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Big Stories, Small Footprint: Apps for Outdoor Attractions

Published: 1 May 2024

Attraction Types: Open-Air Museums, Ancient Ruins/Archaeological Sites, Outdoor Heritage Sites, Botanical Gardens, Zoos, National Parks.

ATS Case Studies: Highclere Castle, Balmoral Castle, South Downs National Park, Darent Valley, Hylands Estate, and Glastonbury Way.

In today's tech-driven environment, many visitor attractions are looking for innovative ways to engage their visitors. One of the most frequent questions we get from outdoor attractions is: "Should we develop an app-based trail experience?”.

Here at ATS we don’t believe in proposing tech for tech’s sake. Our aim is to make sure you get the right solution for your attraction which is why we provide a considered evaluation of what your site needs, what your visitors needs and identify which tools will be most effective.

And sometimes that tech solution is already in your visitors’ hands – the smartphone – ready to provide a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) digital visitor experience.

In this article we look at the compelling reasons why outdoor visitor attractions might consider an app and explore the key features that can make it a true asset.

5 Reasons Why Apps Matter for Outdoor Visitor Attractions:

  1. Enhanced Visitor Engagement: When onsite devices can’t be offered, for example due to no physical building to operate from or staff available, apps can offer interactive features that transform passive observation into active exploration. This keeps visitors engaged and encourages a sense of discovery.
  2. Personalised Experiences: Apps can cater to individual interests. Visitors can customise their experience by choosing trails based on difficulty level, filtering points of interest based on specific categories (e.g. wildlife, trails/routes, historical sites), or setting personalised goals like logging wildlife sightings or following a trail with waypoints.
  3. Improved Accessibility & Inclusion: Apps can bridge the gap for visitors with disabilities; audio descriptions for those with visual impairments, close captions on videos for D/deaf of hard of hearing visitors), virtual tour videos for inaccessible areas. Apps can also offer content in multiple languages, catering to international visitors to create a more inclusive environment for everyone to enjoy.
  4. Real-Time Information: Apps can include widgets that provide up-to-date information on weather conditions, trail closures or special events. This allows the site to communicate with visitors for them to make informed decisions about their exploration and ensures safety by highlighting potential hazards.
  5. Data Collection and Insights: Apps can collect data on visitor behaviour, allowing you to gain insights into patterns of use, popular trails and stops and visitor demographics, helping inform future development projects, marketing strategies and resource allocation.

A well-designed app can provide many benefits, acting as a virtual tour guide, providing helpful wayfinding and orientation, enriching visitor engagement, enabling a connection with your offering and ultimately boosting your attraction's success.

To discover what features our App Development team think an outdoor visitor app should ideally incorporate take a look at our article: Apps: The Pocket-Sized Guide to Big Outdoor Experiences.

Our in-house team of designers and developers are here to create a solution for you that will ensure your visitors get the most memorable experience. So get in touch for a chat.

How can we help?