September 21, 2021
Last year, Guide by Cell partnered with Cincinnati Nature Center to launch an interactive smartphone guide that allowed visitors to navigate their trails in real-time using GPS Mapper, our mobile wayfinding solution.
In this 45-minute session, the Guide by Cell team interviewed Maria Jenkins, Cincinnati Nature Center’s Digital Learning Manager as well as Laura Schmid, Membership Manager, as they shared everything you should consider when implementing mobile guides and mapping solutions.
Plus, they unveiled their successful results from Cincy Nature’s recent mobile app launch.
Listen to experts from the Cincinnati Nature Center detail everything you should consider when implementing mobile guides and mapping solutions.
Here are some of the highlights from Cincinnati Nature Center’s use case:
Benefits of a Mobile Web App
“Some benefits of going the mobile web app route are first, there's nothing to download, so there are no trips to the App Store. It can be accessed either by scanning a QR code, providing a link, or by texting a keyword to a phone number and then receiving a link back to the mobile app. The app can be accessed on any device, whether that's your phone or tablet or something you can look at online on your computer. “
Cincinnati Nature’s Motivations for a Mobile Guide
“For many years, we had been looking for some kind of an app solution. First, we spend thousands of dollars on paper trail maps. We were interested in reducing those costs, especially since over the last 10 years, we’ve tripled our membership. Next, we’ve had challenges with AllTrails. We couldn't correct the trail errors on these crowdsourced apps. We wanted the ability to own our content and make changes. Meanwhile, our members have been asking for this for many years. And last, the pandemic really catapulted us into this decision. As soon as the pandemic hit, we pulled all of our paper maps off the grounds because we were concerned that germs would spread when visitors touched the maps.”
Cost Savings with a Mobile Map
“If somebody comes into our visitor center and asks for a paper map, we give them one, but it's not a free-for-all like it used to be. We used to have brochure holders on our trail kiosk, and the maps would just disappear, which we then had to refill all the time. We were spending between $6,000 to $7,000 in trail maps annually. This year, we've reduced that to $2,000.”
Why did Cincinnati Nature Chose Guide by Cell?
“We talked to other vendors, but we liked this mobile app idea that didn’t require WiFi and only needed cell service. Then, the blue dot technology was the deal maker. That was the number one reason we went with Guide by Cell. We love that we own and control the content. We have access to the software and we can change things. Guide by Cell has been a true partner with us. They’ve been so responsive with our needs. And in the long run, it's become very cost efficient so we know that we're using membership dollars wisely.”
“GPS Mapper makes wayfinding really easy for people and it allows us to highlight some points of interest. We don't have a lot of physical signage because we don't want to impede the natural beauty of the landscape. So, on our digital map we've identified historical landmarks, we also have restrooms and parking marked.”
Trail Updates in Real Time
“What's really handy is we can update the map and identify trail closures in real time. For example, we had a giant tree go down with a bunch of yellow jackets so we closed off the trail. It was super easy to put warning signs on the digital map so that people could see that section of the trail right off the bat.”
What’s Included in Cincinnati’s Mobile App?
“We have a list of our trails which includes mileage information and an elevation chart. We also offer interactive tours on the app such as mindful moments with recorded meditations. We have seasonal activities like a tribute to a Cincinnati artist or scavenger hunts.”
“The feedback has been tremendous. I can't even say that we've had any negative comments. We've been so thrilled.”
“In the first two months since we launched, we’ve had 4,000 unique users and 40,000 page views. This well exceeded our expectations. We were really excited that so many people were using it. The most visited pages are the maps and trail info. What's really nice is you can track the data on which pages people are using most often.”