: Technology

Visitor experience: are you being served?

Visitor experience: are you being served?

English Tourism Week 2015 (14-22 March 2015) is a yearly celebration showcasing visitor experiences and the value tourism brings to local communities and the national economy. Last year a big variety of local and national events, discounts and special promotions were on offer, including museum events, exhibitions, sports experiences, crafts workshops and regional celebrations like the Big Chilterns Weekend. Public and private tourism operators are aware of how crucial it is to improve visitor experience, yet you often find old leaflets lying around museums and websites that have not been updated for several weeks if not months. Budget and digital skills constraints are often responsible for this. In some organisations the website and social media accounts are manned by volunteers so they might lack continuity and consistency, especially if the tasks are shared by several people. Tourism is a highly competitive industry; therefore the quality of visitor experience is key to revenue. Using tourism data, Euromonitor International has ranked the world’s top 100 most-visited cities and London comes in at number four. London attracts more tourists than chic Paris and vibrant New York. A recent UK survey also places London in the top spot. Other popular destinations are Cambridge and Royal Windsor, especially with Asian visitors. Monitoring visitor experience is also crucial to cultural organisations. ALVA (Association of Leading Visitor Attractions), which this year is celebrating 25 years, is the professional and lobby organisation representing museums, galleries, palaces, castles, cathedrals, zoos, historic houses, heritage sites and leisure attractions. Its members comprise over 2200 tourist sites that boast over 119 million domestic and overseas visitors each year. ALVA’s 2014 report...
Tips for taking great Instagram photos on the go

Tips for taking great Instagram photos on the go

With over 200 million users, Instagram is now one of the most popular social media apps, doing for photography what Twitter did for blogging – giving users a mass platform with which to easily take, edit and share micro content. Modelled on the Polaroid photos of old, Instagram photos and videos are a distinctive square shape, with the added bonus of a set of packaged ‘filters’, which can be used to easily enhance your pictures. Whether you just want to share great looking photos of your activities with your friends and family, or if you’re just aiming for more followers, there are a few basic tips that will help you take great Instagram photos wherever you are. Photography basics and Instagram specifics In one of our last blog posts, we discussed a few ways you can improve your outdoor photography. Two of the most relevant here include abiding the ‘golden hours’ rule and the ‘rule of thirds’ – respectively due to smartphone cameras generally being lower quality than digital cameras (though this is changing), and due to the peculiarly square nature of an Instagram snap. Continuing with our casual photography series, we want to explore the specificities of ‘Instagramming’ when you’re on the move. It’s good to be familiar with these photography basics, but there’s also a few rules specific to phone pictures, and Instagram in particular. Use your inbuilt camera app One secret great ‘Instagrammers’ keep is that they don’t actually use Instagram to take most of their photographs: they use the native camera app that came with the smartphone. There’s a number of distinct advantages to this,...
How to take interesting outdoor photographs

How to take interesting outdoor photographs

Whether you’re taking in the sights of London’s most renowned historic buildings or enjoying the serene landscapes of Britain’s countryside, taking some excellent outdoor photographs is a great way to remember your adventure and inform your friends about your explorations on social media. While you don’t have to be a professional photographer wielding a £2000+ camera to take a great photograph, there are some important rules to abide by if you want your photographs to be just as vivid and beautiful as the memories you have. The golden hours There are two specific time periods during the day which are ideal for taking outdoor photographs: the hour after the sun comes up and the hour before it goes down. There’s something incredibly enchanting about photographs which are taken during the golden hours, arguably because the gentle lighting creates a soft touch which is not replicable at other times of the day. The shadows casted by buildings, trees and vegetation during the golden hours also help to create a magical ambience. While it’s not always convenient to go exploring during these hours, you should still take the time of day into account. For instance, photographs taken in the midday sun tend to have a harshness about them which is not particularly pleasant, so try aim for the morning or late afternoon/evening. Rule of thirds Creating balance in your photographs is important, and this can be achieved by implementing the tried and tested ‘rule of thirds’. The rule advocates dividing the image into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, using imaginary lines to balance the picture. It is suggested that for landscape...
Maximising your touring experience: finding the right battery life solution

Maximising your touring experience: finding the right battery life solution

We believe that our app offers the ultimate touring experience by combining the old with the new. We are, however, aware that it is ultimately limited by the capabilities of contemporary hardware; specifically, battery life. The typical smartphone battery will last around 4-5 hours with continuous GPS use, which is generally enough for our walking tours, though you could be cutting it fine. Whilst technology is improving quickly all the time and new, better smartphones are released year after year, it may be the case that a bit of battery life management is required over the course of a walk. This can be done in a number of ways through the phone software itself: you can lower your screen brightness, for example, or maybe close background apps you aren’t using. There might even be a ‘battery saving’ mode available on your phone. However, there are other ways to maximise battery life – inexpensive portable charging equipment, for example, of which there are a number of types. The general principle is that they remain a mobile, unused battery source that a phone low on power can draw charge from if necessary. They can therefore at least double your phone’s battery life, and offer a perfect, easy solution to the issue of ‘power-range’. Choosing a portable charger There are a few important things to look out for when choosing a portable charging solution. Firstly, you want to be sure that a portable charger has the same power capacity as your phone, if not more. The reason for this is that you ideally should be able to get an extra ‘full charge’...