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LBS & tourism through the eyes of a postgrad marketing student in New Zealand.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Why LBS & Tourism?

It's been a while and I still haven't really gotten into the flow of blogging here, so I thought I'd cheat and insert a pre-written exerpt from my scholarship application, just to tell you what LBS is all about. =)
“Knowledge of the end user’s location will be used to deliver relevant, timely and engaging content and information. For mobile network operators, location-based services represent an additional stream of revenue that can be generated from their investments in fixed infrastructure. For the end user, these services can help reduce confusion, improve the consumption experience, and deliver high-quality service options” (Rao & Minakakis, 2003, p61).

Location-based services (LBS) uses various positioning techniques such as GPS and Cell-ID to pinpoint a user’s location in order to offer value-added services such as safety, navigation & tracking, transactions, and information. According to Barnes (2003, p64) “Tourists are a key customer segment requiring location-based information, since they are most often found in unfamiliar geographic areas”. Specifically in New Zealand, in a recent address to the Wireless Forum’s Conference – Convergence 2004, the Hon. David Cunliffe (2004) commented on the shift New Zealand firms were making towards wireless technologies: “Very soon it may be possible to point your cellphone at any downtown office block, and download the names, business interests, contact details and floor locations of its occupiers. Or transfer that concept to tourism. Click on the flagpole at Kororareka and hear the story of Hone Heke. Point to a hotel and press a key to get room rates and tonight's restaurant menu. The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations.”

Wireless technologies such as LBS have great potential in enhancing the value and sustainability of tourism in New Zealand, but they have yet to be properly implemented in this country – research is needed to assess the perceived value of these services from both a tourism industry and tourism consumer point of view. In The Ministry of Tourism’s ‘Towards 2010 – Implementing the New Zealand Tourism Strategy’ document, New Zealand’s ‘ideal customer’ has been identified as the ‘interactive traveler’, someone who: is an opinion leader who shares perceptions online & learn facts from the internet, travel professionals & well-traveled friends; uses technology, especially mobile technologies, to enhance their lives; seeks out new, interactive experiences where they can engage with natural, social & cultural environments; and are active decision-makers who book immediately and have high discretionary incomes. Since wireless services such as LBS would be primarily targeted at these tech-savvy tourists, understanding the perceived value of this technology will become even more imperative if Tourism NZ is to cater to their specific needs, now and in the future.
The problem with all this, though, is that it's still just a pie in the sky. A delicious-looking pie, but it's still hanging in the sky nonetheless. Next post I'm going to talk about what happened to the other pie that some people tried to push into New Zealand, but it didn't quite work - MMS.

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