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Why Digitization is a Must for Tourism and How Driftscape Can Help

Updated: Jul 3

It's been over 6 months since  COVID-19 changed our lives. With the onset of the third stage of reopening, we are finally moving towards the “new normal”. But how much of this is going to be truly “normal” for the tourism sector? 


Statistics Canada reports a sharp fall in the number of travelers to Canada, along with a 14.2% first-quarter drop in tourism spending - the largest decline on record. 12.9% of this drop was directly attributable to decreased spending by Canadians. Domestic tourism accounts for nearly 79% of this spending, and a fall of this nature leads to a direct impact on the budgets of our municipalities, local destinations, and tourism boards. This has also had an unfortunate impact on our local businesses, forcing many of them to shut down. 


Last year Brockville had over 50 events between May and September and 8,965 visitors, this year we reported an approx. of only 600 visitors. Without that expected income from tourists, a lot of our local businesses  were forced to cut back on advertising or staff, and had to re-examine their strategies.” Says Kat Edgely, Tourism Specialist, Brockville & District Chamber of Commerce Tourism Organization.


Due to COVID, we are seeing a substantial change in traveling styles. People are more hesitant to go to densely populated destinations, while locals are afraid of outsiders visiting their towns. So what does this mean for tourism? Is there a way for the tourism sector to better manage crises like COVID-19 and support local businesses?


We examine these questions in this whitepaper and explore the power of advanced location-aware mobile technology to digitize visitor experiences. 


With the rapid evolution of the internet came a new era for tourism. The way many people look at travel today and the way they explore has evolved. The rise of digital platforms across many areas of the tourism industry, including tours, cultural experiences, and more, has made these digital trends central to our ecosystem. 


Today, digital platforms have significantly increased the options and opportunities available to travelers by creating a more personalized tourism experience, grounded in local knowledge. These sustainable travel options not only lend support to the long-term health of the industry but also to that of the local communities people enjoy visiting so much. 


Helping achieve this, is the Driftscape app (available on Android and iOS). It empowers organizations by leveraging their underutilized assets such as historic landmarks, cultural highlights, unique local businesses, events, etc., to tell stories in a uniquely engaging way. Driftscape helps organizations and destinations stay top of mind and places/businesses worth exploring.


The app also enables locals to rediscover their backyard in a whole new perspective, something that proved to be exceptionally useful during COVID. 


The “Why & How” of Digitization:


Shifting from a traditional tourism approach to modern-day, digital mobile marketing platforms can help organizations not only save on marketing dollars but is also a key recovery tool in times like the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Let's take a look at how the Driftscape app can help your organization achieve success: 


A Better Experience than a Website: 


While websites seem like the obvious solution to digitization, they are not necessarily the most effective ones.


While most sites can host your information and usually provide a mobile responsive interface, a website is a poor experience compared to an app built for multimedia storytelling and exploration. More importantly, more and more tourists are spending larger amounts of time on their smartphones as they explore destinations looking for hidden gems.


Cost Management and Real-Time Content Updates: 


Brochures and Visitor Guides have been a long-standing and recurring cost  for most tourism organizations. With an approximate cost of  (CAD) $656 for 5,000 budget brochures plus $2000 for an average quality designer, along with additional shipping charges, organizations are spending thousands of dollars per order. Early in 2019, the City of Brockville reported a cost of $50,000 in printing their visitor guides. This expense led to the need for added effort to secure paid ad spots in the guide to cope with the high printing costs.


Creating digital brochures and guides is an effective and environment-friendly alternative to traditional marketing, providing relief not only on the cost front but also in the effort and time involved. 


With the Driftscape app, you can take this a step further. Our user-friendly content management system helps organizations share their stories with a wider audience in an interactive way as well as gives them the ability to modify content anytime, at no additional cost; this eliminates the need for printed brochures/guides and provides substantial marketing budget savings. This, coupled with the Driftscape’s in-app notifications, allows organizations to tackle the volatile nature of the industry by sharing up-to-date/real-time information with their locals and visitors about their community.


Access to Advanced Analytics: 


Tourism sectors benefit from visitor analytics in many ways. Analytics help marketing teams build more targeted marketing campaigns, offer packages tailored to visitors' actual interests, and see the areas within their destination that are most popular. Analytics also play a crucial role in supporting funding requests that depend on this information.


With the help of Driftscape’s advanced analytics, organizations can access a plethora of information related to their visitors, ranging from their home location, linger time, what destinations within the region they most frequented, how far they traveled to visit your destination, and so much more. 


Augmented Reality: 


With over 3.5 billion smartphone users around the world, it is no surprise that the modern-day traveler explores with their mobile device. 


The Driftscape AR mode (available on iOS) helps take modern-day travel experiences a step further, allowing users to point their smartphone at a landmark or point of interest and learn more about it, in real-time, from a local’s perspective.


Convenient Travel Planning & Unique experiences: 


In 2019, 51% of US travelers said that when they decide to go on a trip they prefer to spend less than a week planning it and 36% said that they would like to have a guide to tell them where to go, what sites to see, and which tours can lead them to hidden gems and highlights where they are visiting.


By adding historical landmarks, local businesses, and other local hot spots to the Driftscape app, organizations can empower their visitors and locals with the convenience they desire. 



The app also helps users reduce travel planning time and increases visitor access to unique experiences. An example. of this is its location-aware notifications: the app notifies users of hidden gems and other points of interest around them as they explore. 


Driftscape’s interactive map and self-guided tours are a great way to increase your visitor engagement rates thereby increasing positive feedback, along with repeated and new visits to your destination.


Equipping your destination with the power of Driftscape, you are sure to succeed as a must-explore tourism destination while also successfully supporting your local businesses and helping your community to thrive in the long run.


A Brockville Case Study 


2020 was a year of change for the City of Brockville. With the pandemic, digitization became a matter of survival. Given this, the City of Brockville opted for a unique approach with the help of Driftscape - “Virtual Tourism”, showcasing their City and all its attractions, both natural and man-made in a uniquely engaging way; keeping Brockville top of mind when tourism reopened. 


COVID forced us to take a step back and helped us to realize that we were marketing to tourists in the same old way and made us see that we needed to change. The day Driftscape called me was the luckiest day of my life. They have been our partners through these challenging times and not to mention that the cost of Driftscape is so minimal when you compare it to other platforms, it’s amazing! Driftscape has been an extremely important resource for us, it gives visitors the ability to interact with our tourism organization the way they want, leaving Brockville on the cutting edge of Visitor Services! 

Says Katherine Hobbs, Tourism Manager at Brockville Tourism.


  • To read more on how Driftscape helped Brockville, click here.

  • For more information about our award-winning tourism solution click here

  • Prefer to learn it all in 30 minutes? Book a demo!


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