Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), is one of the most famous spa towns in the world: it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the largest spa complex in Europe. The local authorities wanted to lead tourists out of the overcrowded Colonnade and decided on an innovative approach. They created self-guided tours on SmartGuide to evenly spread tourists around. They also chose inspirational ways of promoting their digital audio guide to independent travelers.
1. All the interesting places in Karlovy Vary are connected through an app
Pavlína Kyselová from the Tourist Information Centre in Karlovy Vary was actually one of the first users of SmartGuide’s content management system (CMS). Karlovy Vary started with publishing 4 tours, but since adding new content on SmartGuide is super easy, there are now almost 30 different tours guiding tourists around the spa town!
An entire concept of VARY Metro was created - this is an imaginary network of “metro stops”, built on SmartGuide. These stops represent real-life places of interest in Karlovy Vary. Each tour aims at different target audiences, showcasing the most famous sights as well as the hidden gems only the locals know about. The content is available in 5 languages.
2. GPS-triggered audio and promotion of the City Card partners
SmartGuide covered 90% of the functionality that Karlovy Vary needed. The spa town also wanted to add its City card to SmartGuide, so this functionality was created and added to SmartGuide based on Karlovy Vary’s request.
As a result, the “LEISURE” tour around Karlovy Vary on SmartGuide consists of the places that offer the City Card benefits. Whenever visitors approach a place of interest, SmartGuide’s audio notification beeps, triggered by precise geolocation. The places supporting the City card benefits are clearly labeled in the SmartGuide app. That way, people are much more likely to use the City Card and the benefits it provides throughout various local establishments.
This demonstrates how useful it is to think creatively about the layout and objectives of a digital guide’s content. Not only can it bring more revenue to local businesses, but it also helps spread visitors more evenly in the area.
3. Digital and offline destination marketing content inline
Each visitor to the tourist information center in town can obtain a QR code together with a free printed map. This map outlines the 4 main tours and explains how to use SmartGuide’s GPS-triggered audio content to learn immersive stories that auto-play when walking around the town.
Even if the tourist information center is closed, the poster and QR code sticker on the door allows visitors to embark upon an individual tour with a private guide on their phones.
4. Promote little-known places to visitors through social media
In a bid to inspire visitors as well as locals to discover little-known places in Karlovy Vary, the tourist information center announced a successful Facebook competition. People visited hidden gems thanks to SmartGuide and the digital guide of Karlovy Vary raised in popularity.
The digital guide of Karlovy Vary even caught the attention of Užít Česko, a popular series about Czech tourist destinations by ÓČKO TV.
5. Build an entire tourism ecosystem on the SmartGuide platform
The representatives of Karlovy Vary are well aware of how valuable data provided by SmartGuide is for the data-driven destination management they aim for. Therefore they make conscious efforts and campaigns to include more and more tourism subjects in the local tourism ecosystem built on SmartGuide. The objective is to eventually get more visitors to use the app and obtain more accurate data.
For example, the tourist information center organizes workshops for the local hotels, management and concierge staff included, to present the advantages of having a custom digital audio guide for hotel guests. The tourist information center also distributed SmartGuide stickers to the hotels. Moreover, they created special flyers with a tourist’s bucket list in Karlovy Vary and distributed them around the local hotels as well. Conveniently enough, each of the bucket list’s points is on SmartGuide. The flyers also include hand-illustrated instructions on how to download the app. (screenshot of the flyer+sticker on hotel door).
6. Self-guided tours that help UNESCO fans and war refugees
To attract various audiences, Karlovy Vary keeps reinventing and enriching its digital tour guide. They add more places of interest, and thematic tours and use every opportunity to inspire visitors to consume their content on SmartGuide.
To build on Carlsbad’s recently gained status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and to accommodate visitors who come specifically because of it, the town launched a special UNESCO tour.
To engage the spa visitors and locals, several walking tours in Carlsbad’s nature were created. And when the refugee crisis hit Karlovy Vary in March 2022, a special SmartGuide tour was prepared in the Ukrainian language. This particular digital tour guide features practical navigation around the city including hospitals, police stations, municipal offices, schools, and more.
7. Data-driven destination marketing as a one-way road
Once destinations realize the many possibilities of embracing big data, it will be a point of no return for them. Karlovy Vary creates opportunities for its visitors to install SmartGuide and actively use it when exploring the town. In return, they get valuable information about their visitors’ movement, engagement with different places of interest, and demographics.
That’s why the tourist information center added new interactive touchscreens with the SmartGuide destination widget to their premises, and added the widget also to their website.
It’s no wonder Karlovy Vary won the Czech Rise Up competition in 2020, organized by the Czech Ministry of Industry to promote Czech tourist destinations during the COVID19 pandemic. The city is truly innovative in its promotion to visitors and its approach is inspiring to other destinations that aim to leverage data-driven destination marketing and management.
Are you inspired by Karlovy Vary as well? :)
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