland which have loads of interest from tourists and visitors to Scotand. We are also looking at new mobile, geospatial, and creative projects so this seems like a great chance to hear what else is going on around tourism and tech in Edinburgh.
Introduction James McVeigh, Head of Marketing and Innovation, Festivals Edinburgh
Welcome to our sixth Digital Solutions for Tourism Conference. In those last six years a huge amount has changed, and our programme reflects that, and will highlight much of the work in Edinburgh, but also picking up what is taking place in the wider world, and rolling out to the wider world.
So, we are in Edinburgh. The home of the world’s first commercially available mobile app – in 1999. And did you also know that Edinburgh is home to Europe’s largest tech incubator? Of course you do!
Welcome Robin Worsnop, Rabbie’s Travel, Chair, ETAG
We’ve been running these for six years, and it’s a headline event in the programme we run across the city. In the past six years we’ve seen technology move from business add on to fundamental to what we do – for efficiency, for reach, for increased revenue, and for disruption. Reflecting that change this event has grown in scope and popularity. In the last six years we’ve had about three and a half thousand people at these events. And we are always looking for new ideas for what you want to see here in future.
We are at the heart of the tech industry here too, with Codebase mentioned already, Sky Scanner, and the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh all of which attracts people to the city. As a city we have free wifi around key cultural venues, on the buses, etc. It is more and more ubiquitous for our tourists to have access to free wifi. And technology is becoming more and more about how those visitors enhance their visit and experience of the city.
So, we have lots of fantastic speakers today, and I hope that you enjoy them and you take back lots of ideas and inspiration to take back to your businesses.
What is new in digital and what are the opportunities for tourism Brian Corcoran, Director, Turing Festival
There’s some big news for the tech scene in Edinburgh today: SkyScanner have been brought by a Chinese company for 1.5bn. And FanDual just merged with its biggest rival last week. So huge things are happening.
So, I thought today technology trends and bigger trends – macro trends – might be useful today. So I’ll be looking at this through the lens of the companies shaping the world.
Before I do that, a bit about me, I have a background in marketing and especially digital marketing. And I am director of the Turing Festival – the biggest technology festival in Scotland which takes place every August.
So… There are really two drivers of technology… (1) tech companies and (2) users. I’m going to focus on the tech companies primarily.
The big tech companies right now include: Uber, disrupting the transport space; Netflix – for streaming and content commissioning; Tesla – dirupting transport and energy usage; Buzzfeed – influential with huge readership; Spotify – changing music and music payments; banking… No-one has yet dirupted banking but they will soon… Maybe just parts of banking… we shall see.
And no-one is influencing us more than the big five. Apple, mainly through the iPhone. I’ve been awaiting a new MacBook for five years… Apple are moving computing PCs for top end/power users, but also saying most users are not content producers, they are passive users – they want/expect us to move to iPads. It’s a mobile device (running iOS) and a real shift. iPhone 7 got coverage for headphones etc. but cameras didn’t get much discussion, but it is basically set up for augmented reality with two cameras. Air Pods – the cable-less headphones – is essentially a new wearable, like/after the iWatch. And we are also seeing Siri opening up.
Over at Google… Since Google’s inception the core has been search and the Google search index and ranking. And they are changing it for the first time ever really… And building a new one… They are building a Mobile-only search index. They aren’t just building that they are prioritising it. Mobile is really the big tech trend. And in line with that we have their Pixel phone – a phone they are manufacturing themselves… That’s getting them back into wearables after their Google Glass misstep. And Google Assistant is another part of the Pixel phone – a Siri competitor… Another part of us interacting with phones, devices, data, etc. in a new way.
Microsoft is one of the big five that some thing shouldn’t be there… They have made some missteps… They missed the internet. They missed – and have written off phones (and Nokia). But they have moved to Surface – another mobile device. They have abandoned Windows and moved to Microsoft 365. They brought LinkedIn for £26bn (in cash!). One way this could effect us… LinkedIn has all this amazing data… But it is terrible at monetising it. That will surely change. And then we have HoloLens – which means we may eventually have some mixed reality actually happening.
