GPS it and they will come

Paul Boag

Have you noticed just how many people have satellite navigation systems in their cars these days? Still more have hand held devices that they use while cycling and walking. The majority of these devices allow users to download or manually enter points of interest. Does your organisation have points of interest people should know about?

Points of Interest

As you may have already gathered from this blog I have recently purchased a TomTom Go 300. It is a portable satellite navigation system that can be used while walking or in the car. Like many such devices it allows me to add points of interest and it wasnt long before I was surfing the web trying to find points of interest to add. What I discovered is there is a huge community of people collating and sharing POI on a variety of different subjects from National monuments to Burger Kings. Sites like POI handler and POI place were packed with locations to download. However many of the locations I was interested in downloading were either incomplete or simply not available.

Geo Caching

As I looked further I also came across a hobby which was totally new to me; Geo Caching. Apparently all around the country enthusiasts have hidden little boxes of "treasure". Often they include a few odds and ends as well as a pen and paper so you can show you managed to visit the "cache". The idea is that using just the GPS position you hunt down the cache as a kind of treasure hunt. Normally the caches are hidden at the end of a nice countryside walk and so encourage people to get out and about. There are some excellent sites that cater to this new "hi-tech" hobby including, however like the POI the available caches was often limited.

Driving visitors to your sites

It was at this point I started to think about some of my clients. Headscape does a large amount of its work in the heritage and tourism sectors including clients such as the National Trust and Countryside Agency. It occured to me that organisations like this are always seeking ways to promote their locations and to encourage more visitors. It would be an easy process to convert their extensive databases of attractions, accommodation, places to eat ect. into downloadable POI that could be used by anybody with a GPS device. Not only would it be an excellent resources for the growing number of GPS users it would also be an excellent way of driving visitors to their locations.

The same applied with the GeoCaches. Although slightly more work was involved in setting up a caches it was still a quick and easy way of promoting a key location.

In short, if you are looking for ways to attract visitors to the locations you promote then GPS provides a quick and easy way of generating visitors for minimal investment.