Real Time Travel Guide

Revolutionising visitor information via Twitter. #Realtimetravelguide is an initiative designed to demonstrate how tourist and visitor information centres can utilise new technology to drive growth by providing an excellent modern real time service to visitors, businesses and wider local communities.

This campaign, a tourist board first, delivers real-time visitor information via Twitter. Participants including tourist information centres (TICs) are encouraged to engage with and support local businesses to share their announcements, offers, updates and reasons to visit specific locations.

What’s the aim of the initiative?

To provide an easy to access and valued local information service that reaches a wider, non-traditional audience; preserves the wealth of in-depth destination knowledge and enriches the overall customer experience.

Why do we need it?

In the social space people want timely information and answers to questions - that is how we define relevance.

Destination marketing traditionally focuses pre-visit. It plants ideas, suggests options and helps with decision making. This initiative focuses on developing the in-destination experience; specifically the provision of responsive, real-time visitor information to ever increasing numbers of mobile consumers.

It is recognised that well-informed visitors will stay longer in destinations and, more importantly, want to return. The visitor information centre (VIC) provides in-depth local area expertise for people in-destination. But in common with many high street retailers, information centre services are losing walk-in customers to online search and friend recommendations. The local visitor information service needs to become one of those trusted friends.

What do we want to achieve?

We support the provision of a modern visitor information service to consumers in England. The evolution of visitor information is crucial because of:

  • the increasing volume of people using social networks to find information on the go;
  • the vast amount of local knowledge that can be used to better effect; and the rise of Twitter as an online customer service.

Destinations involved in the project can demonstrate a key role that tourist information centres (TICs) can play to serve both local people and visitors by:

  • Building relationships with non-traditional ‘tourism’ operators like high street retailers, local media channels and support organisations like chambers of commerce, BIDs and town centre managers.
  • Recognising the behavior change driven by mobile technology and evolving appropriately.
  • Offering an effective customer service that regularly monitors comment and responds promptly.

Our aim is to show that by providing a more authentic/enriching experience this will lead to higher customer satisfaction and destination advocacy.

Who benefits?

Destinations benefit from:

  • an affordable opportunity to be where your customers are;
  • support and mentoring to achieve the best results;
  • key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate progress and evidence service value;
  • greater visitor insight gained to add value and support future destination marketing initiates;
  • reach a wider demographic to engage younger, local and mobile consumers; and
  • closer stakeholder relationships with non-traditional tourism organisations and businesses.

Consumers benefit from:

  • the provision of real time information including events and special offers;
  • prompt answers to questions;
  • access to a wider pool of information and local area knowledge;
  • a trusted point of reference; and
  • a modernised visitor information service fit for an online and social world.

Why Twitter?

Twitter’s fleeting nature makes it better suited to ‘in-destination’ real time information where Facebook is better suited to ‘pre-visit’ marketing information. There are already great examples of high street businesses using Twitter to interact with customers by offering special timed offers or deals. This initiative, by putting the visitor information centre at the hub, ensures any such relevant Tweets reach a wider audience.  Recent research shows:

  • 15m active users in the UK
  • 288m users worldwide
  • 46% look for local information
  • 2 in 3 use twitter while on holiday  
  • 1 in 7 look for special deals while on holiday