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Guiding People to Destinations ‘The Smart Way’

How Transport for West Midlands is working with You. Smart. Thing. to combine identity governance and a distributed information architecture to create regional partnerships that maximise the visitor experience…

Venue and event staff claim they spend up to 50% of their time managing travel queries, at an estimated cost of over £1.7Bn to UK GDP. The default solution of embedding or recommending Google Maps often gives insufficient or outdated advice, compounding the problem.

The destination and event management software market, worth an estimated £14Bn by 2022, has a projected compact annual growth rate of 11.39%. The UK represents 6.7% (£938m) with Cvent and Eventbrite dominating the corporate, tourism and SME sectors. Leisure venue and event ticketing is dominated by Live Nation’s Ticketmaster. Personalisation and VIP packages, including premium food and beverages, backstage access, preferred seats, and VIP restrooms, are cited as key market drivers. Travel demand management, however, primarily due to its subjectivity and complexity is a consistent challenge for venue and event owners, threatening profitability and repeat business.

Over the last 18 months, an Innovate UK backed intelligent mobility collaboration between You. Smart. Thing. and Transport for West Midlands has been addressing this gap by combining identity governance software with an innovative distributed Personal Travel Assistant interface.

By embedding the You. Smart. Thing. Travel Assistant into existing customer touchpoints, organisations can offer tailored up-to-date personalised travel assistance, manage demand and curate the visitor experience to their venues and events. Leveraging appetite for personalisation alongside supply-chain integration and engagement with venues and events in Central England (Godiva Festival, Symphony Hall, NEC Group), the team are positioning the Travel Assistant as a cost-effective alternative to Google Maps that is complementary to incumbent destination management websites and software systems.

Embedded Travel Assistant Deployment for Godiva Festival

Step 1 – Set event ‘access-points’ via the Travel Assistant CMS, based on-site layout and travel insight information

Step 2 – Publish responsive website link, for direct linking from booking confirmation emails and social media sites

Step 3 – Paste code snippet from the Travel Assistant CMS in primary online customer touchpoints (i.e. website, mobile app)

Step 4 – View/export actionable insights in accordance with service-users’ consent and service provider access permissions

The platform offers the capability to design bespoke routing to a range of destinations including offices or factories, health and education institutions, transport hubs, sports stadiums, theatres and festivals. Like Google Maps, the Travel Assistant is easy to add to a website, social media post or mobile app. Unlike Google, it offers destination and transport operators a valuable ‘travel forecast’ of people’s intended travel plans, enabling demand management alongside real-time messaging. Features include the ability to curate door-to-door journeys via the most appropriate route, transport modes and complimentary services, including booking assistance. The system maximises the experience and value offered to visitors based on their personal preferences and requirements, whilst licensors benefit from resource optimisation, reduced costs, higher conversion rates and more repeat visits.

Instead of generic “how to find us” information, the Travel Assistant maximises use of customer information to offer tailored routes and personalised journey choices.

The creation of personalised travel forecasts is achieved by matching a unique understanding of an individual service users’ specific journey requirement(s), captured at the destination touch-point (e.g. website, booking system or app), with real-time transit network information. The Travel Assistant dynamically integrates and delivers highly personalised multimodal journey guidance over existing the transit network and service provider infrastructure and systems, monitoring available services via established data sources. Abstracted mobility intelligence is shared with services providers and transport operators, who in turn leverage this data to understand services and asset utilisation.

The creation of a ‘single customer view’ across the supply-chain, exposing demand to rail, bus, car-share or bike hire operators extends the systems commercial opportunity. Collaboration is enabled through the ease of ‘embedding’ the Travel Assistant service. It is interoperable with 3rd party CRM applications, whilst allowing anonymous user data to be shared with public sector and transport operator systems for service planning and demand-responsive delivery.

Connecting Local Authority Services, Transport Operators, & National Agencies

From October 2019 the You. Smart. Thing. Travel Assistant is being marketed as a scalable Software-as-a-Service platform via a series of further pilot deployments in additional UK regions. This launch strategy builds on extensive research and development in Identity Governance and Administration (IGA), real-time audience analytics, integrated transport systems management, and successful Innovate UK proof-of-concept trials with transport and destination operators in the Midlands.

As part of its Innovate UK project, funded under the Infrastructure Systems programme, You. Smart. Thing. has conducted an initial assessment of export markets. Founder and CEO, Chris Thompson, explains. “Our product roadmap will capitalise on established local authority supply-chain partnerships in the UK and be expanded to maximise domestic coverage, creating a natural stepping-stone to global export markets.”


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