Using technology to make life easier for the visitor is nothing new to Seoul, where technological convenience is de rigeur for tourism, business-related or otherwise, and most importantly, a way of life for the locals. As one of the world's most connected cities, Seoul is a great example of destination innovation.
To begin with, Seoul visitors can plan their itinerary, finding suitable accommodation and discovering the city's top attractions on the official Seoul Convention Bureau website.
Potential tourists will also find a wealth of information, from Seoul's best walking tours to what's on and where, not to mention how to get there easily, on sister site VisitSeoul.net, where users can even find their way via an interactive street map feature. Recognizing the ever-increasing importance of social networking, both websites also give visitors the heads up on Seoul via their official Facebook and Twitter pages.
Upon arrival in the country, visitors can rent special smartphones installed with i Tour Seoul, a special app based upon the Seoul Tourism Organization's official website of the same name, also available in mobile form. Operating in several languages, the app is everything from an electronic travel guide on the city to a real-time information service.
The user will then be able to board KORAIL's new high-speed airport rail link that – able to bring them to the city center in just 43 minutes – armed with a constantly-updated information service that will help them wherever they go.
Cheap, high-speed broadband is the rule here rather than the exception. It's no surprise therefore to find not only ubiquitous wifi here, but also a steadily-evolving array of devices ready and more than able to take advantage of it.
By putting their smart phone's GPS function to good use, the visitor will be not only be constantly updated on nearby points of interest, accommodation, dining options, weather, currency rates: with the newly-released version 2.0, users can now simply point their camera at the surrounding area and i Tour Seoul's Augmented Reality feature will quickly fill in the details, overlaying icons Google Street View-style, explaining precisely what they are looking at, whether it be a Starbucks or the ancient edifice of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Changdeokgung Palace.
Another challenge for visitors is making sense of another country's public transport system. Seoul has devoted years of its IT expertise to solving this problem. Major bus stops are equipped with LED displays supplying the traveler with ETAs, the routes for which are mapped out quite literally on the plexiglas shelters. Appearing beside the route information, new Quick Response (QR) codes, designed to be scanned into the smart phone, display real-time bus information and a wealth of other key transport data in the language of their choice.
Similar multilingual clarity can be found on the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, where stations are equipped with touch-sensitive Google Earth-like maps, ensuring that even when the visitor finds themselves in a station with more exits than a freeway, they will know precisely which one to choose.
They can also take advantage of the simplicity of T-Money - rechargeable cards available from airports, subways and convenience stores that circumvent the need for loose change, and which can be used not only to pay transport fares, but also for goods in convenience stores and an increasing array of other retail venues.
The city's commitment to making getting around as simple as possible ensures that the only hard work the business tourist will need to conduct is that which they came here for in the first place. The vacationer to Seoul meanwhile, can avoid hard work altogether, thanks to intuitive design and a people-first ethic.
To learn more about Seoul's IT revolution and how you can experience it for yourself, please visit miceseoul.com for the meetings industry professional and visitseoul.net for the general tourist, also available in mobile form at m.visitseoul.net.
To download the free i Tour Seoul app, search for it via your iPhone or Android-capable smart phone's app store.
For more information, visit:
Seoul Convention Bureau Facebook page: facebook.com/miceseoul?v=app_4949752878
Twitter page: twitter.com/miceseoul.
©2011 Ben JordanCorbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a professional speaker and consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity.
He can be contacted at his extensive web site: www.corbinball.com and followed on Twitter: www.twitter.com/corbinball
©2011 Corbin Ball Associates