The new era of visitor guides

3 min read

It’s a bold claim to say that traditional printed media is dead, and digital is king. From both ends of the spectrum you will hear passionate arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’.

From our perspective, our product is designed and optimised for digital. This is where we can deliver content in a highly immersive way, to the right people. It enables the user to choose what content they consume, what’s relevant to them, and then gives them the practical tools to make it happen.

Perfect, so why would you need any other tool in your marketing belt?

For the tourism industry in particular, when a visitor is on-the-ground, printed materials can be an effective way to start the ‘conversation’. Think of it as a physical way to reach out to a visitor, a friendly way to spark curiosity and encourage an engagement. Like a shop window, it can be effective at getting the attention of passing traffic. The impact of something tangible, that people can touch and hold, can also not be dismissed – its gives them a sense of confidence and security.

So, as a medium for encouraging a physical engagement with content, it ticks the boxes. But is that enough?

Printed materials alone are not capable of being everything to everyone, and it’s time that destination marketers opened their eyes to new opportunities. 

Rather than carrying the full weight of an advertising budget on its shoulders, print is effective when considered as a means to a physical touch point with visitors. It is not a medium for telling your story and facilitating discovery and exploration. This is where a digital content experience comes into play. Content can be filtered to see only what’s relevant to them, and rich media (such as videos or audio) can sit alongside practical information (opening hours, links and directions).

Digital content tools however, can take visitors deeper, offering layers of rich media content for them to uncover. Search and filtering can put the visitor in control of the type of content they want to consume, and planning tools – favourite, share and save – facilitate action.

Let’s put the beloved ‘suggested itineraries’ under the spotlight for a moment. This is your opportunity to excite, and fuel a desire to wander. If you are relying on the static content and images in your brochure to do that, then you are missing out on the opportunity to draw the visitor into your story and take them along on the journey. Rather, an immersive piece of content has the power to delight in a way that static printed content cannot.

For all of print’s weaknesses, there are lots of digital content tools at your disposal to amplify reach, encourage engagement and facilitate conversion. When thinking about your marketing budget, consider a 20% reduction in the quantity of printed materials, and invest that into a powerful digital content experience for your visitors.

Written by Zoe Manderson

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