It’s taken three years to develop but this February will see the launch of Out & About, a brand new digital platform that aims to be a definitive one-stop shop for everything happening in Jersey.
Designed to help islanders and visitors plan what they want to do and when to do it, it also cleverly offers the hospitality and tourism industries invaluable marketing insight into visitor behaviour.
But more than a useful tool, it has been an all-consuming passion project for its founder, Bino Rodrigues, who, inspired by some tough personal experiences, quit a job in finance to turn his idea into a reality.
With developers Jamie McDonald and Steve Quinn on board as creative, technical and financial partners, Out & About is now just weeks away from a soft launch. The trio are thrilled to be finally releasing their creation in to the world – and there’s a chance it might be heading to Guernsey too.
‘My mum became ill when I was still working in finance and she went from being really independent to having to use a wheelchair. It changed how we approached going out because I’d have to find out in advance where offered wheelchair access,’ said 32-year-old Bino.
‘What I soon realised was that there was not one place, website or app or anything, where I could find out the information we needed. The information might be out there, but you have to go to specific websites or go to the right Facebook page to find it – and the same is true of events, or offers in Jersey. If you’re not following certain social media pages, you miss out on what’s happening.’
‘Creating something that will make an impact’
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Posted by outandabout.je on Monday, 2 September 2019
Identifying a huge opportunity, and wanting to spend more time with his mum, Bino quit his job to create ‘something that will make an impact.’ He convinced two friends, Jamie and Steve, to join the project as partners.
The developers have been the technical driving force, helping to evolve Bino’s ideas and develop the app’s design. They even teamed up, as a result of working together on the project, to launch digital development company Doodle Labs.
‘My pitch was that I wanted to create a new app for the island to encourage more people to get out and enjoy what’s available on the island. I wanted it to include restaurant, hotel and other business listings, and be a place where people can find out what’s on and read useful content written by local experts,’ said Bino, who also worked closely with Ed Prow from Guernsey-based agency The Potting Shed on the platform’s branding.
‘After what happened to my mum, I was stuck in a rut and I needed to get out and about; that’s where the name came from. It seemed like the right fit.’
How does it work for islanders and visitors?
The platform is a PWA (progressive web application) and, according to Steve, it ‘essentially enables websites or web applications to function in the same way as a mobile app. It’s a relatively new technology that enables web apps to run in app mode when saved to the user’s home screen, just like a native app.’
In layman’s terms, Out & About is website that looks, feels and functions in a similar way to a regular app. To browse its business and event listings, and articles, is free. Venue information includes a host of useful information like whether there are baby changing facilities, wheelchair access, vegan or veggie-friendly options, and wi-fi.
But Out & About is more than a listings hub – it brings together hundreds of exclusive discounts, daily offers and flash sales, which can be redeemed at venues using QR codes. Plus, the site’s own digital wallet will track how much money a user has saved by using its bespoke offers.
Access to discounts will be free for three months before a small monthly (or weekly, for visitors) subscription fee is required, and a percentage of profits will be given to local charitable projects.
‘Making this a social enterprise has been a real driving force behind the whole thing. When we’re in surplus profit, we want to put something back into the island and contribute to projects for disadvantaged adults and children. Rather than a cash donation, we’ll say to organisations, “What do you need?” And our community of subscribers will have helped pay for it.’
How does Out & About benefit businesses?
Businesses can register as partners for free and have full control of the offers they list. Best of all, the platform can provide them with insight into user behaviour, which can highlight trends and enable partners to tailor-make offers targeted at specific demographics.
‘If Bino flew to Jersey from London in January, signed up to the platform, redeemed offers A, B & C, requested directions to this or that restaurant, and then stayed on the mailing list, partners would be able to see how he spent his time here and email him incentives to return: “Visit Jersey again in September to enjoy this exclusive rate at X,Y and Z,”” said Bino.
‘The platform will offer an enormous amount of marketing data.’
We ‘can help visitors fall in love with the island’
The platform is currently in early testing ahead of its soft launch. It’s a nerve-wracking but hugely exciting time for the team, who have self-funded the project.
‘It’s taken a long time to get to this stage, and we’ve put so much hard work in to it, but to finally see the project launched and see people using it will make it all worth it,’ said Steve.
The idea has been embraced by the hospitality and tourism industries, and it’s attracted the support of Digital Jersey, Visit Jersey, Jersey Hospitality Association, LibertyBus and a number of charities on the island, including Caring Cooks.
Bino has also pitched the idea to VisitGuernsey and bringing Out & About to Jersey’s sister isle could be a real possibility in the future.
‘I love Jersey; it’s my home. I think we’ve created something that will help residents rediscover the island, and get out and enjoy it more. It’s also something that can help visitors also fall in love with the island. If we can help people have a wonderful time here, then we’ve done our job.’
For further information visit www.outandabout.je or email email@example.com.