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Mobile Application, Department of Tourism, Uttar Pradesh

Introduction

The primary objective of the Uttar Pradesh State Tourist Development Corporation was to increase the inflow of tourists in the state by providing them with ample information about places of interest, and easy access to related facilities, such as hotels, mediums of transport, accommodation, food, and so on. Additionally, it also aims at organizing events and package tours in order to promote Uttar Pradesh as a favourable tourist destination.
It was under this banner that the concept of Heritage Arc was conceived: Heritage Arc strives to bring Uttar Pradesh’s principal tourist destinations, namely Agra, Varanasi and Lucknow to the forefront, and promote tourism in the places around them as well.
The State Tourism department already had an operational website. However, in order to ensure maximum reach and influence, they called upon the team for the development of a mobile application which would seek to eliminate all the cumbersome tasks that websites always come with.

Challenges

The biggest challenge the state department was faced with was the one of easy access for the people. No matter how dynamic, a website offers limited engagement as compared to a mobile application. Since a person cannot always have access to a desktop or a laptop, it is difficult to relay data to him/her, no matter what platforms the website is compatible with.
This also affects the reach of the project: since people do not have the means, the time, or even the disposition to power up a PC and visit the website, they prefer not visiting altogether, which then affects traffic on the website.
Additionally, data from a website is not accessible offline: a person would either have to copy it to another platform or connect to the internet every time he/she wants access to information. This defeats the purpose of getting information anytime and every time.
Another challenge that had the department stumped was getting details of events and places of importance, such as police stations, hospitals, restaurants, and so on to the people. There was no way to present vital information to the people at the same time they were accessing details about the place of interest.

Solution

The team’s application sought to defeat the above mentioned challenges through the development of a simple, straightforward app. However, it also did not want to create a static application that would update only when the app was changed. They wanted to create a dynamic, on-to-go app which would stay updated with the latest bits of information about every place.
For this purpose, run-time tiles were created for the app. As opposed to a pre-defined set that starts to get stagnant after some time, a dynamic tile app updates and conforms to the needs of the customer.
In order to get information to the viewer in real time, push notifications and ads were created for the app. This meant that any user who had the app installed in his/her phone could get information about events and places as soon as word got out.
Keeping with the concept of giving information anytime, anywhere, and every time, the app allowed people to download data for one complete destination for offline viewing. This meant that a tourist interested in visiting Lucknow could download information about places of interest in the entire city and view them offline. Till date, the app has provisions for people to download details about one destination only, but over time, it will expand to allow people to download multiple destinations at once.
Additionally, the app comes with an inbuilt GPS feature, which allows people to locate places of importance near the destination, such as police stations, hospitals, and restaurants. The app also has a direct call feature for times of emergency, so people can call to the nearest source of help.
The most unique feature of the app is Augmented Reality, or AR. Often times, tourists do not have enough information about a place to qualify it as a place of interest. This inadvertently results in them often missing out on a fulfilling travel experience. The Augmented Reality feature will allow a person to get information about a place, if any, by simply pointing the phone camera at the monument. The feature will, in a sense, ‘recognize’ the monument, and give the user all details about it.
Apart from this, the app also allows users to look up destinations and places based on keywords, to enable them to look for destinations they are interested in directly. Tourists can also book cabs, taxis, and hotels from the app. Registered people will also get bonus points on certain transactions

Benefits

  • The biggest benefit of the app is that it will increase the reach of the State Department’s initiative to promote tourism in Uttar Pradesh. By eliminating the need to connect to the internet to access a website that may not be compatible with the visitor’s device, and presenting them with an easy access and operational app, the department will manage to reach a larger base of audience.
  • The offline data access feature allows people to download information about one destination, and all the places of interest in it, which further increase ease of access.
  • The dynamic interface provides an interesting and attractive look.Push notifications deliver information about upcoming events and happenings to people in real time.
  • The inbuilt GPS feature serves to help people out in times of emergency, and also allows them to locate places of help.
  • Users can share their travel diaries, made easily on the app, with others on various social media platforms.
  • Users can also book a car, hotel, or taxi from the app. Registered users are also eligible for cashback offers, bonus points and payback points.
  • The app is like a personal travel guide for the people, and will give them all information about a place.