Have you heard about smart cities? You may want to – but first, a little background.
You’ve heard to before – mobile marketing is where everything’s at, especially as tech-dependent millennials and GenZ become the primary consumers of all markets. With both open data platforms and the phenomenon called the Internet of Things that allow for greater exchange information between organizations and users.
What is the Internet of Things?
A simple definition from Jacob Morgan on Forbes.com follows: It’s “the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other),” allowing for the exchange of online data. Making information open means having it be more accessible to everyone. So in the context of travel and tourism, all of this techie stuff means mobile information, and the latest trend here is smart cities.
This is basically integrating everything a city does and applying technological solutions to manage their functioning. Those services include transportation, schools, municipal services, law enforcement, and anything that’s related to making a visitor’s experience more enjoyable.
Perhaps the most important feature of the smart cities concept is augmented reality, which involves people using their mobile devices, primarily phones, and being able to access information easily. Specifically, they can now simply point to a restaurant or place of interest and gain instant information without having to a search engine first, or go to a directory app like Yelp or TripAdvisor. They can also provide suggested itineraries and track public transportation schedules.
Smart cities: The next wave
Of course, this makes looking for travel information that much easier for visitors. An article on Skift showed that Fort Lauderdale’s and Palm Springs’ convention and visitors bureaus are already on board with this technology, and more are joining them.
Greg Curtin, founder and CEO of Civic Resource Group, is leading the way for CVB’s to take advantage of this growing phenomenon. He believes that the demand will only increase in 2016, since metro areas are putting the infrastructure in place to make all of this happen. He asks, “How can (civic leaders) pull all of this together and build on the concept of smart cities…How do we create smart, compelling experiences for our citizens, businesses and visitors?”
Curtin says the demand comes from travelers who want something more than just attending the conference or sticking around their hotel area. He acknowledges that the majority of travelers are eager to use mobile devices for travel information, and destination marketing organizations, convention and tourism bureaus and tour and activity providers would benefit to join up. They can now share the information provider role that TripAdvisor and Yelp have dominated for the past decade. The combined use of emerging technology and already-existing databases allow for cities to take information and repurpose it into a mobile-friendly format.
What does this mean for your travel business?
As more information becomes part of these programs, more DMO’s and travel businesses will get on board to increase exposure for their activities and attractions. What this means for you, the travel marketer, is another new way to promote your company that moves dramatically away from traditional forms of advertising or travel literature. Awareness and knowledge becomes as easy as pointing a mobile device, so be ready for this change. It’s coming sooner than you think.
Of course, this is more applicable if you live close to a major metropolitan area that is considering using smart city technology. But even if your travel business is based significantly further away from one, you still may want to find out from your local tourism bureau if they are thinking about this type of technology on a smaller scale. At some point, most of the traveling world will likely be covered by this type of mobile information.
Have you had any experience or are you currently working with any smart city technology in your travel marketing? Share your thoughts below!