DMOs Going Mobile – Are you there yet?

As mentioned in an earlier post the internet is now involved in 85% of holiday purchases while smartphone mobile usage is steadily increasing along with the demand for more travel information and location based applications.

Since a DMO’s role is not only to promote the destination as a whole but also the tourism businesses and suppliers in that destination, considering the latest web developments they need to go where the consumer is instead of trying to convince them to come to them. Towards this direction a DMO website should be visually appealing, easy to use and providing value adding features and information in order to keep the visitors. Considering therefore that 43% of mobile phone users are now carrying a smartphone, and more than one third of mobile users plan to book their travel on their phones in the next year, DMOs need to be looking at smartphone marketing.

Let’s have a look at how several DMOs around the world (certainly not an exhaustive list) have entered the mobile destination marketing arena:

VisitEngland unveils iPhone application

VisitEngland has launched its first official iPhone application to inspire users to make the most of their time in England, whether they are planning a trip or are already in their destination.

Users can personalise their search according to indoor or outdoor activities, or the most popular ‘must-see’ things to do, and those sticking to a budget can be inspired by hundreds of free ideas. Each result comes complete with a Google Map location.

VisitEngland has had a successful partnership with the Guardian over the past two years, which has enabled the Enjoy England iPhone app to include free access to Guardian travel content. There are also over 1,000 readers’ tips, plus additional ideas from, detailed information on the whole of England available offline as well as the possibility to save any attractions or great ideas to favourites.

The post-launch phase will see an additional function, which will enable users to capture a special moment or favourite view using the app which will then send a hard copy of the picture as a postcard to the chosen address.


Colorado Tourism Office launches new mobile website

Travelers planning an epic Colorado road trip this summer will able to share their pictures of Hanging Lake and the Maroon Bells, as well as their Foursquare check-ins with an easy click from their smartphones, thanks to the snazzy new mobile website launched by the Colorado Tourism Office this month.

The mobile site is designed for iPhones, Android devices and other smartphones and features buttons for hot deals, timely specials from hotels and restaurants and listings for special events and concerts. It serves as a launchpad to  connecting with the Colorado Tourism Office via social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Foursquare.

“Mobile technologies are rapidly evolving and they enable us to engage visitors before and during a trip to Colorado,” said Colorado Tourism Office director Al White. “The mobile My Colorado feature, currently a popular function of, enables visitors to share their itineraries with friends following the completion of their trip, using the connectivity of social media channels,” he added.


Visit Orlando is using mobile marketing to spearhead its latest campaign

Visit Orlando, the convention and visitor’s bureau is promoting the chance to win a free trip for four to the city. Once entered in the contest, consumers can opt-in to receive ongoing promotions and information about Orlando as a travel destination.

“The strategy with this campaign is twofold,” said Eric Harber, president and chief operating officer of Hipcricket, Kirkland, WA. “First, Visit Orlando will be introduced or reintroduced to potential visitors. Second, the organization is building a loyalty club of opted-in consumers,” he said. “This allows Visit Orlando to interact with these people on an ongoing basis and offer them promotions, deals and suggestions of fun things they can do while visiting Orlando.”

The contest is currently being promoted through a number of channels, including SMS and banner and in-app ads on several different media properties. An SMS mobile call to action is also being included in radio spots, on and on a billboard in New York’s Times Square. With the call to action, consumers are being asked to text a keyword to a shortcode in order to be entered in the contest. Although the contest kicked off in April, results regarding the number of people texting in have not yet been disclosed.

Hipcricket, the mobile marketing service provider who co-developed the campaign, did say that Visit Orlando has been able to build a mobile database of opted-in consumers for future marketing initiatives. Building a mobile database is a key component of a mobile marketing strategy and allows for continued consumer interest long after the initial promotion has ended. Businesses are also able to maintain a voice and command attention in a competitive industry.

“An opted-in consumer has raised his or her hand and is open to ongoing engagement,” Mr. Harber said. “For Visit Orlando, this keeps the entity top of mind and builds loyalty via offers and information that consumers desire.”


Hong Kong Tourism Board launches augmented reality mobile applications

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and Cathay Pacific Airways recently announced their joint initiative – DiscoverHongKong Mobile App Series – one of the first smart phone travel application series in the world that makes use of the augmented reality technology.

HKTB Chairman Mr James Tien said: “In recent years, Wi-Fi technology has advanced progressively, leading to greater functions for smart phones and the popular trend of promotions via the mobile platform. Our visitor survey also showed that more than half of all visitors to Hong Kong bring a smart phone with them during their trip. Capitalising on this trend, we have joined hands with Cathay Pacific to devise the DiscoverHongKong Mobile App Series, enabling visitors to find tourist information near their location easily when they are travelling in Hong Kong. These mobile applications also provide a platform for the HKTB to introduce the mega events and activities, as well as retail and dining outlets in the city, maximising the effectiveness of our promotions.”

The DiscoverHongKong Mobile App Series currently includes two applications. One of these is “DiscoverHongKong AR”, which features over 100 attractions, 5,000 retail outlets and 2,000 dining establishments, as well as the shopping malls and open-air markets all over Hong Kong.

Combining the augmented reality technology with the global positioning system (GPS) and camera of the smart phone, the application shows points of interest, including major attractions, shops accredited under the HKTB’s Quality Tourism Services Scheme and award-winning restaurants, in visitors’ vicinity. All visitors need to do is use the camera of their phone as a viewer, and the points of interest will appear overlaid on the real-world views on the phone screen. They can also tap each of these points of interest for detailed information (such as introduction and address), and refer to the offline map for transportation routes, making the application a round-the-clock digital travel guide for travellers.

