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
For now, the App is only available for Android devices (smartphones and tablets) and can be downloaded directly from the Google Play Store, just like any other App.
We are currently working on getting an iOS version into the Apple App Store and hope this will be completed by mid-June.
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.