Mobile Strategy Secrets: 3 Tips for the Tourism Industry

March 18, 2015

Tourists are increasingly shifting their trip planning and buying to mobile platforms. In fact, 60% of smartphone users have downloaded at least one travel app, which means that today visitors are more likely to pull out a smartphone than a highlighted guidebook or paper map.

These changes are forcing organizations across the industry to expand beyond their traditional marketing channels and embrace this new promising platform. It used to be that marketing teams and executives in the tourism industry would ask why they should embrace mobile; nowadays the most common question is how to embrace mobile. To help answer that, here are three mobile solutions we’ve found to be effective.

1. Tourism Boards & Destinations: Deliver Targeted Trip Planning

For destinations looking to capture a larger percentage of a tourist’s vacation time, it’s important to provide a personalized experience to help them discover those “local gems” and keep them in the neighborhood. Download the “I Love NY” and “Visit London” apps to see examples of these kinds of mobile solutions. Here’s a sampling of some particularly great features we like:

Curated Adventures: The I Love NY app has a Concierge feature that asks users questions about the type of activities they like doing and then recommends a custom tailored adventure with recommended places and events to visit that day. Take it one step further by including weather and other contextual data to offer even better recommendations.

What’s Next?: The I Love NY app also uses the phone’s GPS data to recommend local restaurants and shops to see after visiting an attraction or landmark. Something 63% of tourists using smartphones will do.

Create My Itinerary: The Visit London app takes navigation and planning to the extreme by letting users select the attractions they want to visit and then generating the most efficient itinerary possible complete with customized walking directions. What better way to show how walkable London’s tourist attractions are?

2. Attractions: Provide an Enhanced Experience

For attractions looking to enhance (and extend) a visitor’s on-site interaction and establish a direct line of contact for post-visit communication, mobile-only features can deliver live, value-added content and, in the end, create happier customers. Download the “Eiffel Tower” and “Top of The Rock” apps and see how they got mobile smart with these key features.

Streamline Sales: The Eiffel Tower app lets visitors buy tickets with their phones, cutting down on the line—a win-win for visitors and the attraction. Long lines make for unhappy visitors and can discourage foot traffic passing by from attending.

Premium Content: Premium content can be as simple as offering the history of the locale like the Eiffel Tower app or as complex as the Top of the Rock virtual viewfinder that helps users identify the buildings they’re looking at from the observation deck. Audio tours, videos and augmented reality experiences are great uses of the mobile platform and are features that make a good experience even better.

Socialize: Referrals and recommendations are one of the fastest ways onto people’s calendars. Make it easy for happy customers to spread the word for you—and in a way people will remember. Top of the Rock, despite its bugginess, offers a clever snapshot feature that lets users embed their photos in postcard frames and share on social media.

3. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

No one needs another Foursquare, Google or Yelp. Although the big boys may have cornered the national mobile market on generic regional information, it is just that—generic. Take a look at what is already working well in your existing marketing strategies and evaluate them for mobile potential, in particular focusing on hyper-local information. Then add in mobile-unique features such as offline support, location services, geo-contextual notifications and more.

For tourism boards or destinations, it is critical—no matter what features you’re serving up—to provide that “insider” spin with content users can’t get anywhere else.

— By Drew Johnson