Skip to content

Exploring Karlovy Vary with a city card and SmartGuide tour guide system

Through innovative applications like digital audio guides, even tourist destinations such as UNESCO heritage towns can unlock their stories to tourists from all over the world. One such example that saw a digital transformation is Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) of the Czech Republic. The renowned spa city derives its name from its founder, Charles IV, and translates to "Charles' Baths." Notably, Karlovy Vary is celebrated for its therapeutic hot springs with healing properties. This case study deep-dives into SmartGuide's implementation in Karlovy Vary, where the Destination Management Organization (DMO) has employed a tour guide system with creative content design and integrated its City card to also reveal lesser-known attractions and points of interest.

Exploring Karlovy Vary with a city card and SmartGuide tour guide system 01

Let’s discover how this multilingual solution of digital guides in English, Ukrainian, German, Czech, and Russian not only boosts local business revenue but also ensures a more evenly distributed influx of visitors, elevating the overall tourist experience.

Karlovy Vary harnessing digital innovation for sustainable tourism with SmartGuide

Karlovy Vary is a world-famous spa city in West Bohemia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the “Great Spa Towns of Europe” that captivates visitors with its 12 drinkable medicinal springs (15 overall) and stunning architecture. It is Europe's largest spa complex, founded by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and the King of Bohemia, around 1349.  As its popularity is immense, there is an increasing need to distribute tourists evenly across the town’s area and surroundings. To address this challenge, the destination management organization (DMO) in Karlovy Vary has implemented two innovative solutions:  the Karlovy Vary City Card program, and the SmartGuide app as the town’s official digital audio guide. The city processed its most popular attractions as well as hidden gems into 4 engaging main tours (called Leisure, Spring, History, Nature) as well as several additional thematic walking tours. 

The Karlovy Vary City Card offers discounts on popular tourism services, allowing tourists to explore over 50 locations (also beyond the main Colonnade street) for free or at reduced prices. Whether the attraction is free or requires payment depends on the specific terms and conditions associated with each participating location or activity. It is recommended that visitors review the list of included attractions and their respective benefits when purchasing the City Card. 

In tandem, the SmartGuide app features audio notifications and provides a tour guide system that adds excitement to exploration as it automatically plays immersive audio tours when visitors physically approach a point of interest, based on precise geolocation. One of the specially crafted tours in SmartGuide - the Leisure tour - leads visitors around the very places where they can use the City Card discounts and benefits. These places are also visibly marked with the City Card icon in the app. Effectively, SmartGuide helps visitors to get their money’s worth out of the Karlovy Vary City Card, as SmartGuide automatically triggers a notification as they approach places where a City Card perk or discount can be claimed. This has helped encourage tourists to extend their stay, explore the hidden off-the-beaten-track places in Karlovy Vary, and maximize the benefits of the City Card.

 Exploring Karlovy Vary with a city card and SmartGuide tour guide system 02 Karlovy Vary City Card

Image source for KV City Card:

Not only this strategic approach generates revenue for local businesses but also creates a more enjoyable experience for both residents and visitors. Furthermore, Karlovy Vary's efforts have not gone unnoticed – the city won the Czech Rise Up competition in 2020, organized by the Czech Ministry of Industry to promote Czech tourist destinations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karlovy Vary's innovative promotion and data-driven destination marketing serve as an inspiration for other destinations and travel businesses seeking to balance tourism growth with sustainability and unforgettable experiences.

Navigating success: How SmartGuide conquered Karlovy Vary's complex landscape and elevated tourism experience

Before the implementation of the SmartGuide tour guide solution, Karlovy Vary was facing a unique set of tourism challenges. However, through user-friendly and AI-powered features, SmartGuide transformed these challenges into opportunities:

1. Visitors were facing difficulty accessing comprehensive information about the various attractions in Karlovy Vary.

Karlovy Vary is known for its famous sights, however, many hidden gems were not receiving the attention they deserve.

Solution: Karlovy Vary's Tourist Information Centres utilize SmartGuide's CMS for comprehensive information provision. Pavlína Kyselová, an early adopter of the SmartGuide platform, started with four tours and expanded to nearly 30 using the user-friendly CMS. SmartGuide also aids in the development of the VARY Metro concept, representing points of interest through an imaginary "metro network." These tours cater to diverse audiences, showcasing renowned attractions and hidden gems, and offer multilingual content.

2. There was no seamless way to integrate the City Card and its benefits into a digital platform that could guide tourists around the town.

Without a comprehensive guide directing visitors to various City Card-supported locations, tourists concentrated on popular attractions only and lacked notifications when at particular places of interest. This resulted in an uneven distribution of visitors throughout the area.

Solution: SmartGuide's custom solution for Karlovy Vary has been addressing 90% of the town's needs and incorporated the City Card functionality upon request. The "LEISURE" tour showcases City Card benefit locations, with audio notifications and clear labeling in the app. This creative approach encourages City Card usage, boosting local businesses' revenue and promoting a more even distribution of visitors throughout the area.

