THURSDAY 25 APR 2019 10:16 AM


To attract Millennials in an increasing competitive global tourism industry, in 2015 the English government announced a £40 m Discover England fund, dedicated to providing the best possible experience for inbound tourists. A product of this new fund is England Originals, an immersive new augmented reality app resulting from a collaboration between London-based marketing agency Hex Digital and England’s Historic Cities (EHC), a consortium of 16 historic destinations across England.

In developing the app, Hex realised it could easily become a fad if it was not immersive enough. Benjamin Moore, managing partner at Hex Digital, says “We knew we needed to make sure this was an app that tourists would come back to again and again, and drew on the knowledge of our cross-functional partner network to gather the insights we needed to make this a success.”

The first stage in the app’s development was understanding the target market: tech-savvy Millennials. To do so, Hex hosted committed focus groups in all 16 of the English cities to be covered in the app. Through these focus groups, Hex discovered the human stories behind historic locations are what tourists find most interesting. With this knowledge, Hex then partnered with historian Jonathan Foyle to uncover the stories which make some of England’s most famous landmarks even more intriguing.

From there, the app was launched, allowing curious tourists to experience the mysteries and hidden gems of England from the comfort of a sofa. A user can engage in a table-top tour, where a city will pop up and a simple tap of a building will reveal the building’s engaging story, narrated by Foyle. Additionally, each of the 16 locations featured will have six portals, through which the user can be teleported to a variety of immersive viewing locations, including the stage of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the roof of Salisbury Cathedral.

Among the app’s other features are details about each of the tours offered at historic locations, key sites to visit in each city and fun introductory videos. Furthermore, a user can find the best places to stay, eat and visit in each city according to the England Originals website, and provides the ability to book traveling, lodging, and attraction accommodations.