current local offerings
“A free travel guide to the Palm Springs Desert Resorts area covering monthly events, attractions, shopping and offering the best rates on hotels and golf tee times. The official guidebook of the Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention and Visitors Bureau – includes everything you need to know about where to go and what to do while in the desert.”
Cathedral City has had a lot of success with their app. It is quite impressive. But, I tend to think its success is mostly because it’s the first of its kind in the area; it has novelty and no competitors. Once other desert cities launch similar apps it will become a competition to market the apps and try to convince every potential user that it’s worth installing one app, or another, or all of them. Most likely the response of potential users will be to ignore the whole idea.
the problem: competition=diminishing returns
an alternative approach: collaboration=infinite potential
One app that is ubiquitously marketed to all visitors of, say the whole Coachella Valley, that can guide you to all points of interest in that area, is a much more manageable and valuable proposition. Also, an app that is state of the art with advanced features like analyzing your, and your travel companions’, social media feeds and personal calendars to automatically provide suggested itineraries based on your interests and existing schedules, is much more appealing than a low budget custom Google map with some bells and whistles.
Palm Springs Life has the right idea but they need to make one or two apps that serve a broader range of functions instead of a whole suite of apps targeted at specific segments of the market. Apps that serve narrow purposes for specific types of users are much less desirable than broad purpose apps that can adapt to each individual user’s needs and preferences
infinite potential? really?
Yes, the potential is virtually infinite if a standard protocol can be developed that allows these apps to inter-operate with each other and integrate with common mapping, scheduling, and social media platforms. Other important aspects to consider in order to realize that potential include:
- Content: the content model has to be inclusive of the appropriate agencies or organizations for each area.
- Branding: content managers per area should have the ability to use branding techniques for all the points of interest therein.
- Interaction: user contributed content would be important also, adding photos and videos, commenting, reviewing, recommending, sharing, and live-streaming video from points of interest and especially from events would be important features to incorporate.
A beautiful ad revenue model?
I do not often see beauty in things like advertising revenue models, but this has to be an exception. A tourism app platform, like what I’ve described here, offers excellent advantages for advertising revenue and monetization. For instance: non profits, cultural institutions, and of course public monuments and places would be included in the app as informational content, but users will want to access other information for convenience, such as restaurants and bars, sporting events, and shopping. These are commercial operations and thus can generate advertising revenue to support the app’s continued operation. This revenue could be derived from partnering with existing directories like Yelp! and Google MyBusiness exchanging the additional reach and impressions from the app for a share of the fees they have already collected from their customers for paid advertising services. The beautiful part is that this “advertising” could blend right in, very organically, with the other content of the app. It could also offer direct ad sales for featured positioning. And that’s just the local advertisers. Open it up to highly targeted offerings from eCommerce and nationwide or international service companies and there really isunlimited revenue potential.
travel or telepressence?
With the latest push from companies like Google, Kodak, Samsung and others, virtual reality, augmented reality, computational photography and immersive video technologies are becoming more pervasive and will soon be ubiquitous. This will soon converge with increasingly advanced behavioral analysis algorithms and artificial intelligence systems resulting in a dramatic transformation of our whole concept of place, distance, experience, and memory.
Very small, intimate, authentic cultural experiences will have the potential to reach thousands via real-time VR, or millions via recorded VR. This explosion in reach will come at almost no expense to the inherent qualities of the experience. The intimacy and authenticity will be preserved while each individual participant’s experience, whether virtual or real, will be unique because their movements and viewing angles will be their own.
With all that in mind, the need for a robust, universal, “internet” of culture if you will, becomes a clear priority. Cultural tourism app developers and purveyors need to consider this fast approaching paradigm.
Given a platform like what I’ve described here, these apps could serve as far more than just cultural tourism guides. They could also function as sporting event guides, business and economic information agents, real estate search tools, scientific and historical research libraries, etc.
Multi-functionality and adaptability are the keys to creating lasting value for app users. There are too many apps already, too many choices, most aren’t worth doing the research necessary to find the best of the breed. App markets will increasingly need to rely on community curation and advanced algorithms to keep top quality apps within a few taps of users’ search results. The developers and products that will achieve long term success in mobile applications are those that move towards compatibility and integration with other apps, reducing redundancy, and providing as much information and rich, immersive media as possible without forcing the user to install yet another app.