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Putting Bim on the map

Monique Welch showing how to find Pebbles Beach on the app.

by Latoya Burnham

A young woman set on being an entrepreneur is moving to get a mobile app on the local market.

With a veiw to targeting visitors and locals trying to find their way around the island, Monique Welch and an international company, iLand Guide, have launched an app using a map of Barbados which they are hoping will help with local navigation.

Welch, who started out on the road to entrepreneurship with her own skin care line, said although she holds a masters degree in Natural Resource Management, she had been interested in marketing ever since she got the opportunity to do a course in it.

Her exploration of online opportunities led her to the CEO of iLand Guide, who then asked her to develop a plan for the launch and marketing for iLand Guide Barbados.

“He was so impressed with the plan that he actually uses it as a model for all the other islands in this region to follow. So as a result, I not only handle Barbados’ marketing, but advise the worldwide company on marketing in other islands in the Caribbean,” said the 27-year-old woman.

The app, she explained, was like having all the brochures on Barbados combined and dropped onto a map of the island. So it is an opportunity for all the places of interest, eateries, shops and other locals to provide visitors especially, with ways of finding them, through the download of the app to mobile smart phones.

Welch noted that once the app was downloaded, users did not have to be connected to the Internet or be online to be able to use it. Users can simply plug in the information of where they are trying to find or go and the map finds the location using GPS mapping of where the person is in relation to where they are trying to go.

Persons can download the app on or through the apple or Google place store.

“We are getting ready to launch our winter campaign. It was designed for tourists, but locals can also use it. So we want to start the marketing in November so when the arrivals peak, we will be ready,” she said, adding that they already had plans to advertise in the air and sea ports, along with campaigns to Oistins and other popular spots.

“You are looking at a market where 80 per cent of tourists actually use android or iPhones and traditional flyers are becoming impractical, you need something with a built-in app like we have, so they can navigate to your location and even call you from the app if possible,” she said.

The ambitious young woman said while they were looking to hit the market hard with advertising and to get more companies on board, she and her five associates already had plans that would see the initiative being around for years to come.

“It hasn’t really been too hard because I have been on my own working for five years. I decided that I wanted to be in control of my own funds and I realised I liked marketing, so this allows me to take on different challenges…

“The next five years will be very exciting. This app is actually three years in the making … and the beauty of it is that every time I meet a client they are able to give me an idea that I am able to take to the worldwide team and say, ‘Hey they are looking at doing this, can we make it happen?’ So I am actively helping the app to evolve so I believe the app will still be around and I hope we will be at our target which is 432,000 downloads per year, which represents the market that comes to Barbados with smart phones.” Welch said they expect that upgrades and updates will keep the information provided fresh, so there will be something for those who return each year or are frequent visitors.

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