Next in the Big Five is Amazon. Some very interesting things there… We have Alexa – the digital assistant service here. They have, as a device, Echo – essentially a speaker and listening device for your home/hotel etc. Amazon will be in your home listening to you all the time… I’m not going to get there! And we have Amazon Prime… And also Prime Instant Video. Amazon moving into television. Netflix and Amazon compete with each other, but more with traditional TV. And moving from Ad income to subscriptions. Interesting to think where TV ad spend will go – it’s about half of all ad spend.
And Facebook. They are at ad saturation risk, and pushing towards video ads. With that in mind they may also become defacto TV platform. Do they have new editorial responsibility? With Fake News etc. are they a tech company? Are they a media company? At the same time they are caving completely to Chinese state surveillance requests. And Facebook are trying to diversify their ecosystem so they continue to outlast their competitors – with Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, etc.
So, that’s a quick look at tech companies and what they are pushing towards. For us, as users the big moves have been towards messaging – Line, Wiichat, Messaging, WhatsApp, etc. These are huge and there has been a big move towards messaging. And that’s important if we are trying to reach the fabled millennials as our audience.
And then we have Snapchat. It’s really impenetrable for those under 30. They have 150 Daily Active Users, they have 1 bn snaps daily, 10bn videos daily. They are the biggest competitor to Facebook, to ad revenue. They have also gone for wearables – in a cheeky cool upstart way.
So, we see 10 emergent patterns:
- Mobile is now *the* dominant consumer technology, eclipsing PCs. (Apple makes more from the iPhone than all their other products combined, it is the most successful single product in history).
- Voice is becoming in an increasingly important UI. (And interesting how answers there connect to advertising).
- Wearables bring tech into ever-closer physical and psychological proximity to us. It’s now on our wrist, or face… Maybe soon it will be inside you…
- IoT is getting closer, driven by the intersection of mobile, wearables, APIs and voice UI. Particularly seeing this in smart home tech – switching the heat on away from home is real (and important – it’s -3 today), but we may get to that promised fridge that re-orders…
- Bricks and mortar retail is under threat, and although we have some fulfillment challenges, they will be fixed.
- Messaging marks generational shift in communification preferences – asynchronous prferred
- AR and VR will soon be commonplace in entertainment – other use cases will follow… But things can take time. Apple watch went from unclear use case to clear health, sports, etc. use case.
- Visual cmmunications and replacing textural ones for millenials: Snapchat defines that.
- Media is increasingly in the hands of tech companies – TV ads will be disrupted (Netflix etc.)
- TV and ad revenue will move to Facebook, Snapchat etc.
What does this all mean?
Mobile is crucial:
- Internet marketing in tourism now must be mobile-centric
- Ignore Google mobile index at your peril
- Local SEO is increasing in importance – that’s a big opportunity for small operators to get ahead.
- Booking and payments must be designed for mobile – a hotel saying “please call us”, well Millennials will just say no.
It’s unclear where new opportunities will be, but they are coming. In Wearables we see things like twoee – wearable watches as key/bar tab etc. But we are moving to a more seamless place.
Augmented reality is enabling a whole new set of richer, previously unavailable interactive experiences. Pokemon Go has opened the door to location-based AR games. That means previously unexciting places can be made more engaging.
Connectivity though, that is also a threat. The more mobile and wearables become conduits to cloud services and IoT, the more the demand for free, flawless internet connectivity will grow.
Channels? Well we’ve always needed to go where the market it. It’s easier to identify where they are now… But we need to adapt to customers behaviours and habits, and their preferences.
Moore’s law: overall processing power for computers will double every two year (Gordon Moore, INTEL, 1965)… And I wonder if that may also be true for us too.
Shine the Light – Digital Sector
Each of these speakers have just five minutes…
Joshua Ryan-Saha, Skills Lead, The Data Lab – data for tourism
I am Skills Lead at The Data Lab, and I was previously looking at Smart Homes at Nesta. The Data Lab works to find ways that data can benefit business, can benefit Scotland, can benefit your work. So, what can data do for your organisation?
Well, personalised experiences… That means you could use shopping habits to predict, say, a hotel visitors preferences for snacks or cocktails etc. The best use I’ve seen of that is in a museum using heart rate monitors to track experience, and areas of high interest. And as an exhibitor you can use phone data to see how visitors move around, what do they see, etc.
You can also use data in successful marketing – Tripadvisor data being a big example here.
You can also use data in efficient operations – using data to ensure things are streamlined. Things like automatic ordering – my dentist did this.
