Latest edition of ‘Santa Fe Visitors Guide’ adds video options with help from local startup

December 25, 2018

The 2019 Santa Fe Visitors Guide has gone high-tech.

It’s still an all-paper publication, but one click on a smartphone or tablet above 15 photos in the visitors guide will trigger a video on your device.

This is the first time the Tourism Santa Fe has incorporated video options into its 56-page print guide.

“I think the potential visitor will see us as a little more contemporary, a little more hip,” said Randy Randall, executive director of Tourism Santa Fe, the city agency that operates Visit Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Community Convention Center and the Santa Fe Arts Commission.

An app created by Santa Fe startup RealityX2 (spoken as Reality Times Two) uses photo recognition. When the RX2 app in a smartphone and tablet recognizes a photo labeled RX2 in the guide, a video related to the photo emerges on the device.

“The younger generation is much more into video,” Randall said. “It’s absolutely the thing of the future. The app makes the visitors guide interactive. It adds a third dimension.”

Randall notes the average age of a Santa Fe visitor has been 59 years old at least since 2010.

“It will come down by three years,” Randall predicts. “I think Meow Wolf has had a big impact.”

Meow Wolf is featured on the 2019 Santa Fe Visitors Guide cover along with an RX2 marker.

Other RX2 photos that trigger videos include a Santa Fe overview; Dale Ball Trails; did you know factoids; New Mexico True views; art; holiday magic; architecture; Native American arts and culture; performing arts; food; Santa Fe Margarita Trail; outdoor adventure; and beyond Santa Fe.

There are instructions on how to install and use the app on the table of contents page.

This first effort was an experiment for both Tourism Santa Fe and RealityX2.

Tourism Santa Fe simply took existing videos from its files and from partner organizations and linked them to the RX2 app. The videos were added after the guide was designed.

“Some of the videos we need to improve,” Randall said. “Some don’t have any words to it. Next year we will move into a whole arena. We will build the book based on video content.”

In 2020, images selected for the RX2 app will be still images from the videos where the freeze frame will come to life in the videos.

Tourism Santa Fe is one of two first clients for RealityX2, along with the Another Face of Mexico mask museum in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. The RX2 app went live in November, said Robert Erlichman, the company’s founder and CEO.

Erlichman describes RX2 as an augmented reality mobile app that “overlays digital content over the physical world.”

Erlichman approached Randall at an after-hours mixer, and Randall said “we were immediately sold” on the concept. They came to a $6,000 deal to incorporate RX2 in the visitors guide.

“I’m making very enticing deals,” Erlichman said.

Some might think printed visitors guides are archaic, but Tourism Santa Fe still prints 350,000 a year, though that’s down from 400,000 three years ago. Randall noted the visitors guide is fully funded from advertising without tapping into his $11.2 million budget.

Randall said of the 80,000 people who responded to Tourism Santa Fe’s last visitor survey, 70 percent said they used the visitors guide as a primary source and 50 percent said they used the internet and visitors guide.

The 2019 visitors guide became available the week of Dec. 10 at the Santa Fe Visitors Center and for mail order by tourists and was distributed to local hotels the week of Dec. 17. Major shipments will go to Texas, Colorado, Arizona and visitors centers in New Mexico in early January, Randall said.

Santa Fe draws about 1.7 million visitors, up from 1.2 million visitors five years ago, Randall said.

“A lot of that is the advent of short-term rentals,” Randall said, referring to Airbnb, Vacasa and other such companies.

He estimates about 1,300 to 1,400 short-term rental units in the Santa Fe market, mostly in or near downtown, in addition to the 5,000 hotel rooms across Santa Fe County. Downtown has 1,922 hotel rooms, he said.

“[Short-term rentals] literally doubled the rooms in the historic downtown without adding a hotel,” Randall said.

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