SMART CITY TOURISM: DEMOCRATIZING MONUMENT STORIES

Smart city

What is smart tourism? Let us first experience a facet of smart tourism ourselves. Pull out your smart phone, scan this QR code, and let your phone play the Grand Taj Mahal Walking Tour. The Google map shows the Taj complex displaying a walking track with numbered stop points. Go ahead and follow the walking track. At each numbered stop point, tap on the balloon to listen to the audio stories with visuals. When you are physically close to any stop point, your phone GPS automatically triggers the relevant story, streaming it right into your ears as your eyes soak in the visual delights.

Smart Tourists:  Today's’ tourists are smart – they use a variety of apps to plan their journey, book accommodation, get their favourite food, and find their locations of interest on google map. Visitors don’t want to download an app for every attraction. Once they reach a chosen attraction spot, they expect an equally smart app to enhance their visitor experience.  Now they can use the smart izi.TRAVEL app and access the stories about various tourist attractions at their own convenient pace and time – before, during, as well as after a visit. The smart izi.TRAVEL app elevates the visitors’ experience and enriches their knowledge of the monuments that they visit.

Should we transmit story on a granite slab or QR code played on visitor’s smart phone or add QR code on granite slab?

Smart App: This technology by izi.TRAVEL provides every visitor access to the stories about a monument without the need for an expert guide’s service. This democratizes access to the stories behind the monuments providing equal opportunity to everyone. The authentic facts, history, and cultural details of a monument are made available to every tourist, and not just to a privileged class that can afford a professional tour guide. Also, every visitor can enjoy the tour without any special audio device, using one’s own smartphone.

Smart Guides: It may appear that this smart app may make the job of tour guides obsolete. However, the izi.TRAVEL story telling platform is designed to enhance the capabilities of tour guides and make them smart by adopting new technologies. The izi.TRAVEL platform provides tools to the tour guides to record their tours and publish them for a fee. Today, there are several tour guides who make over US$ 1000/- by selling their audio tours on izi.TRAVEL. More enterprising tour guides can record their own tour and share the QR code only with their guests when they take them out on a guided tour. This way, tour guides have an Audio Broadcasting System using guest’s phone and the visitors can listen to their unique stories in different languages. This enables them to upgrade themselves as smart guides by responding to their visitors’ more engaging questions. A tour guide is thus transformed from a monotonous story-teller to an Engaging Experience Provider (EEP). The tourists will pay a premium for such customized services! Even a taxi driver can be a guide!

Smart Museums: Several museums and art galleries have already taken advantage of this technology. Today, there are over 2000 museums all over the world who have published their tours on izi.TRAVEL platform. The first to exploit this advanced technology is the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. In Dec 2018, izi.TRAVEL launched a strategic partnership with the Russian internet giant Yandex, to utilize its intelligent personal assistant Alice to tell stories. Alice now uses izi.TRAVEL API to play audio excursions in major Russian museums such as Pushkin Museum of Art, Tretyakov Gallery, and others. For Indian Museums to become smart with voice activated storytelling, an extremely simple solution is to have a QR code affixed to every single art object. Visitors can listen to the exhibit stories by scanning the QR code with the izi.TRAVEL app on their mobile. The visitors’ experience becomes enriched, interactive, and engaging! The job of museums’ staff is minimized, as there are no more personal devices to be maintained, sterilized, provided to the visitors, and taken back. Instead, they can publish audio guides in izi platform and make the visitors to the Museum very happy.

Smart Management: Many cities are besieged with the problem of over-crowding of popular tourist destinations. In Agra, for example, most tourists head straight to Taj Mahal, often resulting in an unmanageable overcrowding there. This can be solved by diverting these tourists to other nearby attractions by telling stories about them and encouraging the tourists to visit them. Thus, tourists spend more time in a city benefiting all the stakeholders. Notifications can be sent to tourists to inform them about overcrowded attractions and encourage them to visit nearby less crowded ones. In this way, tourist spread in a city becomes more even.

Smart City: The Tourism Department can enhance the nature of a smart city by affixing QR code plates to every single monument, tourist attraction, archaeology object, museum, zoo, art galleries etc in a city. The visitor simply scans the QR code and enjoy listening to the story about the particular object. This further makes the city smart and enlighten the visitors. The izi.TRAVEL platform also has a feature by which any one can record monument stories by standing near the object and publish it. This enables the younger generation to contribute to the nation while learning its history, culture, traditions, facts and figures.

With izi.TRAVEL, enjoy listening to over 10,000 FREE guided tours (includes 2100 Museums) in 2,250 cities spread over 100 countries in any of 58 languages. With izi.TRAVEL as your guide, visit any monument anywhere, anytime at your own pace. izi.TRAVEL story telling platform is FREE for Tourism Departments & Museums to publish their audio tours.