By Gav Ross
GONE are the days when travellers new to an area are forced to rummage through a mess of glossy tourism pamphlets and maps to figure out what to see and do first.
Smartphones and super-thin tablet devices are slowly rendering humble tourism information outlets obsolete, with constantly-updated software applications (‘apps’) enriching the experience of surveying new locations.
Local film maker and media consultant Mick Green, who brought his production company Drift Media to Bass Coast 12 months ago, believes businesses and community organisations around Inverloch in particular could benefit greatly from embracing such technology, and he has begun the process of introducing his e-tourism project ‘Visit Inverloch’ to the masses.
Formulated around six months ago, Mick hopes Visit Inverloch eventually evolves into a fully-fledged app.
Using the ultra-popular ‘Destination Warrnambool’ app as “a benchmark example” of what is achievable, Mick envisions the wandering tourist being able to pull out their phone or tablet and, with the wonders of GPS integration, easily navigate their way around town.
It’s something that, up until five or so years ago, wasn’t even an option.
“Nearly all of us have smartphones and internet-enabled devices on us all the time nowadays,” Mick explains.
“So if I’m visiting a place like Inverloch, I can look up where to stay, where to eat and things to do.
“That’s something I previously would have had to do in advance; I could have gone to a tourism information centre and picked up brochures.
“Now, I don’t have to.”
While such an app would point out obvious attractions and trendy cafes, Mick imagines a Visit Inverloch app being something far more community-focused.
“You might look at your phone and discover upcoming events in town,” he continues.
“Straight away, you might see there’s a Farmers’ Market on Sunday.
“So you’re getting information on that, but on top of that you’re also being introduced to aspirational things around town, such as bowling, golf, angling and sailing clubs.
“That’s all part of what you can see and do, and you’re constantly guided by GPS.”
Whilst simple navigation through a coastal town through an integrated app is exciting enough, Mick imagines the project evolving into something much more.
“People don’t only just want to get information, they want to provide information themselves,” he goes on.
“They become the source of information themselves.
“You might be down here in Inverloch, it’s a beautiful day, you look at the inlet, take a photo and share it (via social media).
“This way, people feel they are part of the collective.”
Crowd-sourcing of information is, essentially, what gives a new media project such as Visit Inverloch life.
“And it’s a hungry beast,” Mick continues.
“Once you start generating that content, it means you have to keep feeding it new content.”
Going deeper down the tech rabbit hole, Mick says experimentation with augmented reality is also on the cards for Visit Inverloch.
Using sophisticated 3D navigation technology, augmented reality allows you to hold your phone or tablet aloft, the screen taking in the scenery as if the device was about to take a photo.
Information bubbles magically appear, detailing street names, shops and services, all in real-time.
It can also be a nifty tool for history buffs, as evidenced by the National Trust of Victoria’s Lost 100 app, which showcases Melbourne’s heritage buildings in utterly immersive fashion, displaying a ‘now-and-then’ comparison.
“It is really interesting to look at things via history,” Mick says.
“You could be down the pier in Inverloch and compare a photo of what it looked like 70 years ago.
“You could do a history walk around town using GPS, which could stretch to other areas in Bass Coast.
“There are lots of ways to make things interesting.”
While an integrated app looks to be the most likely future for Visit Inverloch, Mick says it isn’t set in stone.
“We’re just playing in that space at the moment,” he says.
“I like to think of it as digital Lego blocks – the end product is not as important as the process.
“I can make it into an app or a website or a more traditional media form.”
For now, Visit Inverloch exists as something simple – a Facebook page.
“It’s a page people can just come along and visit,” Mick confirms.
“At the moment we’re just loading it up with image content, people can come along and add their own content, marking themselves in that space.”
Check it out by searching for ‘Visit_Inverloch’ in Facebook’s search bar.
To learn more about Mick’s other projects, visit www.driftmedia.com.au/