El Paso, TX
El Paso, Texas is one of a handful of American cities that has stayed true to itself and whose unique attributes are things in which locals take great pride. Located on the westernmost tip of Texas where three states and two countries meet, El Paso’s history dates back more than four centuries.
Today, El Paso is the sixth largest city in the state of Texas; 19th largest in the country; and has been named “Safest City in the United States,” by CQ Press for four consecutive years. With a metroplex of more than 2.5 million people, El Paso is the largest binational metropolitan area in the western hemisphere and is composed of a variety of nationalities, with cultural influences ranging from Native American to Spanish and Mexican.
Visit El Paso (an operating division of Destination El Paso) is responsible for destination marketing for the 680,000-resident city, which has been recognized four years in a row as the #1 city in the U.S. (with over 500,000 residents) with the lowest crime rate, as well as the #1 most affordable city in the country.
Tours & Directions
The city of El Paso welcomes millions of visitors every year. So when their visitor’s centers began seeing less and less foot traffic, they noticed.
“More and more people are refraining from entering visitor information centers,” said Leesy McCorgary, Tourism Marketing Manager for Visit El Paso. “The tools they need are available on their phone or tablet, so the information is right there.”
Despite the decrease in visits to their two information centers, as well as a lack of visitor response to print materials, Visit El Paso still needed a way to connect visitors with their staff, as well as enhance in-destination experiences like walking tours and brand loyalty to keep them coming back. With a long-term goal of increasing the number of hotel stays and attracting conventions and large groups as a host city, El Paso turned to Bluebridge for a mobile app solution that would help them meet visitors where they were for the ultimate El Paso experience.
El Paso pioneered a unique experience for their visitors with the creation of the world’s first FaceTime-integrated destination mobile app. Originally conceptualized by Destination El Paso’s CEO/General Manager, Bryan Crowe, the FaceTime feature allows app users to connect with a real person whenever they need help with finding information, navigating to their next attraction, or getting a recommendation from an expert.
As a new idea for the mobile app feature set, Bluebridge helped craft the strategy of the Facetime interaction, turning the idea into reality by partnering with Visit El Paso on innovation and product roadmap.
“Our previous app served its initial purpose as our visitor guide in smartphone format, but we really needed a way to keep visitors engaged with our brand,” said Bryan Crowe, CEO/ General Manager of Destination El Paso. “This dynamic new app created with Bluebridge is an excellent way to connect visitors to the resources we have, including personal face-to-face support via the unique FaceTime feature.”
Visit El Paso also relies on a number of other innovative mobile app features to keep visitors engaged, including:
- Virtual tours. The Visit El Paso app features tours with turnby-turn directions for walking, biking, or driving through key city landmarks. Featuring audio commentary, photos, and venue contact information, tours in the app give El Paso visitors a way to experience the city at their convenience.
- Event calendar. With postings featuring all the latest events and activities around the city, users can sync events to their device and get immediate directions through GPS. In addition, app users can create a custom itinerary by “favoriting” items throughout the app and viewing them in an aggregated tab.
- Explore. Only have a day? Only have an hour? Visitors can experience El Paso in different ways based on their available time and preferences with the in-app concierge feature.
- Integrations/feeds. With iCal feeds and streaming podcasts, Visit El Paso can automate content updates, making it easier to keep their messages fresh and engaging.
Among these world-class features, Visit El Paso also enjoys the ease of updating their app through the Mobile App Studio.
“It’s one of the most user-friendly management systems I’ve used,” said McCorgary. “The content is easy to update, and it has increased engagement with our material.”
APP LAUNCH & PROMOTION
With the arrival of 60,000 bowlers and visitors for the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships—the largest participatory sporting event in the world at 128 days long—Visit El Paso’s app launch couldn’t have come at a better time. With a dedicated user center on-site at the conference, attendees were able to download the app and get important destination information in-hand for navigation or leisure purpose.
Visit El Paso has advertised their app in print with table tents at restaurants, window clings in stores, and ads at the airport. The ads, featuring the slogan “You Better El Paso Up,” have garnered some downloads, but Visit El Paso places greater emphasis on digital.
“Destination marketing organizations are getting away from traditional print collateral,” said McCorgary. “People are planning trips, booking travel, and traveling with their smartphones. Our goal is to provide experiences and information to improve and enhance their visit immediately.”
After decreasing the amount of print ads they run, Visit El Paso now posts regular digital campaigns ads in target markets, directing people to their website and social media pages to get the word out about the app and keep the message in front of visitors. With so much digital promotion and emphasis on visitor experience, the app has also helped El Paso secure more spots as a host city for conferences and groups. By using the app to pitch, the Visit El Paso can promise better, more engaging experiences in the destination to potential visitors.
- $5,000 saved in international mailing costs of visitors guides
- $5,000 saved in brochure printing costs
- International recognition for best practices in tourism technology
- 5,200+ downloads
- 1,000 FaceTime calls per year
- 20% return rate to the app from previous users
- 35,000+ user sessions
- National attention and media coverage