THUNDER BAY – The world is changing. Tourism is changing. In Montreal, the city’s tourism efforts have, over the past two years made a transition from web and paper to just web. Some of what is making a huge difference are the growing numbers of smart phones and handheld devices. The Apple Itouch and Ipad, the Blackberry Torch are putting a world of information right at the fingertips of potential travelers.
There are free apps, think of them as add-ons for these devices that allow a tourist to grasp information in the palm of their hand, and allow the latest updates to be instantly available. Go Explore Canada is a multimedia app created by a Canadian production company with deep roots in film and television production. The app covers travel anywhere in Canada (including the high Arctic) with extensive listings in all ten provinces and three territories, many with multimedia. It’s a free download from the Apple App Store and Android Market. The producers – Go Explore Everywhere Inc – have loaded it with the top natural wonders and travel attractions of Canada. They also sell listings to the top restaurants, hotels and clubs. It already has 5,000 locations and more every day.
Its actually affordable too, for $7,900 a year you can get your own self-branded app featuring a map that has up to 50 multimedia “points of interest” (POIs). Here in Thunder Bay for $150.00 per business, fifty companies could be listed on the app for the region.
Thunder Bay’s Manager of Tourism, Paul Pepe states, “We are leading a consortium of regional tourism and provincial and federal funding partners in the development of a motorcycle and RV touring web enabled app for hand helds that would identify points of interest and services necessary for those travel segments”.
“We’ve also had discussions with several app developers to identify relevant opportunities for us as well. At the recent Chicago All Canada Show we displayed a QR (Quick Response) card that smart phone users could scan, saving the CanadasGreatOutdoors.com website into their smartphone for browsing later. We’ll be integrating the QR for visitthunderbay.com into our media where practical in the coming months”.
Users of Appolicious (www.appolicious.com) say Go Explore Canada is one of the top 10 Canadian apps: “So you’ve arrived in Canada. What next? This app has tours based on your province, city, and what kinds of tourism you’re into. I definitely can vouch that the Toronto tour hits all the major amusing activities/sites in the city and surrounding areas”.
The producers of Go Explore Canada have streamlined the latest version with new Category searches that allow users to easily zero in on what they want to find anywhere in the country. One of the challenges was to build an app this big and make sure it didn’t crash. But working with their software developers, the producers have come up with an app that occupies little space on the phone and runs fast. “We wanted to make an app that’s the one to have if you’re travelling in Canada,” says Mark Pedersen, one of the two Maritime brothers who have expanded their media production company to include multimedia apps.
The more than 5,000 Points of Interest are searchable by province, territory and city with sections for nature and adventure, history, fun things to do, eating, sleeping, night life, transportation, essential services and more.
Each POI has a pin on the map, address, phone number, description and direct link to its web site that can be surfed without losing your place on the app tour. The sites can also buy embedded multimedia that plays instantly off their listing.
Go Explore Canada has been so successful that the producers have also begun selling branded map-based apps to other clients in three different sizes. All their apps come with patented Tour Builder software developed by their U.S. partner, Bar Z Adventures. The software allows app clients to change the content as often as they like simply by logging on to the dedicated server with their password.
Go Explore Everywhere Inc. is a joint effort of brothers Jon and Mark Pedersen who have years of Canadian film and television production experience, including the Canadian Antiques Roadshow, documentaries for CBC, CTV and IFC and Jon’s feature film Tuesday, Wednesday.