Over the past few years there has been ever decreasing numbers of visitors entering visitor centres across the province. The Visitor Centre in Harrison Hot Springs is no exception. This trend has gone hand in hand with an increase in visitors using their mobile device to gain the information they need.
According to Robert Reyerse, executive director of Tourism Harrison “this trend has gone on for a number of years with fewer visitors in our visitor centre but with our website traffic growing at double digit rates.”
To counter this trend Tourism Harrison has placed a mobile visitor centre in the Harrison Plaza over the past three years. However, while this does have an impact to ensure visitors get the information they need it is only a partial answer.
“Our Visitor Centre, mobile visitor Centre and website offer a lot of good options for visitors but many visitors want more information and want it accessible 24/7” says Reyerse.
Based on the experience of Tourism Harrison, websites offer useful information, but even when optimized for mobile devices they have limits.
Looking at the experience of other destinations around the world the idea of a Harrison Hot Springs App was born. A dedicated App has the advantage of being specifically designed for mobile devices and allows a far better and more integrated experience for the visitors.
Reyerse, seeing a good fit with Destinations BC’s Innovation Grant program wrote a proposal in 2016 to implement an App for Harrison Hot Springs.
“In early January, we were notified that we had been successful in our grant application to fund the creation of the App and we began working with Canada’s Best Apps to develop the Harrison Hot Springs Visitor App.”
Since that time, the app has been developed and is currently in a “soft launch” phase where Tourism Harrison is testing the functionality of the App and the accuracy of all the content.
“We plan to finalize the app in the next couple of weeks and do a hard launch on June 15 just in time for the summer.”
The new App will cover all tourist attractions and features of the Harrison Hot Springs region, including several key attractions in the District of Kent such as Kilby’s, Circle Farm Tours and the Agassiz Harrison Museum among others.
The new app will contain a range of information from opening times, GPS based location finding, up to five pictures per listing and extensive information on products and services.
For the initial year, all businesses will be given a free listing on the App, however starting in 2018 the Chamber of Commerce will subsidize listing for Chamber members and non-Chamber members will have to pay to be on the App.
“The App software has annual fees and maintenance costs and accordingly Tourism Harrison will need to charge businesses to cover these costs but we believe this will be a great new way for businesses to communicate and market their products and services to our visitors,” said Reyerse.