Mobilising Tourism BusinessesMobile Apps VS Mobile Websites
Do a search for “tours and activities” in the AppleApp store, for example, and you’ll find that all ofthe tourism mobile applications are for servicesthat re-sell other operator’s services.The chances of finding an app produced by anactual operator are extremely slim. The primaryreason, besides the cost of creating such an app, isthat an app for a single operator has littleusefulness.
On a recent trip to Miami, we booked a dolphinencounter, a jet boat ride, and a sightseeing tour.Despite the fact that none of have had apps todownload, there is no way I would have bothereddownloading an app for each of these providersbecause I would most likely only use the app once andthen delete it.I did, however, visit the operator websites while inMiami and, sadly, none of them were mobile friendly.
Location-based service irrelevancyIn addition to app irrelevance, an issue that doesn’tseem to get discussed very often, is that locationbased services (which are a big part of the mobileecosystem) are not relevant for many in destinationtour operators.Why? Because very few in-destination tour andactivity operators operate out of their place ofbusiness.
Showing a traveler how close they are to an operator’sbusiness address doesn’t really help. Almost all of thepopular mobile location-based services work wellfor fixed locations like restaurants, attractions, or pointsof interest, but they don’t work well for tours.Being able to show tours or activities regardless ofoperator however is much more relevant. This is wherecompanies like Viator and GetYourGuide shine.
The Viator iPhone app, for example, shows you alltours close to you. Compare that to Google Local, forexample, which will show you businesses (based ontheir address) close by. These are completelydifferent searches with completely different relevancefor the traveller.
[NB: Compare the results from the Viator app onthe left and centre versus the Yelp app on theright. The Viator app shows actual tours and allowsyou to book in destination. The Yelp app shows atravel agency listing - not very useful.]
Mobile is about communicatingSo what are tourism businesses supposed to do whenit comes to mobile? Is being listed in the Yelp app orthe Yellow Pages useful to a tour operator looking forimpulse travel customers?In the pay-to-play world of mobile, small businessessimply cannot compete head to head with the bigguns. Frankly there is little point in competing headon with the big players.
Generally speaking they have the marketing anddevelopment budgets to outspend any small operator.If possible, small operators should try to partner withthe marketplaces so their tours and activities areavailable in their apps and mobile websites.In addition to distributing through thesechannels, there are lots of web applications availablenow that allow small businesses to create mobilewebsites that are relatively inexpensive.Services like Quantum SEO Solutions, forexample, allow small businesses to create a mobilefriendly website with maps and click to call buttons for$10 a month hosting plus a development fee.
Watch this video: Mobile Websites forRestaurants and Dinner Shows
If the operator is already using a platformlike WordPress, there are plugins that willautomatically detect and convert a WordPress site intoa mobile friendly version.The key to winning the mobile battle for smallbusinesses in tourism is understanding what travellersare likely to do when they are in destination.If the traveler is looking for things to do, andtherefore shopping around, a good portion (over athird of them) are likely to pick up brochures or rackcards to find out more about local tours and activities.
They may even do a search on Google for “Things todo in X”. If they find one they want to do, they willcall or go online on their mobile device to book. Inthis case, having a well optimized website with amobile friendly interface and clear instructions on howto book are critical.If the traveler has already booked the tour or activityand is looking to confirm their plans a day or two inadvance, they will most likely refer to a printedvoucher or email for contact information to call.
It’s generally unlikely that they will email an operatorto confirm a reservation that’s only a day or twoaway, but they might. These travelers will most likelyvisit the operator’s website to check for directions andto confirm travel times once in a location.
What to doSo an operator can focus their mobile optimized siteto provide the following information:• Address information and a map (preferably linked toGoogle Maps or the new Apple Maps application) foreasy directions.• A click to call button so the traveler can call theoperator without having to dial the number.• A click to email button in order to send an messageto the operator.• A mobile booking interface so that a traveler canbook a tour or activity in real-time and get aconfirmation on their phone.
That last one may be a bit of a stretch for mostoperators, but it is eventually where they will want tobe. In the meantime, making it easy for the traveler toconnect with the operator is a great place to start.It’s pretty safe to say that the age of mobile has arrivedand that this year “is the year of mobile” .In the same way the web became a ubiquitous part ofour daily lives back in the 90s, mobile is now becomingjust as commonplace.
Thankfully, the cloud and software-as-a-service(SaaS) web applications are making it easier andmore cost effective for tourism businesses of all sizesto get mobile ready.The challenge now, as back then with the internet, isensuring operators understand the benefits of beingmobile friendly and that they make the appropriateinvestments.The consumer intent is there – the ability for tourismbusiness to deliver is still in question.Source – http://www.tnooz.com
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