What can data do for Tourism in Scotland? Well we did some work with Glasgow using SkyScanner data, footfall data, etc. to predict hotel occupancy rates and with machine learning and further data that has become quite accurate over time. And as you start to predict those patterns we can work towards seamless experience. At the moment our masters students are running a competition around business data and tourism – talk to me to be involved as I think a hack in that space would be excellent.
What can data lab do for you? Well we fund work – around £70k per project, also smaller funds. We do skills programmes, masters and Phd students. And we have expertise – data scientists who can come in and work with you to sort your organisation a bit. If you want to find out more, come and talk to me!
Brian Smillie, Beezer – app creation made affordable and easy
1 in 5 people own a smart phone, desktop is a secondary touchpoint. The time people spend using mobile app has increased 21% since last year. There are 1 bn websites, only 2 million apps. Why are business embracing mobile apps? Well speed and convenience are key – an app enables 1 click access. Users expect that. And they can also reduce staff time on transations, etc. It allows building connection, build loyalty… Wouldn’t it be great to be able to access that. But the cost can be £10k or more per single app. When I was running a digital agency in Australia I heard the same thing over and over again – that they had spent a small fortune then no-one downloaded it. Beezer enables you to build an app in a few hours, without an app store, and it works on any platforms. SMEs need a quick, cheap, accessible way to build apps and right now Beezer are the only ones who do this…
Ben Hutton, XDesign – is a mobile website enough?
I’m Ben from XDesign – we build those expensive apps Brian was just talking about… A few years ago I was working on analytics of purchasing and ads… I was working on that Crazy Frog ad… We found the way that people would download that ringtone was to batter people into submission, showing it again again again… And that approach has distorted mobile apps and their potential. But actually so has standardised paper… We are so used to A4 that it is the default digital size too… It was a good system for paper merchants in the C17th. It has corrupted the ideas we have about apps… We think that apps are extensions of those battering/paper skillsets.
A mobile phone is a piece of engineering, software that sits in your pocket. It requires software engineers, designers, that will ensure quality assurance, that is focused on that medium. We have this idea of the Gigabit Society… We have 4.5G, the rocket fuel for mobile… And it’s here in London, in Manchester, in Birmingham… It is coming… And to work with that we need to think about the app design. It isn’t meant to be easy. You have to know about how Google is changing, about in-app as well as app sales, you need to know deep linking. To build a successful app you need to understand that you don’t know what you are doing but you have to give it a try anyway… That’s how we got to the moon!
Chris Torres, Director, Senshi Digital – affordable video
We develop tourism brands online to get the most out of online, out of sales. And I’ve been asked today to talk specifically about video. Video has become one of the best tools you can use in tourism. One of the reasons is that on your website or social media if you use video your audience can learn about your offering 60k times faster than if they read your content.
The average user watches 32 videos per month; 79% of travellers search YouTube for travel ideas – and many of them don’t know where they are going. By 2018 video will be 84% of web traffic. And it can really engage people.
So what sort of video do we do? Well we do background video for homepages… That can get across the idea of a place, of what they will experience when they get to your tourism destination.
What else? Staff/tour guide videos is huge. We are doing this for Gray Line at the moment and that’s showing a big uptick in bookings. When people see a person in a video, then meet at your venue, that’s a huge connection, very exciting.
We also have itinerary videos, what a customer can experience on a tour (again my example is Gray Line).
A cute way to do this is to get customers to supply video – and give them a free tour, or a perk – but get them to share their experiences.
And destination videos – it’s about the destination, not neccassarily you, your brand, your work – just something that entices customers to your destination.
Video doesn’t need to be expensive. You can film on your iPhone. But also you can use stock supplies for video – you’ve no excuse not to use video!
Case Study – Global Treasure Apps and Historic Environment Scotland Lorraine Sommerville and Noelia Martinez, Global Treasure Apps
Noella: I am going to talk about the HES project with Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh College, Young Scot. The project brought together young people and cultural heritage information. The process is a co-production process, collecting images, information, stories and histories of the space with the Global Treasure Apps, creating content. The students get an idea of how to create a real digital project for a real client. (Cue slick video on this project outlining how it worked).
