Sóller: working together to promote and enhance tourism

The city

Sóller is a Spanish municipality of about 10,000 inhabitants, near the west coast of the Balearic Island of Mallorca. Tourists arrive numerous to visit the city, the beautiful valley and its surrounding mountain range, the “Serra de Tramuntana”, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2011. The Hotel Association of Sóller gathers 20 local hotels, collaborating with the municipality to promote the city’s cultural and natural richness.

The challenge

Tourism is crucial for the city’s economy. Numerous private and public entities work together to offer the best services to visitors, especially during the summer season, going from mid March to the end of October. These were looking for ways to face the budget cuts imposed by the economic crisis while keeping the level of the tourist service and ideally increasing the number of visitors. The idea was to offer a free platform to collect and disseminate information about the city’s cultural and natural richness, which would also enable tourism managers to better know locals’ and visitors’ needs in order to plan future promotion and marketing strategies.

The satellite solution

Mobile apps are relatively cheap to develop and allow for the creation of targeted and collaborative services. This was the case of the Municipality of Sóller, which had the idea to create “Watch About!” a mobile app providing geolocalised audio and video information in real time while visiting the city. The app has been developed through collaboration amidst the Municipality, the Regional Ministry of Tourism of the Balearic Islands, the Hotel Association of Sóller, and other local companies in the tourist sector. Such entities (hotels, museums, cultural centres, associations of restaurants, taxis, bars, etc.) geolocalised on Google and Bing maps their own position and provide audio and video contents on their respective activities.

The app is downloadable for free. Thanks to the GPS built in mobile phones, it automatically indicates to visitors not only the points of interests within a 15-metres radius, but also updated information on current events and activities in Sóller, together with transport information and public facilities. Visitors also have the possibility to create their own audio guides with their places of interest prior to or during their trip. The app will then launch the relevant contents while users are walking around and enjoying the landscapes. Watch About has been especially conceived for foreigners and is hence available in Spanish/Castilian, English, German and French.

The result

The app is being launched in the spring of 2013 with all its contents uploaded. Unlike traditional paper guides, it allows visitors to collect information while walking or biking. Moreover, it permits both public and private entities in the tourism sector to avoid producing new up-to-date tourist materials (like guides and brochures) each year, thus enabling important savings both in terms of money and time. Updates can now be poured directly into the app, with no additional costs. In the future, the idea is to enable users to also access guides created by other people and to implement a bike-sharing system that will be complementary to the app.

“The mobile app will enhance the tourist experience in Sóller, while boosting local business with minimum investment”Lluís Rullan Oliver, Hotel Association Sóller.