3. The main challenge in Karlovy Vary's tourism ecosystem is creating a data-driven destination management system to enhance the tourist experience and engage local businesses.

The main obstacle in the local tourism ecosystem in Karlovy Vary is to create a data-driven destination management system that would improve the overall tourist experience and encourage local businesses to actively participate.

Solution: Karlovy Vary representatives value SmartGuide's data for destination management and run campaigns to integrate local businesses into the tourism ecosystem. They encourage visitors to use the app by distributing city maps with SmartGuide QR codes, SmartGuide stickers, and creating bucket list flyers with app instructions, even organizing workshops for staff at attractions or hotels.

4. Karlovy Vary faced hurdles in effectively catering to the various needs and interests of its diverse visitor demographics.

The challenge also involved continuously updating and enriching the tour guide system to maintain interest and provide a smooth, informative experience for all visitors, regardless of their purpose for visiting Karlovy Vary.

Solution: Karlovy Vary continuously enriches its digital tour guide to attract diverse audiences with SmartGuide. For example, to cater to UNESCO World Heritage site visitors, the town launched a special UNESCO tour. Additionally, walking tours in Carlsbad's nature are created to engage spa visitors and locals. Moreover, during the refugee crisis in March 2022, a special SmartGuide tour was prepared in Ukrainian to navigate essential city services. These efforts showcase Karlovy Vary's commitment to providing relevant and informative content on SmartGuide for all visitors.

Thus, the tour guide app's user-friendly features and personalized experiences have contributed to higher satisfaction levels among tourists, encouraging repeat visits and positive word-of-mouth recommendations. As more visitors discover the unexplored destinations of Karlovy Vary through SmartGuide, also the country's tourism sector continues to grow, benefiting not only the economy but also local communities and cultural preservation efforts.

CONTACT US CTA banners for SMG blog

SmartGuide boosting destination management and tourism sector digitization in Karlovy Vary 

In recent years, the picturesque spa town of Karlovy Vary has witnessed significant digitization in its tourism industry, thanks to the successful implementation of SmartGuide. The app is enhancing the visitor experience by fostering a deeper connection with the city's unique character and history with the help of its unique features.

To start with, SmartGuide simplifies navigation through its GPS-based mapping system, making it easier for tourists to discover city attractions and plan their routes efficiently. In addition, the tourist information center provides visitors with a QR code in a free printed map, guiding them through 4 main tours in town using SmartGuide's GPS-triggered audio content. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

With the posters and QR code stickers on the door, tourists can embark on self-guided tours even when the tourist information centers are closed. All these activities and interactions generate an immense volume of big data about a precisely geolocated visitor's behavior. Thanks to this information, Karlovy Vary can watch the performance of their content as well as specific marketing campaigns (including the offline channels), and adjust their decision-making based on hard data.  

Exploring Karlovy Vary with a city card and SmartGuide tour guide system 04

Bringing a modern digital tour experience to visitors in Karlovy Vary 

SmartGuide's tour guide system enriches the visitor experience in Karlovy Vary by promoting cultural immersion through local events, fostering an appreciation for nature by highlighting scenic spots, encouraging culinary exploration of traditional Czech dishes, and showcasing the city's local art and craftsmanship. 

The multi-language audio guide option in SmartGuide allowed Karlovy Vary to inform visitors about the history, culture, and landmarks in five languages. Unlike conventional audio tour guide systems, SmartGuide provides real-time updates and information based on the user's location, creating a more engaging and relevant learning experience.

Since the introduction of SmartGuide, the region has witnessed a boost in visitor engagement and exploration. This is leading to increased revenue generation for local businesses, attractions, and tour operators.

Exploring Karlovy Vary with a city card and SmartGuide’s tour guide system 06Exploring Karlovy Vary with a city card and SmartGuide tour guide system 05Exploring Karlovy Vary with a city card and SmartGuide tour guide system 07

Conclusion: SmartGuide plays a pivotal role in digitizing destination management and tourism marketing in Karlovy Vary

SmartGuide's self-guided tours have been transforming the Karlovy Vary tourism ecosystem, attracting diverse audiences with tailored tours and practical features such as GPS navigation, multi-language audio guides, and integrated city card functionality. With its groundbreaking approach to destination management, SmartGuide is revolutionizing the digital tourism landscape in Karlovy Vary, promoting the Karlovy Vary City Card, enhancing the overall tourist experience by evenly distributing visitors, and advancing modern-day tourism towards sustainability.

Are you ready to revolutionize your destination’s offering and attract diverse visitors as well? With the SmartGuide tour guide system, you can transform your marketing destination management strategy, just like Karlovy Vary did! Contact us today and take your visitors' experience to the next level.