Noella: So, the Global Treasure Apps are clue driven trails, guiding visitors around visitor attractions. For this Edinburgh Castle project we had 20 young people split into 5 groups. They researched at college and drafted trails around the space. Then they went to the castle and used their own mobile devices to gather those digital assets. And we ended up with 5 trails for the castle that can be used. Then, we went back to the college, uploaded content to our database, and then set the trails live. Then we go ESOL students to test the trails, give feedback and update it.
Lorraine: Historic Environment Scotland were delighted with the project, as were Edinburgh College. We are really keen to expand this to other destinations, especially as we enter The Year of Young People 2018, for your visitors and destinations.
Apps that improve your productivity and improve your service Gillian Jones, Qikserve
Before I start I’m going to talk a wee bit about SnapChat… SnapChat started as a sexting app… And I heard about it from my mum – but she was using it for sharing images of her house renovation! And if she can use that tech in new ways, we all can!
I am from Edinburgh and nothing makes me happier than seeing a really diverse array of visitors coming to this city, and I think that SkyScanner development will continue to see that boom.
A few months ago I was in Stockholm. I walked out of the airport and saw a fleet of Teslas as their taxis. It was a premium, innovative, thing to see. I’m not saying we should do that here, I’m saying the tourist experience starts from the moment they see the city, especially the moment that they arrive. And, in this day and age, if I was to guest coming to a restaurant, hotel, etc. what would I want? What would I see? It’s hard as a provider to put yourself in your customers shoes. How do we make tourists and guests feel welcome, feel able to find what they need. Where do we want to go and how to get there? There is a language barrier. There is unfamiliar cuisine – and big pictorial menus aren’t always the most appealing solution.
So, “Francesco” has just flown to Edinburgh from Rome. He speaks little English but has the QikServe app, he can see all the venues that uses that. He’s impatient as he has a show to get to. He is in a rush… So he looks at a menu, in his native language on his phone – and can actually find out what haggis or Cullen Skink is. And he is prompted there for wine, for other things he may want. He gets his food… And then he has trouble finding a waiter to pay. He wants to pay by Amex – a good example of ways people want to pay, but operators don’t want to take – But in the app he can pay. And then he can share his experience too. So, you have that local level… If they have a good experience you can capitalise on it. If they have a bad experience, you can address it quickly.
What is the benefit of this sort of system? Well money for a start. Mobile is proven for driving up sales – I’ve ordered a steak, do I want a glass of red with that? Yeah, I probably do. So it can increase average transaction value. It can reduce pressure on staff during busy times, allowing them to concentrate on great service. That Starbucks app – the idea of ordering ahead and picking up – is normal now… You can also drive footfall by providing information in tourists native language. And you can upsell, cross sell and use insights for more targeted campaigns – more sophisticated than freebies, and more enticing. It is about convenience tailored to me. And you can keen your branding at the centre of the conversation, across multiple channels.
There are benefits for tourists here through greater convenience with reduced wait-ties and queues; by identifying restaurant of choice and order in native language and currency; find and navigate to restaurant of choice with geo-location capabilities; order what you want, how you want it with modifiers, upsell and cross sell prompts in native language – we are doing projects in the US with a large burger chain who are doing brilliantly because of extra cheese ordered through the app!; and you can easily share and recommend experience through social media.
We work across the world but honestly nothing would make me happier than seeing us killing it in Edinburgh!
Virtual reality for tourism Alexander Cole, Peekabu Studios
Thank you for having me along, especially in light of recent US events (Alex is American).
We’ve talked about mobile. But mobile isn’t one thing… There are phones, there have been robot sneakers, electronic photo frames, all sorts of things before that are now mixed up and part of our phones. And that’s what we are dealing with with VR. Screens, accelerometers, buttons have all been there for a while! But if I show you what VR looks like… Well… It’s not like an app or a film or something, it’s hard to show. You look like a dork using it…
VR is abou
Right now VR is a $90m industry (2014) but by 2018 we expect it to be at least $5.2bn, and 171m users – and those are really conservative estimates.
So, VR involves some sort of headset… Like an HTC Vive, or Oculus Rift, etc. They include an accelorometer to see where you are looking, tilting, turning. Some include additional sensors. A lot of these systems have additional controllers, that detect orientation, presses, etc. that means the VR knows where I am, where I’m looking, what I’m doing with my hands. It’s great, but this is top end. This is about £1000 set up AND you need a PC to render and support all of this.
