Thursday 21 September 2017

First look: Inside Dublin's hi-tech new Tourist Information Office

A futuristic fáilte

Dublin's new Tourism Information Office Suffolk Street. The facility was officially opened today. Picture by Shane O'Neill / Fennell Photography
Dublin's new Tourism Information Office Suffolk Street. The facility was officially opened today. Picture by Shane O'Neill / Fennell Photography
Tourism Information Office Suffolk Street. The facility was officially opened today. Picture by Shane O'Neill / Fennell Photography 2015
Tourism Information Office Suffolk Street. The facility was officially opened today. Picture by Shane O'Neill / Fennell Photography 2015
Tourism Information Office Suffolk Street. The facility was officially opened today. Picture by Shane O'Neill / Fennell Photography 2015
Tourism Information Office Suffolk Street. The facility was officially opened today. Picture by Shane O'Neill / Fennell Photography 2015
Tourism Information Office Suffolk Street. The facility was officially opened today. Picture by Shane O'Neill / Fennell Photography 2015
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Visitors to Dublin have been promised a "futuristic fáilte" with the launch of a state-of-the-art Tourism Information Centre in Dublin.

Interactive pods, a social media wall, Apple Macs and touchscreen technology are all to hand for visitors to the new Tourism Information Office.

Located at 25 Suffolk Street, the Office was officially opened today by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe, and promises to combine the high-tech digital delivery of information with a warm Irish welcome in the slick new setting.

There are still human beings to hand, in other words.

Visiting today, I was impressed by the white, ordered and minimally-designed space - though it remains to be scene how the reduced space (the office has relocated from the larger St. Andrew's Church next door) will handle throngs of visitors in peak season.

Key elements include:

A Social Media Wall

This is a large digital display showing social media posts and tweets tagged with the #LoveDublin hashtag, broadcasting images of Dublin on an "almost live" basis.

Interactive Pods

These spaces are designed to help visitors access relevant information quickly and intuitively, using a simplified map displaying key locations and attractions throughout the city and county. "All Dublin has to offer is only two touches away," according to Fáilte Ireland.

Dublin Tourist Office 5.jpg
Tourism Information Office Suffolk Street. The facility was officially opened today. Picture by Shane O'Neill / Fennell Photography 2015

Visitors at Dublin's new Tourist Information Office today

Free Blank Maps

Identical to the maps displayed digitally on the pods, these allow the visitor to note attractions and activities that relevant to their own needs. They can mark their key areas of interest and routes to get there, creating their own personalised map of Dublin.

An Inspiration Wall

A large-scale video wall presenting specially commissioned hi-res photographs from around Dublin. Visitors encounter this almost immediately on entering the space. The images are shown with an animated map that shows the location in which they were taken.

Free Wi-Fi

Always a good thing.

An App Wall

Visitors can download key smartphone apps promoted here - including the Wild Atlantic Way app - giving them "the tools they need to sample and explore", according to Visit Dublin.

A ‘What’s On’ Area

This features several screens updated daily with events, concerts and special exhibitions taking place today and tomorrow. Some events can be booked in the Office.

Dublin Tourist Office 6.jpg
Tourism Information Office Suffolk Street. The facility was officially opened today. Picture by Shane O'Neill / Fennell Photography 2015

Traditional brochures will still be available

"With its focus on the needs of the modern traveller and the provision of the most up to date information, we believe we now have a tourism office in Dublin that sets a benchmark nationally and, indeed, globally,” said Orla Carroll, Fáilte Ireland’s Head of Dublin.

“This new facility is a winning blend of the traditional and the new," Minister Donohoe added.

Fáilte Ireland also announced an upgrade to its www.visitdublin.ie website.

The new Office and rebooted website come in a year when the Grow Dublin Tourism Alliance has been tasked with "rebranding" the city. The new brand is expected around autumn.

Although Dublin has been recovering from the recent financial crisis, and overseas visitors to Ireland increased by almost 9pc last year, the city has been underperforming against its potential - not to mention city break competitors such as Amsterdam, Berlin and Copenhagen.

Fewer visitors are utilising traditional tourist offices, due in part to the range of digital tools now available to help them explore cities, but it is estimated that as many as 5,000 people a day could pass through the new Tourist Information Office in peak months.

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