Columbus’s convention scene bursts with possibilities for groups — arts, entertainment, dining, shopping, sports, and outdoor activities. And now, Experience Columbus is making it easier for planners and their attendees to discover all there is to do in Ohio’s vibrant capital city, whether they’re on a meeting break or have more time to pre- or post-event to explore.
In late June, Experience Columbus began offering the latest in a series of new digital trip-planning tools — one specifically for event attendees visiting the city. Convention participants now can download the Attendee Savings Pass to their mobile device from the Experience Columbus website and present it at participating Columbus businesses to take advantage of exclusive deals and discounts.
Experience Columbus worked with Bandwango, a destination experience engine, to convert the previous “Show Your Badge” manual program into the new mobile version. The platform also features other discounts and self-guided experiences to explore the best of the city’s attractions, public art, coffee shops, and more, allowing visitors to book their tickets to attractions on the Experience Columbus website and gives them option to bundle passes to multiple attractions and save.
Another tool the destination recently added to its suite, with the help of the knowledge management platform SatisFi Labs, is Apple Business Chat. With this option, visitors using iOS devices can get their questions answered as quickly as it takes to send an iMessage. The text initially is answered by a chatbot but can be escalated to a live agent if requested. Visitors tap the blue word bubble under the Apple Messages heading on the website’s Engage page, or if they’re already out and about, certain locations have signs with a QR code that will initiate a text conversation.
These latest offerings aren’t the only ways the DMO is providing visitors convenient ways to experience Columbus. In late 2020, it launched a variety of other helpful digital tools.
“We’re in this digital world where everything is mobile now. Providing these solutions just makes it really easy for visitors,” said Michelle Ford, senior marketing manager at Experience Columbus who worked with various tech companies to add the tools to the destination’s digital kit. “We’re meeting them where they are instead of having them pick up pamphlets and brochures and visitor guides — stuff that usually ends up in the trash a couple of days later.”
Below is a look at more new tech.
The website was revamped in November and uses a mobile-first design that provides consumers an effortless way to engage with site content through quick view listings, TripAdvisor reviews, and OpenTable integration, among other features.
SatisFi Labs, which worked with Experience Columbus on its Apple Business Chat, also helped to develop a virtual chat assistant that the destination initially launched in late summer to provide COVID-19 updates. In December, it also served as a virtual assistant for gift givers, offering recommendations and purchase links to products listed in the Columbus Gift Guide.
Direct Hotel Booking
Developed with the tech company RootRez, this service allows visitors to book hotels directly on the Experience Columbus website at the best possible rates. This is a good option for meeting attendees who wish to extend their stay after their event. When visitors book a two-night stay, they get the choice of two general admission tickets to one of Columbus’s top attractions or a Lyft credit. Sometime later this year, the website will have a RootRez-Bandwango integration that will allow visitors to book hotels and experience passes together in a seamless transaction.
“Live Forward Live” Podcast
Produced in conjunction with iHeart Media and local radio hosts, “Live Forward Live” goes behind the scenes with the organizations, businesses, and people that make Columbus an exciting city. It is available on the website and at iHeart Media and Apple Podcasts.
Digital Visitor Guide
Great Lakes Publishing hosts the digital edition of the visitor guide produced by Experience Columbus. The guides feature listings, articles, maps, and details on attractions, dining, shopping, lodging, and events.