Lanzarote is the easternmost of the Canary Islands, a land of sun and sand situated roughly 80 miles off the African coast. People from around the world visit the island to relax on the beach, see historical sites and witness the natural wonders of this picturesque island.
It all sounds beautiful, but how do you get people to visit Lanzarote? After all, the island competes for the tourist dollar with hundreds of other island vacation spots around the world.
Thinking out of the box, Centers of Arts, Culture and Tourism of Lanzarote (EPEL — CACT) wanted to differentiate itself as a global tourist attraction. The organization dreamed of a solution that would revamp the tourist experience in Lanzarote by allowing visitors to navigate the island dynamically, immerse themselves in local culture, dining and history and tailor the experience to their own interests.
CACT adopted a cognitive mobile app, developed by IBM Business Partner Red Skios S.A., which is based on IBM Watson with a cloud-based application platform using IBM Bluemix as its host in the IBM hybrid cloud. The app is built for Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems, and draws from several application programming interfaces (APIs) through the IBM Watson Developer Cloud and IBM Bluemix platform to build an understanding of what tourists want to see on Lanzarote, how they experience the island and which services to recommend.
The app acts much like a personal concierge, using natural language processing (NLP) to converse with the user, translating spoken words into text and then responding with relevant recommendations for nearby attractions as tourists explore the island.
The solution uses the conversation to understand individual tourist’s sightseeing style and interests. And just as important, the system learns from each interaction it has with the user, and gains insights into the tourist’s personal interests, preferences, sightseeing style and more.
Now when tourists visit Lanzarote, they can create the perfect vacation, tailored to their interests. In addition, the mobile app offers integration with social media, area maps and weather conditions. It can even forecast crowds at each venue. As a result, CACT expects to increase the experiences and expectations of the nearly 3 millions of tourists from around the world who visit the Centers of Arts, Culture and Tourism. And the solution establishes a feedback mechanism that indicates what’s working and where improvement is needed.
The CACT team, IBM and Red Skios is now working to convert this app into a global app for the whole destination, so that tourists interested in outdoor activities may find suggestions of nearby trails, a bike rental shop, and even a restaurant near the end of the trail. Or for a rainy day, the app can suggest an indoor venue, such as a museum, for history buffs. The solution guides tourists to appealing venues, events, restaurants and natural highlights based on what they want to see and do.
Unless they sign up for a tour package, people are typically on their own when they travel. They need to research and plan their own itineraries beforehand. And they often rely on outdated travel books or websites and word of mouth in planning their holidays.
CACT is changing the way people travel. The personal concierge mobile app technology creates a competitive advantage for Lanzarote and the Canary Islands. The mobile solution raises the bar and sets new standards for tourism and destination travel worldwide.