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Stepping Into the Green Future of Travel
Preserve WWWalks is revolutionizing the green tourism industry, offering sustainable solutions and alternatives to traditionally wasteful travel practices. Founded by British/Danish author and tour guide Heather Gartside, WWWalks creates sustainable tours around the city of Copenhagen and nearby rural eco-friendly destinations in Denmark.
As the CEO of WWWalks, Gartside has her eyes set on the summer of 2022, which she predicts is when people will be more open to the idea of sustainable travel. Her second geolocative experience on her WWWalks app is called the -CO2penhagen tour. This tour, created in conjunction with STQRY is a digital experience which captures all the magic of her popular tours, but with an eco-friendly twist!
Pivoting to an online format has allowed Gartside to continually stay one step ahead of the rest of the travel industry, focusing both on sustainability and accessibility as she builds and expands her business. With Copenhagen slotted to be the first carbon-neutral capital city by the year 2025, WWWalks will be an integral part of that movement.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Gartside was faced with a two-fold challenge. She needed a new way to keep her tourism business going when the industry essentially came to a full stop, along with a plan for future reopenings as travel opens up again in the coming years. A digital app allowed her to do both while keeping her sustainable mission centered in the project.
“For many years, there was no sign of any disruption to the immense influx of visitors to the capital or to Denmark. In March 2020, my small tourism business ceased to exist overnight due to the collapse of the travel industry,” said Gartside. “Creating an app had been on my bucket list for a few years. Lockdown provided the ideal opportunity to rise from the ashes and commit to a large creative project with an eye on both my own business, and that of making geolocative tours of the city.”
The initial phase of her app focused on creating safe content in accordance with the new social distancing requirements of the time.
“The first goal was to create a socially-distanced fun experience for the user while using humor, originality and charm to convey information to the new wave of independent travelers,” Gartside explained.
But her touring app took on new meaning as she began to research the future of the travel industry as well. A recent report from Booking.com showed that sustainable travel is going to become a top priority for travelers moving forward post-pandemic.
The report states that 83% of global travelers think that sustainable travel is vital. Furthermore, 61% say the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future, and 49% still believe that there aren’t enough sustainable travel options available in 2021.
These findings position Gartside’s app and service at a unique advantage when thinking about the future of her business and the travel industry at large.
“I found myself becoming increasingly alarmed at the presence of so many tourist buses choking the quaint cobbled streets of the city. Hundreds of cruise ships on the horizon with sometimes 5,000 passengers per ship disembarking, and airlines jetting people from every corner of the world, sometimes for just a day or two,” Gartside explained. “All this with an infrastructure which simply couldn’t cope with the volume.”
An app to provide digital experiences for her clients, as well as educational opportunities about sustainable travel, allowed Gartside to address her concerns personally, professionally, and globally.
Creating an app had been on my bucket list for a few years. Lockdown provided the ideal opportunity to rise from the ashes and commit to a large creative project with an eye on both my own business, and that of making geolocative tours of the city.— Heather Gartside, CEO of WWWalks
As The launch of her flagship walking tour app called -CO2penhagen features rich audio, video, photography, and other multimedia content to tell the story of the city. “We find that not only the tales of the history and culture of Denmark are told in detail, but it now also gives a strongly environmental message all without preaching or telling the user off. We’ve all been through a lot lately, after all,” said Gartside.
What sets her app apart from similar competitors is the user-friendly features of the STQRY app, along with the seamless translation of Gartside’s unique charm to the digital format with her lively commentary.
“The mission has been to inject the same originality, storytelling and entertainment value as you find with real life tours. The emphasis has been to take the path less travelled and open up new sustainable routes,” according to the WWWalks website.
Another major advantage was that the app allowed her tours to be entirely socially-distanced, allowing visitors to take her tours at their own pace and in their own socially distanced circles while still getting a full sense of the city.
Even though Gartside has been a lifelong traveler, living in nine different countries, she did not consider herself a digital native/nomad and had no prior app development experience. But with the ease of the STQRY platform, she was able to create her digital tour guide app and make plans to expand it in the future.
“The realizing of this dream of creating an app focused on sustainable, socially-distanced and off-the-beaten-track tourism now has taken momentum, and I’m adding new tours to less well known places in and around Copenhagen for carbon-neutral travel,” she explained.
After expanding her tours to different places around Denmark, she plans to expand into different European countries by 2023, and even further out in 2025 when the tourism industry is projected to be in full swing again.
Her STQRY app has allowed the WWWalks, -CO2penhagen tour to become accessible to Gartside’s fans from all over the world, even if they aren’t on-site. Expanding her reach in this way has allowed her to recover and unexpectedly grow her business during the pandemic despite industry-wide struggles.
Thanks to the STQRY customer success team, Gartside was able to facilitate this pivot with ease. She told us that, despite the global time differences, there was always a solution waiting for her in her email. “Over the past year their client customer experience has developed into a delightful balance of competence, proactive ping-pong, and fondness.” she said.
The digitization of global tourism is becoming integral to the industry’s survival as we move into a post-pandemic age where the focus will be on safety and sustainability. STQRY’s solutions allow any business to take part in that movement.
“The tourism sector in the future must wake up,” said Gartside, “and when that happens, WWWalks already has a head start thanks to all the care, good practice and attention that has been developed within the app.”
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