The first in a series of open conversations between tech companies and Visitor Economy businesses has taken place with some immediate learning for both sides. My key takeaways from the session that featured Liverpool City Region businesses Qbunk, Avenista/ Yooqoo, The Art School and Draw & Code are as follows:
For the tech start up/ developer
Nothing beats research and testing
The tech doesn’t start with the tech, it starts with the problem. Paul Wilson form Qbunk demonstrated this brilliantly. Not from a tech background he started talking to people about his idea to understand if it was a service people wanted. This research demonstrated a need for his product. He then set about testing it via Whatsapp to evidence adoption and give him the information that he needed to go to investors. Only at this point did he start to build the tech that is Qbunk. And now this mobile app is in the testing phase ahead of scaling the business.
Tech isn’t always the solution
It was interesting to hear from Paul Askew of The Art School about how he is always conflicted when adopting new tech. Improving efficiencies and saving money are obviously big wins for a business owner, but not at the expense of losing the look and feel of your venue or the experience of your customers.
Education comes before a sale
As Phil Charnock from Draw & Code demonstrated, the art of the possible has to be communicated to a non-tech audience in order to engage them in its benefits. Immersive tech comes in many guises and the benefits to a key sector, such as Visitor Economy, have to be drawn out specifically for this audience. And even within this sector the needs will be very different from a restaurant to a live events venue to a museum.
For the hospitality industry
Tell the tech providers what your problem is, not what you need
Thinking you need an ecommerce website could set you off on a journey that you don’t need to go on. If instead you said you wanted to find new ways to reach customers you may be able to link to a platform that already exists to sell your products, or you may be able to add a QR Code to your menu that gives information on other products you sell. Knowing the options will help you decide the best route for you and your budget.
The new normal is ever evolving and you need to evolve with it
As Kerry Beswick from Avenista pointed out, going out is an exciting prospect after months of lockdown so people may be prepared to stand in a queue to get into a venue. This novelty will soon wear off though and customers will be put off if they have to stand in the cold or rain or they have no guarantee of seeing the friends that they have gone to meet. His new product Yooqoo helps venues to plan for their customers and helps customers to plan for their nights out.
You don’t need to make all the investment yourself
As off the shelf solutions such as Qbunk and Yooqoo demonstrate, someone else can take the risks so you don’t have to. You can access the latest developments of platforms or applications by signing up on a subscription basis. This saves investing in something that is likely to need changing as the conditions and your business evolve.
New technology doesn’t need to be scary or expensive
Phil Charnock’s run through of various immersive tech options showed that the technology could be useful both in day to day situations as well as one off showpieces. Enhancing your customers’ experience through the use of augmented reality will appeal to certain clientele who use this sort of tech in applications like Snapchat. Being able to bring a museum piece alive through immersive sound and visuals will leave your customer with a memorable experience that they will want to share.
These points illustrate that for the hospitality industry entry level tech adoption can be affordable and flexible and we have a rich tech business ecosystem only too willing to help you achieve your ambitions.
There are funded programmes such as: LCR4 Start to help businesses take their first steps on their digital journey; New Markets 2 which may be able to contribute up to 35% of the cost of commercial advice to undertake a new project; and the new LCR Future Innovation Fund that wants to invest in the innovative businesses that have solutions to overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic and can commercialise new products quickly.
If you have a tech solution for the Visitor Economy or if you are a hospitality business looking for tech solutions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org about how to get involved in the conversation and future webinars.