Tourism and travel is an ever increasing industry that has actually registered a record growth in the recent period of recession, around the world.
Now that the mobile market is achieving an increasingly highlighted spot in the technological world, will apps be a relevant channel to promote tourism? In this article we reveal the top 10 reasons why choosing an app is a good option for promoting local regions.
Tourism, an ever increasing sector
Even in a period of economic crisis, international tourism industry results exceeded expectations and are expected to continue to grow in coming years. In 2013, there were about 1.1 billion tourists worldwide according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO) and Portugal was no exception – it proved to be a very positive year with a record growth in revenues and overnight stays.
Taking into account that about 95% of tourists use digital tools in search of the best experience before, during and after travelling and that the average customer accesses a combination of 19 sites and apps during his visit, we quickly realized that this is a golden opportunity for tourism based companies. In fact, booking through mobile devices has increased in recent months and is expected to reach 25% of all online transactions in 2017. This comes as no surprise given that nowadays a great deal of travel planning and booking is done by the travelers themselves. (Recent data shows that one in every five people in the world owns a Smartphone and spends most of their time on the phone using apps. It is easy to understand that visitors prefer this type of portable, convenient, practical and simple technology when travelling, especially geolocation-enabled applications such as the GPS. When using apps, tourists can access all kinds of information, book services, download maps and guides, leave reviews or share pictures of their holiday with a network of friends and family.
In recent years, there has been as increase in mobile apps for hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions, but most tourism companies are not following this technological development and only a few take full advantage of its potential.
This trend is called SoLoMo, the combination of social, local and mobile platforms in a single system whose goal is to reduce the distance between the user and its surroundings. Groupon and Foursquare are great examples of services that use social marketing and check-ins to promote places and businesses located close to the user.
Why should you choose an app to promote local tourism?
1. Improve the visitors’ experience
All Smartphone owners use apps to improve their travelling experience. This well-entrenched habit is a fantastic opportunity to promote local products and services, as it allows companies to give visitors what they want at the exact time they need it. By using tourism apps, visitors can discover places of interest; explore parks and gardens and visit museums, zoos, shops and restaurants, all by simply using their phone or tablet.
2. Offer an online booking service
People are booking hotel rooms, buying travel packs, tickets for shows and other services connected to tourism through apps. By offering an online booking service you are giving the users the opportunity to purchase what you are selling anywhere, anytime and in a simple and convenient manner.
3. Create a new way to attract visitors
By providing information on an app about your region and all the things it has to offer, you are not only giving it more visibility and helping increase the number of visitors by exposing it to an audience of millions, but also presenting it to the world as a dynamic and modern region that meets the consumers’ needs.
4. Provide easy access to information, maps and timetables
With an app you can provide information, maps and timetables for visitors, and even give real-time route diversions, make schedule changes or offer promotions. The visitors will have real time access to relevant information and can therefore rearrange or reorganize their travelling plans for a more enjoyable and cost-effective experience.
5. Reinforce local brand awareness
Your local brand’s name and logo will be on the screens of thousands of consumers all over the world. That will reinforce its awareness, familiarity with its products/services and help increase sales and visits.
6. Provide easy access to products and services
Mobile apps are a quick and convenient way to access your services and products 24 hours a day, anywhere and anytime.
7. Increase profits
By using apps to sell your services and products, you are using a new sales channel where you can create exclusive offers, promotions or sales and increase your profits.
8. Get to know your visitors and their preferences
Mobile apps offer you the chance to learn more about your visitors and market by giving you very important reports and statistics such as demographics, interests and preferences, but also help you analyze the relevance of what you are providing. This information may be used for future marketing campaigns, for app and brand optimization and to improve the visitors’ experience in the future.
9. Don’t be left behind
If your competitors offer an app service, you don’t want to be left behind and grant them the exclusivity in the mobile market. Think of how many customers you are losing every day by not having a mobile presence and how many deals you could have closed if your services were offered online 24h/7, on a platform with an exposure to millions of users.
10. Get direct feedback from your customers
Mobile apps will give you direct feedback from your customers and help you assist them as soon as they reveal difficulties, ask questions or need information. That is a great way to avoid bad publicity and unnecessary problems.
According to a study, around 69% of tourists like to go through tourism sites’ reviews before deciding their holiday. Offering an app service will work to your advantage as you will be able to monitor their comments or reviews and therefore improve the experience of those who visit you in the future.
Examples of Tourism Apps in Portugal
The Municipal Council of Guimarães launched the Guimarães Mobitur App when they received the European Capital of Culture title, in 2012.
This App helps those who visit the city to access relevant content (real time information about shows and transportation; a store to purchase tickets online, etc.) and a selection of events and relevant places visitors can enjoy on their own when staying in Guimarães.
As an interactive tour guide Guimarães Mobitur provides a navigation based system with geolocation that helps you know where you are at all times.
This mobile tour guide presents the city of Chaves as a tourism destination and is available in three languages (Portuguese, English and Spanish).
The tool was created by the Municipal Council of Chaves and provides information on places of interest, restaurants, hotels, monuments, museums and spas.
Access is free to users and business owners who wish to join the project and give more visibility to their products or services by providing detailed information on the App. This fosters a closer relationship between local businesses, tourists and residents.
All management costs of the Vive Chaves App are supported by the Municipal Council.
The oPORTOnity City is an App designed by the Municipal Council of Oporto, to help visitors and potential tourists find the best places and events in Oporto.
With this App, you can browse through places of interest to visit in the city by category (families, young travelers, seniors, couples, exclusive access) and it’s available in three languages (Portuguese, English and Spanish).
By Cristina Silva