But this isn’t the only game in town… Google have the “Daydream” – a fabric covered mobile phone headset with lens. They also have the Google Cardboard. In both cases you have a phone, strap in, and you have VR. But there are limitations… It doesn’t track your movement… But it gives you visuals, it tracks how you turn, and you can create content from your phones – like making photospheres – image and audio – when on holiday.
Capture is getting better, not just on devices. 360 degree cameras are now just a few hundred pounds, you can take it anywhere, it’s small and portable and that makes for pretty cool experiences. So, if you want to climb a tower (Alex is showing a vertigo-inducing Moscow Tower video), you can capture that, you can look down! You can look around. For tourism uses it’s like usual production – you bring a camera, and you go to a space, and you show what you would like, you just do it with a 360 degree camera. And you can share it on YouTube’s 360 video channel…
And with all of this tech together you can set up spaces where sensors are all around that properly track where you are and give much more immersive emotional experiences… Conveying emotion is what VR does better than anything when it is done well.
So, you can do this two ways… You can create content so that someone not in a particular physical space, can feel they are there. OR you can create a new space and experience that. It requires similar investment of time and effort. It’s much like video creation with a little more stitching together that is required.
So, for example this forthcoing space game with VR is beautiful. But that’s expensive. But for tourism the production can be more about filming – putting a camera in a particular place. And, increasingly, that’s live. But, note…
You still look like a ninny taking place! That’s a real challenge and consideration in terms of distribution, an dhow many people engage at the same time… But you can use that too – hence YouTube videos all usually including both what’s on screen, and what’s going on (the ninny view). And now you have drones and drone races with VR used by the controller… That’s a vantage point you cannot get any other way. That is magical and the cost is not extortionate… You can take it further than this… You can put someone in a rig with wings, with fans, with scents, and with VR, so you can fly around and experience a full sensory experience… This is stupid expensive… But it is the most awesome fun! It conveys a sense of doing that thing VR was always meant to do. When we talk about where VR is going… We have rollercoasters with VR – so you can see Superman flying around you. There are some on big elastic bands – NASA just launched one for Mars landing.
So, tourism and VR is a really interesting marriage. You can convey a sense of place, without someone being there. Even through 360 degree video, YouTube 360 degree video… And you can distribute it in more professional way for Vive, for Oculus Rift… And when you have a space set up, when you have all those sensors in a box… That’s a destination, that’s a thing you can get people too. There is a theme park destination like experiences. You can service thousands+ people with one set up and one application.
So, the three E’s of VR: experience, exploration – you drive this; and emotion – nothing compares to VR for emotion. Watching poeple use VR for the first time is amazing… They have an amazing time!
But we can’t ignore the three A’s of VR: access – no one platform, and lots of access issues; affordability – the biggest most complex units are expensive, your customers won’t have one, but you can put it in your own space; applicability – when you have new tech you can end up treating everything as a nail for your shiny new hammer. Don’t have your honeymoon in VR. Make sure what you do works for the tech, for the space, for the audience’s interest.
Using Data and Digital for Market Intelligence for Destinations and Businesses Michael Kessler, VP Global Sales, Review Pro
I’m going to be talking about leveraging guest intelligence to deliver better experiences and drive revenue. And this isn’t about looking for “likes”, it’s about using data to improve revenue, to develop business.
So, for an example of this, we analysed 207k online reviews in 2016 year to date for 339 3*, 4* and 5* hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh. We used the Global Review Index (GRI) – which we developed and is an industry-standard reputation score based on review data collected from 175+ OTAs and review sites in over 45 languages. To do that we normalise scores – everyone uses their own scale. From that data we see Edinburgh’s 5* hotels have 90.2% satisfaction in Edinburgh (86.4% in Glasgow), and we can see the variance by * rating (Glasgow does better for satisfaction at 3*).
You can explore satisfaction by traveler types – solo, couples, families, business. The needs are very different. For any destination or hotel this lets you optimise your business, to understand and improve what we do.
