The WTM Africa discussion around millennials and mobile has rehashed a few useful insights into what travellers expect when it comes to travel information in the palm of their hands.
It seems that things have moved on quite well since I chaired the mobility steam of Customer Contact World in Johannesburg some years ago.
As a frequent traveler I get so frustrated with the evolution of mobile brochure-ware that simply takes printed content and presents it as a magazine with hyperlinks for mobile, and often as this story says, not ‘responsive’ which is industry jargon for a mantra we started probably 20 years ago which was A-cubed, i.e. anytime, anywhere, any device.
I have been involved in massive amounts of expensive research, both as a consultant and as a sponsor. A lot of the research is based on assumptions and is often biased towards the theories or opinions held by the researchers or those funding the projects, often motivated by a requirement to be seen to be researching rather than by outcomes.
In the tourism industry one would think the key outcomes would be profit and positive GDP for the tourist regions and businesses, together with very happy travelers who have such a great trip that they either come back themselves or tell their friends they must go visit that place. Word of mouth is far more valuable than a nice colored brochure or app.
I totally agree that having apps is not essential, unless they are awesome and really add value. In the USA a shining example of great apps for venues is the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville Tennessee.
App fatigue is a major issue for travelers and a focus on what they actually want is key. The real problem is understanding what they want and it is important to find out without leading the questions, i.e. qualitative research. I love the ending of this article which is about hack events. I was involved as a guest judge in HackAKL, last year, which was about hacking travel and public transport information which resulted amongst other things in a fantastic public transport app. It was very clear in the concepts that came from the more than 300 attendees (which were not just developers, but a wide variety of people) that they were motivated, not by making lots of money, but by solving customer problems.
If you can inspire your customers into hack events, you have a much better chance of finding out what they really want. Just a suggestion on that, if tourists are your target market, domestic or international, they need to be involved in the hack event. Obviously local business, tourism, government, transport and the industry need to be involved, but somehow you need to engage your target customer base. With today’s technology and the customer details you have kept of visitors to your country, city and attractions, combined with universities and some spend into the target markets, this shouldn’t be too hard. For example http://www.govhack.org/ is a hack event that will run concurrently in many cities throughout New Zealand and Australia. With sponsors such as Google, the technology barriers disappear.
If you are able to provide for tomorrow’s customers and engage with them in the ways that they want to be engaged, your future tourism market could be a shining example to the rest of the world.
Then of course, they need to be able to stay connected. That has long been your challenge. Perhaps Google can help there too?