A few days ago we (softly) launched St Helena’s very first Travel & Information App, inviting people to visit the Google Play store to access the free download as we began live testing.
The App is called, Inside St Helena, designed by Sharon and myself and represents months and months of work. If we do a second App at some point we will definitely be a lot quicker.
Hopefully, for followers of What The Saints Did Next, this also helps explain our neglect of the blog recently. This App project has pretty much consumed our attention since the start of 2019.
The Three-In-One Solution | by Darrin Henry
Inside St Helena is essentially a tourist guide, a business directory and a local notice board, all rolled into one and packaged in the most convenient of storage places. It installs on any smartphone; a modern day guide book which fits in your pocket and goes anywhere.
What’s On The App?
Inside St Helena basically provides a picture-based directory of things tourists and locals are likely to need:
- THINGS TO DO – Sightseeing Tours, Hiking, Swimming, Local Craft Workshops etc.
- GETTING AROUND – Taxis, Car Hire and Airport Transfers.
- RESTAURANTS & BARS – Restaurants, Cafés, Takeaways, Bars & Pubs.
- SHOPPING – Supermarkets, Hardware Stores, Souvenirs & Gifts, Clothes and Fuel.
- WHERE TO STAY – Hotels, Bed & Breakfast and Self-Catering.
- SERVICES – Communications, Banking, Marine, Wellness, Emergencies, etc.
- ADVERTS and EVENTS CALENDAR
- TOURIST & TRAVEL INFORMATION
How Does It Work?
We wanted to make the App useful, and at the same time, ‘Simple and Easy’ to operate.
Users simply tap the menu images to navigate to the different categories, before choosing the service or business they need.
This opens a dedicated Page that contains a range of details about what’s available, including: location on the island, costs (if appropriate), opening times, phone numbers, email address and if available, the business website or social media accounts.
If a Sure SIM card is installed, the phone link activates directly from the App, allowing instant and easy communications.
We’re a bit biased, but we really think we’ve achieved the original ‘Simple and Easy’ brief.
Google Play for Android & iOS
The App is available for both Android and iOS devices (smartphones and tablets) and can be downloaded directly from Google Play or the App Store, just like any other App.
Just search for ‘Inside St Helena.’
Burning The Midnight Oil
Learning to build the App has taken place between midnight and 6am each day.
On St Helena everyone is really careful with internet megabytes, trying not to go over our broadband package allowance which can be very expensive.
But from midnight to 6am, every day of the week, the internet access is free.
This means sleeping by day and coffee-fuelled night-shifts a lot of the time.
Meet Terry The Tortoise
The Inside St Helena logo is a smiling tortoise we’ve called, Terry.
We designed Terry ourselves, building from photos we’ve taken of the tortoises that live in the grounds at Plantation House.
Seeing the logo icon in Google Play has been a real thrill.
The 56 Insiders
The App could only work if it had good information Profiles. We needed to convince organisations and businesses to sign-up to an un-tested concept.
Our presentation pitch had to be effective. So we reverted to a trusted format we know well, and produced a 12 min video to explain the App’s benefits. Remember, this was a completely new format for St Helena, so required a real leap-of-faith from people.
But it helped that our audience already knew us and what we were about. From 1 May, we completed around 65 one-to-one presentations in three weeks. When we began live testing the App on 3 June 2019, it carried 56 individual Profiles, ranging from the island’s biggest companies to the smallest businesses.
Alongside the App we have also launched Inside St Helena, the website.
The website will support the App Profiles with the bonus of being able to display more images, and articles with higher word-counts.
Inspiration From Cape Town Tourism
The seed of inspiration for developing Inside St Helena was planted two years earlier, June 2017, during a blogging visit to Cape Town, one of our favourite cities.
For a few of the articles we produced that visit, we were kindly supported by Cape Town Tourism.
They delivered a welcome pack to our hotel that included a range of marketing information for the city’s attractions, which made it easy for us to find everything any tourist would need. We were impressed and immediately knew that type of marketing material could really benefit visitors to St Helena.
Missed Opportunities Creating Opportunities
For some time now, during conversations with visitors, (both conventional tourists and returning Saints) we’ve noticed a worrying trend.
Since the RMS St Helena no longer provides a 5-day introduction, visitors are struggling to find and connect with what the island has to offer. It seems that too many people on short-term holidays are leaving the island with money still in their pockets that they were probably prepared to spend when they arrived. Not good for the economy. Not good for visitors.
A group we took hiking, as recently as early 2019, who were on day six of a seven-day visit, asked us for eating-out recommendations that evening. We were shocked they had never heard of Rosie’s Restaurant before! Arguably the biggest local investment in hospitality on the island in the last two years, how could this go unnoticed?
This is just one of many similar experiences that have been shared with us, where visitors struggled to connect with the island’s services.
Good motivation for getting Inside St Helena completed.
Inside St Helena; Connecting People
It’s been a relief finally introducing Inside St Helena and now having people download it. The journey to get here feels like a long time.
There’s still a lot of work ahead now, promoting the App, fine-tuning the content and responding to feedback to optimise the functionality.
We are not recommending or endorsing the Profiles listed on Inside St Helena, rather, we are simply providing a platform that allows businesses, organisations, attractions and service providers to be more easily found.
But we do now have a tool that will connect people far easier on St Helena.
Strong work you guys! I think you have certainly come up with a product that will fill a big niche for visitors to St. Helena in the post-RMS era. Namely a younger, tech-savvy demographic which I am certain will be a big part of tourism going forward.
Thanks Rick & Sally,
Yeah, I don’t think we all appreciated what a valuable introduction the RMS gave everyone to St Helena. We definitely hope the App can play a part in filling that gap.
But not just for the younger lot 🙂 hopefully we’ll get a full range of ages and they’ll all find the App easy peasy to use!
Well done! It looks awesome guys!
Thanks Michelle, nice to hear from you. Make sure spread the word 🙂
What an ideal accomplishment! Well done, it’s brilliant!
Thanks Joanna, thanks for downloading and glad you like it 🙂
You guys are just incredible as always. With more people like you how could St Helena fail?! Keep it up, it is so good following all your developments, endeavours and entrepreneurship. May you stimulate many others!
Thanks for the lovely comment, Chris, just the tonic after all the sleepless nights 🙂
It’s always a nervy moment releasing a long-term project but so good when it works and there’s a positive response.
Great to hear from you. Cheers!
Congratulations, a true masterpiece!
I recently watched a documentary about Thailand and how overrun it now is by tourists, being on holiday in Thailand is now like a Saturday morning at the mall, at the end of the month! St. Helena would be a perfect alternative for those truly wanting to get away from the masses.
Keep up the good work!
Yes, sad when places become overrun, hopefully that never happens here but we could do with just a teensy bit more traffic at the mo 🙂
Thanks for the comment Ralf, and checking out the App.
Sounds amazing guys, well done!
Thanks Sasha, good to hear from you 🙂
Well done guys, this looks great. Awesome idea and very informative. I will be downloading the app before my holiday in October.
Don’t wait until October, download it now Leroy!!
Haha, thanks for the comment, look forward to seeing you in a few months then 🙂
Great achievement Darrin and Sharon I am sure that this will be well used by our visitors well done and good luck with “Inside St Helena”.
Thanks Lawson, hopefully the local people will be using it too 🙂