This is a guest post by Chris Fancher, educator and speaker. He’s also my husband, and I thought his recent experience at a destination was worth sharing, so I
pestered asked him to give me a writeup.
Sometimes you just need a little help from a local.
Earlier this month I attended EduCon 2012 held at the Science Leadership Academy (SLA) in Philadelphia. The last time I was in the city for any length of time was in the early 90’s, and I have never been there for more than 4 or 5 hours. I knew that when I arrived at the airport, I would need to figure out how to get to my hotel and then to the conference venue.
My first thought was that the hotel would have information about getting around town and, at a minimum, would have straightforward directions on their website for traveling from the airport to the hotel. But, I was sadly mistaken – I couldn’t find anything labeled “how to get here” or “directions.”
Another option and a great resource is the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation; Caroline from the GPTMC tweets at @VisitPhilly. I did the “Hi, I’m looking forward to coming to your town” tweet and she quickly said Hi back, and said I should ask for anything I needed and she’d be available to help.
The last option I looked at was the EduConcierge from the EduCon web page. Since the conference is being held at a high school, they use students for their concierge staff….and they are amazing.
They had already created directions to the subway from each of the four main conference hotels. They had directions posted for driving into the city, getting in from the airport and even arriving via the Amtrak station.
The student running the @EduConcierge account tweeted that they had upgraded their EduConcierge Central website and those following the account should look it over. I did, loved what I saw and I thanked them in a tweet. They immediately said, “No problem!” and told me they were there for us any time, so I asked about the walk from my hotel to the Science Leadership Academy. They said it was a short walk of 6 blocks and that they walk it all the time. They also suggested that if it is cold or there is bad weather, I could take the Trolley.
The next thing I knew, they had sent a Twitpic of the Trolley line map from the station with arrow annotations explaining that I could walk above ground to the station, or I could go below the street through another route to get to the station.
That simple Twitpic, as they say, was worth a thousand words.
I now had an idea of not only the direction to the conference from my hotel, but I also knew how to get to the Trolley station above or below ground.
Why can’t hotels and CVBs also provide this simple assistance to their guests?
It took only a few minutes to take the picture and annotate it with arrows, but it saved me hours of frustration from trying to figure these things out on my own.
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Thanks for the shout out! We always try to help visitors when they direct visitor questions at us, but positioning ourselves as a “digital concierge” is something we are still working out. We want to do that the best we can. For us, we point direct visitor questions (such as directions) to our partners at the Independence Visitor Center, @PHLVisitorCntr.