By KRYSTLE CHOW
Published in the Ottawa Business Journal newspaper and website.
March 21, 2011 (March 23 on OBJ.ca)
Click here to view this article on OBJ.ca.
The Discover Ottawa iPhone app.
Image courtesy of Purple Forge.
A new crop of locally developed smartphone apps is bringing a fresh dynamic to a tourism industry that’s long past the days of having a visitor information stand on the side of the road leading into town, but still feels the acute need for details on a destination’s attractions and amenities.
The recent launch of the city of Ottawa’s official application, Discover Ottawa, is a shining example of this: within the first 36 hours of launching, the app had a five-star rating on the iTunes store, attracted more than 2,000 downloads, and was ranked the eighth-most-downloaded social networking app and the 128th overall in Canada, according to Brian Hurley, CEO of Purple Forge, which developed Discover Ottawa.
“It’s helping to develop Ottawa in terms of visibility and attractiveness … the app helps improve the effectiveness and reach of existing programs,” says Mr. Hurley, who notes the bilingual app will be integrated into existing tourism communications and info packages for people interested in doing conferences in the city. It will also be promoted in the Ottawa International Airport’s digital signage.
Discover Ottawa – which was developed with the help of $40,000 in funding from the city’s economic development budget – provides information from many of the city’s tourism-related parties, including the City of Ottawa itself, Ottawa Tourism, the Ottawa International Airport Authority, local business improvement areas and major shopping malls.
The app includes a wide range of data, from up-to-the-minute flight details, to restaurant, entertainment and activity listings, to social networking features such as the ability to post a virtual “postcard” – adorned with photos of Ottawa – to Facebook or Twitter.
“There’s a basic change going on out in the world in how people are accessing information … and for travellers, the smartphone is becoming the primary way of gaining information about a destination,” says Mr. Hurley. “So cities and tourism organizations are matching communications to the vehicle and end user.” Continue reading →