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

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Adding value to Timespots

I was going to blog this last week, but my home connection was having some problems and I gave up - here it is now anyway!

I noticed that Engadget finally picked up on that Timespot location-based tourism service in Amsterdam. I say 'finally' because Russell over at The Mobile Technology Weblog mentioned it two weeks prior, and in the blogosphere, two weeks seems more like two months. Still! Good to see LBT (location-based tourism) highlighted in such a highly-trafficked blog.

I wonder if the Timespot offering could be directly adapted for any city, e.g. Auckland? One of their development partners is Vodafone, so it is quite conceivable that Vodafone NZ would be interested in this type of thing. In fact, being such a global brand, Vodafone is in a prime position to ensure that it is the mobile service provider of choice when it comes to LBT using the Timespot model. Other developmental partners included the city council, the tourism board, and a publisher of tourism guides.

In terms of NZ, I know for a fact that the Ministry of Tourism is highly interested in LBS/LBT (hence me receiving this scholarship), and the local city councils are usually quite happy to jump at the chance of promoting their areas (as long as it doesn't disturb the residents too much, i.e. in the form of a V8 supercar race) , so... if someone offered them a sensible-sounding business proposition for LBT, they should (in theory) take it. Who wants to offer it to them? We need a company like Nika (the 'initiator of the Timespots initiative'). What with all the ambitious Kiwi entrepreneurs out there, maybe a Nika-like firm already exists, but they just haven't met the right venture capitalists yet? Anyway, just some more thoughts to throw into the m-commerce cauldron...

I also watched the (somewhat cheesey) promotional video and the 'call other Timespotters for free' proposition definitely caught my eye - it's the beginnings of a social network, rather reminiscent of the Geocaching community. At first I thought it would be pointless building up a social network for tourists, seeing as they're only in the city for a short amount of time, and are always moving around. But then I realised that social networking for tourists would be highly beneficial to the tourists involved.

When you're at a tourist attraction like a lookout point, you might need to ask someone else to take a photo for you or just start chatting spontaneously because you have something in common (travelling). Why not incorporate the natural comraderie of travelling into a Timespot service to add some real value? Kind of like the Yellow Arrow project, but with a Tourism slant - travellers can leave caches (like Geocaching!) of reviews, tips and random messages for other travellers. We know from Wikipedia that the user-created content model is an easy and cheap way of amassing data while giving users a sense of power and community. I will probably try and develop this idea a bit further later, but I think it's definitely something that would make the service even 'stickier' for the users involved.


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