We run sentiment analysis, using machine learning, across reviews. We do this by review but also aggregate it so that you can highlight strengths and weaknesses in the data. We show you trends… You will understand many of these but those trends allow you to respond and react to those trends (e.g. Edinburgh gets great scores on Location, Staff, Reception; poorer scores on Internet; Bathroom; Technology. Glasgow gets great Location, Staff, Reception, poorer scores for Internet, Bathroom; Room). We do this across 16 languages and this is really helpful.
We also highlight management response rates. So if guests post on TripAdvisor, you have to respond to them. You can respond and use as a marketing channel too. Looking across Edinburgh and Glasgow we can see a major variation between (high) response rates to TripAdvisor versus (low) response to Booking.com or Expedia.
The old focus of marketing was Product/Promotion/Price/Place. But that has changed forever. It’s all about experience now. That’s what we want. I think we have 4 Es instead of 4 Ps. So, those 4E’s are: Experience; Evangelism; Exchange; Everyplace. In the past I shared experience with friends and families, but now I evangelise, I share much more widely. And everyplace reflects sending reviews too – 60-70% of all reviews and feedback to accommodation is done via mobile. You can’t make better marketing than authentic feedback from guests, from customers.
And this need to measure traveller experience isn’t just about hotels/hostels/services apartments, it is also about restaurants; transportation; outdoor attractions; theme parks; museums; shopping. And those reviews have a solid impact on revenue – 92% of travelers indicate that their decisions are highly influenced by reviews and ratings.
So, how do we use all this data? Well there is a well refined cycle: Online reviews; we can have post-stay/event surveys; and in-stay surveys. Online reviews and post-stay surveys are a really good combination to understand what can be improved, where change can be made. And using that cycle you can get to a place of increased guest satisfaction, growth in review volume, improved online rankings (TripAdvisor privileges more frequently reviewed places for instance), and increased revenue.
And once you have this data, sharing it across the organisation has a huge positive value, to ensure the whole organisation is guest-centric in their thinking and practice.
So, we provide analytics and insights for each of your departments. So, for housekeeping, what happened in the room space in reviews; we can do semantic data checking for cleanliness, clean, etc.
In-stay reviews also helps reduce negative reviews – highlighting issues immediately, make the experience great whilst your guest is still there. And we have talked about travellers being mobile, but our solution is also mobile so that we can use it in all spaces.
How else can we use this? We can use it to increase economic development by better understanding our visitors. How do we do this? Well for instance in Star Ratings Australia we have been benchmarking hotel performances across 5000+ hotels across a range of core KPIs. Greece (SETE) is a client of ours and we help them to understand how they as a country, as cities, as islands, compete with other places and cities across the world.
So our system works for anyone with attractions, guests, reviews, clients, where we can help. Operators can know guests – but that’s opinion. We try to enable decisions based on real information. That allows understanding of weaknesses and drive change. There is evidence that increasing your Global Review Index level will help you raise revenue. It also lets you refine your marketing message based on what you perform best at in your reviews, make a virtue of your strengths on your website, on TripAdvisor, etc.
And with reviews, do also share reviews on your own site – don’t just encourage them to go to Tripadvisor. Publishing reviews and ratings means your performance is shown without automatically requiring an indirect/fee-occuring link, you keep them on your site. And you do need to increase review volume on key channels to keep your offering visible and well ranked.
So, what do we offer?
We have our guest intelligence system, with reputation management, guest surveys, revenue optimiser and data. All of these create actionable insights for a range of tourism providers – hotels, hostels, restaurants, businesses etc. We have webinars, content, and information that we share back with the community for free.
Tech Trends and the Tourism Sector
Two talks here…
Jo Paulson, Events and Experiences Manager, Edinburgh Zoo and Jon-Paul Orsi, Digital Manager, Edinburgh Zoo – Pokemon Go
Jon-Paul: As I think everyone knows Pokemon Go appeared and whether you liked it or not it was really popular. So we wanted to work out what we could do. We are spread over a large site and that was great – loads of pokestops – but an issue too: one was in our blacksmith shop, another in our lion enclosure! So we quickly mapped the safe stops and made that available – and we only had a few issues there. By happy accident we also had some press coverage as one of the best places to find Pokemon – because a visitor happened to have found a poketung on our site.
With that attention we also decided to do some playful things with social media – making our panda a poke-cake; sharing shots of penguins and pokemon. And they were really well received.
