In the framework of the Comenius project “Mankind in Motion – Challenges and Opportunities,” our school in Riga had the opportunity to receive partners from Austria, France, Germany and Sweden. One of the main phases of the project was devoted to tourism as a form of migration. Of course, our primary aim was to show our guests Riga, as this year’s European Capital City of Culture 2014.
Our history teacher, Mrs. Konovalova, developed an orienteering game, Old Riga, for our guests that worked perfectly well. Soon after, travelling in the UK, I had a chance to take part in a very similar game for tourists myself. However, this time, the orienteering game was in the form of a mobile phone application.
I personally tested such apps as ‘Dozens & Trails’ in Birmingham, ‘Eye Shakespeare’ in Stratford-upon-Avon, and some free apps in London, and came to the conclusion that we really need something similar to these in Riga.
Luckily, Riga, with its culture capital city designation, is providing more and more free Wi-Fi. In addition to greater comfort and ease, there are a lot of benefits free Wi-Fi can give to historical center. For instance, there is the possibility to use mobile phone apps such as self-guided tours. There are many reasons why such apps are getting more and more popular among tourists in Europe.
After a guided tour, people are usually given a couple of free hours in a city they do not know to investigate, and such an app can help a lot of these people in an attempt to spend this limited time more efficiently. In addition, some travellers simply prefer to be on their own.
Just imagine an interactive map of Old Riga on your mobile, telling you things like “you are here,” and offering different ways to get somewhere, and pointing out interesting sights, depending on your interests. These could be, for Riga, the Jugendstyle architecture, national cuisine hotspots, famous hotels, or souvenir shops, among other things.
In other words, free mobile phone apps represent very good tools for tourists, and would offer a new marketing channel for advertising.
Open challenge: Why not to develop such an app that would be useful for the guests to the city. It might become a win-win situation both for companies advertising their products, and for tourists, who will be able to see more of what they really want.
A self-test for you to try to answer some questions from the orienteering game developed by history teacher Mrs. Konovalova:
1) 3,500-year-old contemporary of Tutankhamen lies opposite a waterfall. Touch the eternity and tell us what it is. (On Jaunavas Street).
2) There is a legendary French person proclaiming independence in the Town Hall Square. What is his name? What do you know about him?
3) There is a spear at the entrance of the ‘Rozengrals’ restaurant. A spear is a useful instrument for fighting, but not only. A lot of peaceful citizens knew how to use these spears wisely. Guess how they did it in the Middle Ages and explain what it tells you about Rozena Street?