R.I. tourism groups going mobile

'It's only a gimmick if people don't use it the way it is intended.'

It’s long been known that the ladies room can be a place where ideas – and more than those centered on gossip or shopping recommendations – can be shared. So it wasn’t surprising to Ruth Taylor, executive director of the Newport Historical Society, that an advertisement for the organization’s new mobile guidebook placed on a lavatory wall garnered quite the positive reaction. More

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Focus: TECHNOLOGY

R.I. tourism groups going mobile

'It's only a gimmick if people don't use it the way it is intended.'

COURTESY NEWPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY THE NEWPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S ‘Explore Historic Newport’ is a Web-based application that was developed to allow tourists on-the-go info from cellphones.
Posted 7/30/12

It’s long been known that the ladies room can be a place where ideas – and more than those centered on gossip or shopping recommendations – can be shared.

So it wasn’t surprising to Ruth Taylor, executive director of the Newport Historical Society, that an advertisement for the organization’s new mobile guidebook placed on a lavatory wall garnered quite the positive reaction.

“[This woman] came out all excited. She photographed and accessed the [site] code. We hope there’s a lot of that,” Taylor said. “It’s [only] a gimmick if people don’t use it the way it is intended and we really won’t know that for a while yet.”

“Explore Historic Newport,” the society’s foray into mobile tourism that has put it ahead of the curve for agencies and businesses in this area, launched in early July.

Taylor calls it a combination of guidebook and virtual exhibit of historic Newport and its structures that tourists can hold in their hands as they walk around the city.

“We wanted to give people an opportunity to be walking around Newport to get information about what they see on the street and it’s nearly impossible in a face-to-face way,” Taylor said. “We were a little surprised to be able to be [leaders].”

But leaders they are in that the tour – a Web-based application – is one visitors can take on their own, entirely self-guided, at their pace alone and based exclusively on their preferences.

There are 50 Newport sites included.

Though it’s not a mobile application – commonly referred to as an “app” by avid smartphone users, it’s closer to one than other tourism business leaders have gone.

But those leaders say there’s a perfectly good reason for that.

“We, over the last two years, looked at mobile websites versus mobile apps and our research told us, definitely and definitively, that websites were a higher priority,” said Evan Smith, executive director of Discover Newport, the marketing organization for Newport County. “Apps are coming in all shapes and sizes [but] I think websites are outpacing apps at a fairly significant pace.”

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