Jo: Like many great ideas we borrowed from other places for some of our events. Bristol zoos had run some events and we borrowed ideas – with pokestops, pokedex charging points, and we had themed foods, temporary tattoos etc. We wanted to capitalise on the excitement so we had about a week and a half to do this. As usual we checked with keepers first, closing off areas where the animals could be negatively impacted.
Jon-Paul: In terms of marketing this we asked staff to tell their friends… And we were blown away by how well that went. On August 4th we had 10k hits as they virally shared the details. We kind of marketed it by not marketing it publicly. It being a viral, secret, exciting thing worked well. We sold out in 2 hours and that took us hugely be surprise. Attendees found the event through social primarily – 69% through facebook, 19% by word of mouth.
We didn’t have a great picture of demographics etc. Normally we struggle to get late teens, twenties, early thirties unless they are there as a couple or date. But actually here we saw loads of people in those age ranges.
Jo: We had two events, both of which we kept the zoo opened later than usual. Enclosures weren’t open – though you could see the animals. But it was a surreal event – very chatty, very engaged, and yet a lot of heads down without animal access. For the first event we gave away free tickets, but asked for donations (£5k) and sold out in 2 hours; for the second event we charged £5 in advance (£6500) and sold in around a week. We are really pleased with that though, that all goes into our conservation work. If popularity of Pokemon continues then we will likely run more of these as we reach the better weather/longer light again.
Rob Cawston, Interim Head of Digital Media, National Museum of Scotland – New Galleries and Interactive Exhibitions
One of the advantages of having a 7 year old son is that you can go to Pokemon Go events and I actually went to the second Zoo event which was amazing, if a little Black Mirror.
Here at the NMS we’ve just completed a major project opening 4 new fashion and design galleries, 6 new science and technology galleries, and a new piazza (or expanded pavement if you like). Those ten new galleries allow us to show (75% of 3000+) items for the first time in generations, but we also wanted to work out how to engage visitors in these attractions. So, in the new galleries we have 150+ interactive exhibits in the new galleries – some are big things like a kid sized hamster wheel, hot air balloon, etc. But we also now have digital labels… This isn’t just having touch screens for the sake of it, it needed to add something new that enhances the visitor experience. We wanted to reveal new perspectives, to add fun and activity – including games in the gallery, and providing new knowledge and learning.
We have done research on our audiences and they don’t just want more information – they have phones, they can google stuff, so they want more. And in fact the National Museum of Flight opened 2 new hangers and 30 new digital labels that let us trial some of our approaches with visitors first.
So, on those digital labels and interactives we have single stories, multiple chapters, bespoke interactives. These are on different sorts of screens, formats, etc. Now we are using pretty safe tech. We are based on the umbraco platform, as is our main website. We set up a CMS with colours, text, video, etc. And that content is stored on particular PCs that send data to specific screens in the museums. There is so much content going into the museum, so we were able to prep all this stuff ahead of gallery opening, and without having to be in the gallery space whilst they finished installing items.
We didn’t just put these in the gallery – we put them on the website too. Our games are there, and we know they are a major driver of traffic to the website. That multiple platform digital content includes 3D digital views of fashion; we have a game built with Aardman…
We have learned a lot from this. I don’t think we realised how much would be involved in creating this content, and I think we have created a new atmosphere of engagement. After this session do go and explore our new galleries, our new interactives, etc.
Wrap Up James McVeigh, Festivals Edinburgh
I’m just going to do a few round ups. You’ve heard a lot today. We’ve got exhibitors who are right on your doorstep. We are trying to show you that digital is all around you, it’s right on your doorstep. I got a lot from this myself… I like that the zoo borrowed the ideas – we don’t always need to reinvent the wheel! The success of the Japanese economy is about adopting, not inventing.
Everything we have heard today is about UX, how audiences, share, engage, how they respond afterwards.
And as we finish I’d like to thank ETAG, to Digital Tourism Scotland, to Scottish Enterprise, and to the wider tourism industry in Edinburgh.
And finally, the next events are:
- 29th November – Listening to our Visitors
- 6th December – Running Social Media Campaigns
- 26th January – ETAG Annual Conference
And with that we just have lunch, networking and demos of Bubbal and Hydra Research. Thanks to all from me for a really interesting event – lots of interesting insights into how tech is being used in Edinburgh tourism and where some of the most interesting potential is at the moment.