Recently, I participated in a briefing comprising Singapore’s attractions industry and technology companies. The idea was for these IT and web solution providers to develop industry-wide initiatives that can boost productivity, marketing and visitor experience for museums, zoos, theme parks, aquariums, and other attractions.
As the session went on, I realised that there is a gap between what technology vendors wanted to pitch for and what tourists may be willing to embrace. The differences can be rather shocking at times.
Being a frequent leisure traveller and observer of tourist behaviours, I’d like to share the following rather commonsensical truths about travelling and technology:
1) It is STILL ridiculously expensive to log on to ANY foreign cellular network for data. Try watching a Youtube video for 10 minutes in any foreign land using data roaming and see how much it BLEEDS.
2) Location based apps with all that augmented reality layering is cool. However, don’t go OVERBOARD with trying to layer over every street corner/bus stop/lamp post.
3) Speaking of which, there is NOTHING quite like enjoying the actual Eiffel Tower/Mona Lisa/Merlion with all its sights, sounds and scents in REAL 3D.
4) Sure, we wouldn’t mind a little PUSH email/facebook message/tweet now and then from our loved ones back home. However, not every friggin’ 20 minutes for the whole day.
5) Peering continuously at a tiny 4 by 2 inch smartphone throughout one’s holiday ISN’T a restful vacation.
6) Scheduling one’s itinerary is important (we’re great believers in that). However, having a mobile device beep you EVERY HOUR OR SO (“Time for Lunch!”, “20% discounts NOW!”, “FREE Concert in 10 minutes”) when you’re cruising down Singapore River or admiring a Terracotta Warrior isn’t so.
7) Technology should ASSIST travellers in a foreign land rather than ADVERTISE your wares endlessly. While an occasional location/activity specific deal would be much appreciated, care must be taken not to overwhelm/irritate our guests.
8) Free WiFi is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to travellers with smartphones or laptops. Deploy it at strategic locations and gathering places and make sure that they know all about it.
9) Old school paper brochures are STILL vital, even if you allow a tourist to download everything free of charge into his/her smartphone. They are easier to read, virus/trojan free, and do not come with pesky pop-ups.
10) Finally, consider the HUMAN FACTORS (also called ergonomics) involved in deploying technology. Understand how people use technology and what their behaviours are like when smitten by wanderlust in a foreign land.