To demonstrate my point, I’m writing this post on my iPhone. Why, you ask, would I take the time to tap out a full post on my mobile? Partly because I wanted to prove a point but mostly because the battery on my laptop ran out and I really wanted to get this post done.
Okay, back to the point. Mobile devices like the iPhone are so capable now that you can write content and submit posts where ever you happen to be. The benefit to tourism is obvious, at least in my mind, and that is that you can now share experiences in real-time from where ever you happen to be. As a small tour operator or activity provider, you can post images to the web or even take small snippets of video and post them without having to go back to your office. Take my recent trip to Prince Rupert, BC for example. During my visit, I witnessed the most amazing scene of forty bald eagles feeding off a local pier. I was able take a photo with my iPhone and post it to twitpic within minutes. This is an experience you can only have in few locations in the World. The more you can share what makes your destination, tour, or attraction unique, the better off you’ll be.
Besides creating compelling and timely content, mobiles like the iPhone and Nokias give you access to some powerful business tools. Many of the tour operators I work with, for example, offer printable on-line vouchers as part of their on-line booking process. Many, however, have experienced increased voucher fraud, or duplicate vouchers. The challenge is that there is no easy way to check the vouchers until the tour operator is back at their computer. To address this, we decided to print out a 2D barcode on the vouchers produced by our tour operator software, Rezgo, which could be read using the iPhone using an app like BeeTag or any web enabled camera phone. The benefit is that any tour operator can now check the validity of a voucher by simply taking a picture of the 2D barcode using their mobile device. As long as they have a connection, they can make sure the voucher is valid. No special hardware is required and the feature is standard in Rezgo. There are a lot of new opportunities presenting themselves in the mobile space. The key for tour operators is to focus on opportunities that increase their ability to market & sell their tourism products and to reduce their administrative burden and costs. If you think of your mobile as a tool rather than just a phone, the opportunities very quickly present themselves.