According to a new study from ChangeWave Research 39% of consumers now have a smartphone, which is almost double from a year ago.
Is it time to consider developing a travel application (app) for the handheld traveler?
That depends…. do you want to attract these handheld users who are visiting your community looking for places to stay, dining alternatives, things to do? If you are in the tourism business, now might be the time to recruit an application developer.
Consider Building an App instead of a Mobile Web site
Planning a Web site for handheld once meant restructuring your site to provide a mobile version of your content to ensure that simple, easy to see information was available to a handheld traveler. While this still may be important for your current Website, the iPhone which allows users to zoom to view your existing Web site clearly makes investment in a mobi Website a secondary consideration.
Apps can greatly enhance the experience and increase brand/region loyalty of an iPhone, Blackberry or Android phone user.
Currently in the iTunes store Apple has over 100 000 apps!
Developing an App: Three Important Considerations
* Think Here: Location, Location, Location. Start thinking about what your ideal traveler needs to know when en route or visiting your community.
* Think Now: Information needs to make life easier for your ideal guest now, and that may mean being ready to make the most of last minute business opportunities. Are you a family-friendly tourism biz? Consider investing in an application for the kids to pop onto their iPod Touch to keep them happy and entertained before, during and after their stay.
* Think Social: Encourage your guests to share photos, video, stories of their stay. For instance consider embedding a direct link from the app to your TripAdvisor profile where your guest can comment on their stay.
The Starwood Preferred Guest app is a really good place to start in considering how an app might benefit your ideal guest.
By linking the app to a guest account, Starwood Preferred can provide the guest with access to a range of services that enhance the guest experience and make it easy to book or check details of their stay. In addition the app links to the company blog. Your app could link to all kinds of multimedia content and automatically push your new content to App users as soon as you publish.
Which platforms should you be planning for?
While RIMs blackberry dominates the market, there has been a meteoric rise in the number of iPhone users over the past two years. All that for a phone that (until now) has had limited availability due to its restriction to few select networks (ie: AT&T in U.S. and Rogers in Canada). As Apple makes iPhone available across networks expect iPhone use to continue to outpace the growth of other handhelds.
Also in the near future expect to see the Google operating system – Android take its place on the chart below (new phones are just coming onto the market).
Things to Do:
* If you haven’t got a smartphone yet, get one (or try out an iPod Touch which has many of the iPhone capabilities). Think like a traveler. Figure out how your ideal clients might use them. Try out as many apps as possible. Keep a file of your great app insights.
* Focus on linking all your digital assets to specific geographic locations. One of the biggest implications of smartphones is that they easily link GPS co-ordinates to photos, video, audio and text.
* Get a conversation going in your dmo, cvb or tourism association. What could you do for your members that they can’t do themselves.