What does the future of tourist information (TI) look like? At our last MAQNIcademy on November 21, 2023, we took an in-depth look at this topic and used practical examples to provide inspiration for a new self-image. We have been dealing with this topic for years in numerous lectures, workshops and studies. Nevertheless, we are still asking ourselves this question: How can we offer added value to people who have already obtained comprehensive information about their vacation destination in advance using digital media and inspire them with our tourist information? The cities of Mainz and Karlsruhe have also asked themselves this question. The result is the "mainz STORE" and the "Schaufenster Karlsruhe", two innovative concepts that are completely different. What they both have in common: They rethink tourist information and serve as best practices.
Our speakers Philipp Meier (Head of Marketing & Tourism, mainzplus CITYMARKETING GmbH) and Pascal Rastetter (Managing Director, KTG Karlsruhe Tourismus GmbH) gave us exciting and comprehensive insights into the redesign process of their TIs. In this blog post, we would like to summarize the most important findings for you. Let us inspire you and enjoy reading!
The "mainz STORE" is an experience and information center for guests and locals to bring the Mainz brand to life. Values such as sociability, openness and friendliness, which characterize the Mainz way of life, form the cornerstone of the tourist information and are communicated here.
In addition to the classic tourist information, the "mainz STORE" includes a wine shop with wines from Mainz, the Rheinhessen region and the whole of Rheinland-Pfalz as well as a store with souvenirs and Mainz specialties. A special feature is the "mainzgefühl-Experience", an interactive exhibition space for playfully discovering the typical Mainz way of life.
The "Schaufenster Karlsruhe" was designed as an experience and meeting place with a high quality of stay and focuses on creating a digital customer journey for guests and locals. A guidance system leads visitors through the interactive tour, where each visitor can individually choose their interests and data for their own micro-page. The personal selection is saved on a card using QR code technology. By scanning the code with their cell phone, visitors can access their own Karlsruhe homepage and easily take their information with them. Personal advice continues to play a central role and is supplemented by the digital offer.
Both tourist information centers address both guests and locals. Before the reorganization, for example, Mainz focused on 80% guests and 20% locals. Currently, the ratio is 50:50. Through the temporary exhibitions, regional gifts and ticket sales, there is always something new for the people of Mainz. In the TI in Karlsruhe is also connected to the city's public services, which also makes the TI a point of contact for locals. Tickets are also on sale here. When creating the individual Karlsruhe Micropage, a distinction is made between guests, locals, those interested in culture, families and business travelers. A selection of offers is then presented - depending on requirements.
Sustainability and regional products and producers play a decisive role in Mainz and Karlsruhe. Both have therefore commissioned companies from the region for the architectural design of the TI. In addition, both present partners and products from the surrounding area. Space will be made available that can be rented. This offers an authentic and credible experience for guests.
In Mainz, accessibility was a critical factor in the restructuring and the basis for receiving funding. As the city of Mainz wants to position itself as an inclusive city, it was also important for the TI to follow this path and implement the necessary measures. The City of Mainz's inclusion officer was therefore also involved in the planning process. The TI was also awarded the "Travel for All" certificate.
In Karlsruhe, accessibility is still in its beginnings. However, the topic is being increasingly intensified and the "Travel for All" certificate is also being aimed for. The "Schaufenster Karlsruhe" is still accessible for wheelchair users as it is at ground level and there is also a disabled toilet.
Feedback and visitor interaction
Both cities actively collect feedback from visitors. In Mainz, this is done through a guest book with a creative design, Google reviews and by e-mail. In Karlsruhe there is a smiley system, similar to the one at the airport, which is supplemented with additional questions.
Funding was granted in both Mainz and Karlsruhe. Funding for the "Schaufenster Karlsruhe" came in part from the tourism infrastructure program of the state of Baden-Württemberg. In Mainz, the project relied on funding from the Rheinland-Pfalz Ministry of Economic Affairs for tourism infrastructure and from the Corona Special Fund. This allowed 2/3 of the costs to be covered.
The webinar gave us many insights into the restructuring and implementation process of the tourist information centers in Mainz and Karlsruhe and an indication of where the journey can take us in the future. One thing is clear: the TI is not an obsolete model, it must adapt to the changing needs of the target groups. And this includes the local population. Guests who are satisfied with information from the Internet will not come to the TI. The key factor is and remains individual advice, i.e. the authentic insider tip. It is particularly important to be clear about what is special about the region, the city and the location. The TI of the future is digital, barrier-free, sustainable and creates an experience and information center that information center that conveys the identity and values of a destination. Funding is also possible with a small budget. Be bold and rely on your strengths, on what makes you special!
We will be happy to send you the recording of this MAQNIcademy on request.