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Final year students at Ulster University have developed a digital strategy for the North West 200, which will deliver a strong digital dimension for one of Northern Ireland’s top sporting events.

The students from Ulster University’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, which is based at the Coleraine campus, designed components of the website, social media and smartphone applications to enhance event goers’ experience.

Working in collaboration with Fergus Mackay, Operations Manager of the North West 200, the Ulster University students used an innovative app-building platform, RAPORT, which was designed by an Ulster University researcher specifically for the tourism and events sector.

The app, created by the students provides live information and delivers updates about the North West 200 event through push notifications as well as through new platforms such as Snapchat.

Ulster University Business School’s Dr Peter Bolan said:

“We strive to provide our students with the opportunity to work with live businesses and industry scenarios to enhance the relevance of their learning and improve their employability in the tourism and events industry. We value the strong links we have with local businesses, and are delighted that through our innovative degree courses and the first-rate work of our students, we have been able to deliver a valuable solution for industry.”

North West 200’s Fergus Mackay commented:

“Working with the Ulster University students has been incredibly rewarding for both parties. The Vauxhall International North West 200 has established itself as a premier tourism event. It’s the largest outdoor sporting event in Ireland, attracting 100,000 visitors last year with 20 per cent of these coming from overseas.

“We aim to deliver a first-class visitor experience and the work of the Ulster University students in developing the digital dimension will be an important part of that.”

Ulster University Doctoral Researcher and creator of RAPORT, John Bustard added:

“Ulster University students are the first to use the Rapid App Prototyping Open Innovation Resource Toolkit (RAPORT) as part of a learning experience. Funded through the International Federation for Information Technologies, this platform is helping to enhance the entrepreneurial and technical skills of our students, whilst impacting and inspiring local tourism and events practice.”