The other application, “DiscoverHongKong City Walks”, leads visitors through four themed walking trails in the urban areas of Hong Kong. Also using the augmented reality technology, a detailed offline map and the GPS, this application acts like a docent by providing in-depth information on each of the attractions along the trails, enriching visitors’ travel experience in Hong Kong. There is also a search function for users to locate shops, restaurants, MTR exits and Wi-Fi hotspots near the trails.

In addition, the HKTB is collaborating with PCCW to provide Wi-Fi services at over 8,000 hotspots for visitors to access and download the travel applications onto their smart phones at no cost. This service helps to enhance visitors’ experience during their stay in Hong Kong.


Tourism Victoria, BC has a Mobile Application

Visitors and locals alike have a new way to get the latest information about all there is to do in Victoria, British Columbia since September 2010. The launch of Tourism Victoria’s travel guide-like mobile app is a major initiative for the organization and a new all-inclusive feature for Greater Victoria.

Rob Gialloreto, President & CEO of Tourism Victoria stated: “Tourism Victoria is delighted to launch this free mobile app to help visitors explore our remarkable destination. It combines traditional destination information with a digital focus to capitalize on what we’re seeing as a more mobile-focused visitor base. With a great mapping tool and instant access to our digital initiatives, we’re confident this app will do nothing but showcase Greater Victoria to potential visitors.”

One of only a handful of destination marketing organizations in British Columbia to have a mobile app, Tourism Victoria has really focused on being digitally present in an ever-increasing online-based market. Similar destination specific apps attain between 400 and 1000 downloads per month and Tourism Victoria is poised to achieve similar results. Part of the organizations digital strategy efforts, the mobile app launch now joins Tourism Victoria’s mobile website, various social media efforts including twitter and facebook, and developing blogs green Victoria and going local.

Designed for quick access information, Tourism Victoria’s mobile app connects users to a comprehensive list of member suppliers and events. Specific features on the app include: activity ideas, interactive and GPS enabled maps, a calendar of events, and a direct Twitter link. In addition, all of Tourism Victoria’s member suppliers are showcased on the app. Attractions, accommodations, transportation, outdoor activities, dining, shopping, theatre, arts and entertainment, tours, and various visitor services listing are all capable of direct connection from the app to the member by phone, email, or website.


Have any more cases in mind or would like to know more about a similar subject? Feel free to let us know through the comments area below!

9 thoughts on “DMOs Going Mobile – Are you there yet?

  1. I love the way in which the tourism industry is making the connection to technology. It’s essential that information is being offered in a way that fits with the way consumers ‘work’. The only downside to the present development of mobile applications are the roaming costs. As a foreign visitor you will either need a local calling card or a wifi network. That is if you don’t want to hand over all your holiday savings to your telephone company….

    1. Very true Jeroen! Roaming costs are definitely an issue, however it can be leveraged by the offer of destination services, in accordance to what the consumers need (such as Wi-Fi)- see eg. Hong Kong. So apart from just investing in technological advancements, destination management organizations need to develop accordingly the ancillary services that will complement the offering, through a coordinated and integrated strategy.

      1. That’s right Manolis. We need more cities/destinations that don’t just welcome their guests with a printed leaflet, but that also offer a technological network that visitors can use.And off course it would help if providers would cut their roaming costs. That would offer room for rapid growth.

  2. Question is what is most effective a mobi site or application to the consumer? We currently have mobi site available and have been looking at an app…

    1. It is a fact that mobile-optimised websites improve user experience and satisfaction. A mobile website provides improved rankings on mobile-friendly search engines and also allows placement in a growing number of mobile and local directories.
      Make sure that your mobile site is a trusted local resource for area information, attractions, restaurants etc. You can definitely gain a competitive advantage by having a mobile website that looks good and provides relevant, easy to use information where and how users want it.
      EyeFor TRavel mentions that a recent study by BizRate showed a growing 19% of people used mobile ready sites for shopping, while only 3.6% of people downloaded shopping apps. Other studies have shown the average lifespan of certain mobile apps can be as brief as 30 days.
      These are the reasons that mobile websites, not apps, are becoming the standard for the travel industry.
      Of course if you look to develop an app then make sure that the added value will be worth the investment and the customer’s time to seek it out, download it and keep it.

    2. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think a lot of travel apps evolve around the use of the gps to provide ‘location based services’. This means providing travel information based on your actual location. I have not yet seen a mobile website provide this type of information, so in that way they definitely serve a different purpose.

      1. Location based apps certainly serve a different purpose than mobile sites. During the last 3 years or so, a lot of DMOs have run to build apps following the trend. The question is if an app is more effective than a mobi site for a DMO’s audience, thus worth the notable investment.

        Many experts nowadays argue that after building a useful mobile website, as a resource for all destination info, the next move should be towards the destination’s distribution channels. An investment in the co-development of an app-guide with an established online supplier, providing all necessary content about the destination, is deemed more effective at this stage than building a separate destination app.
        A destination-based app is more likely to maximize effectiveness when it is very niche and targeted, e.g. for specific group- specific product/offer).

  3. It just makes sense to have a mobile app with the increase in smartphone users. That number is going to keep going up for years to come. Native apps are becoming fairly reasonable.

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