Europe in summer doesn’t get any better, especially when Melbourne had its coldest winter in 20 years. I was last in Europe 10 years ago so was looking forward to seeing the sights again. Also I was keen to see if Europe had embraced the 21st century (digital world). On the flight over we decided on our hashtag for the trip, check Instagram #booseuro2015 for our photos. For the next 5 weeks we relied on Airbnb, TripAdvisor and free Wi-Fi.
Compared to Australia, Europe is very old and a lot busier. With 8 million people and over 2,000 years of history, London is still the place to be. Regardless of the night, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square were pumping. Granted it’s the Theatre and party capital of Europe and it was in the middle of summer, but there was people around all hours of the day and night.
In London I was hoping to see some cutting edge digital activity, such as interactive advertising on bins and billboards at Oxford Circus, and/or Beacons in the department stores (the department stores were all about the customer experience). But the most exciting digital experience we got was free Wi-Fi and using phones in the Tube. We were lucky enough to go to an Arsenal game, but again there was no digital connection with fans. The ground did have Wi-Fi, but we couldn’t connect.
On our trip we passed through France, Italy, Croatia, Austria, Czech and Germany. After London, Berlin felt the most digitally connected. It must due to their strong arts and bar/ cafe scene, and a young population. We used social media a lot at the start of our trip to hunt out Melbourne styled cafes, which there were no shortage of in London, Paris and Berlin. A lot of businesses (the smart ones) were using Instagram, Facebook, TripAdvisor and blogs (my wife would find them!) to attract tourists.
The most digital it got on our trip was at Singapore Airport, which had a digital wall, where you uploaded photos to a 360 degree screen.
This trip got me thinking, what are we doing for our tourists? I don’t expect very much. I know we’re trying to rollout free Wi-Fi in the city. So, Daniel Andrews (Victoria’s Premier) if you’re reading this, let’s chat as I have plenty of ideas.