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

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

AA Smartmaps

Online service allows travellers to customise maps
"The Automobile Association was today launching its AA SmartMap to allow travellers to customise travel maps around the country with any of thousands of pieces of data.

The online mapping system will include the quickest route between two points and make the location of toilets, cafes and restaurants, accommodation, boat ramps and points of interest easier to find.
The site can be accessed through aamaps.co.nz."
More and more location-based tourism applications are surfacing in New Zealand! =)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Google Local for mobile

It's all starting to fall into place... too bad I can't even try it out because I'm not in the US, but for those who are, check out Google Local for mobile:
"Combining directions, maps, and satellite imagery, Google Local for mobile is a free download that lets you find local hangouts and businesses across town or across the country — right from your phone.

Detailed directions: Whether you plan to walk or drive, your route is displayed on the map itself, together with step-by-step directions.
Integrated search results:
Local business locations and contact information appear all in one place, integrated on your map.
Easily movable maps: Interactive, draggable maps let you zoom in or out, and move in all directions so you can orient yourself visually.
Satellite imagery: Get a bird's eye view of your desired location."

Check out Oliver Starr's (of The Mobile Tech Blog) commentary here & here.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Wireless & tourism

In today's NBR: Wireless a key tourism feature
"According to chipmaker Intel, tourists are increasingly likely to pack notebooks as they head off to exotic locations, a development that's fuelled in part by the proliferation of digital cameras, email and instant messaging.

A new poll run by the company to ferret out the top 10 Asian wireless hotspots showed creative integration of wireless connectivity in some of the region's most attractive and/or busy locations - but it also demonstrated the increasing importance of public area wireless access for tourism."
Well, we already knew that internet service provision in NZ needed improvement, here's yet another reason why...

Monday, November 07, 2005

The NYT on Online Travel

The Online Travel Landscape Is Getting Crowded

"TRAVEL sites like Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz already have their hands full with airlines and hoteliers - their "valued partners" - luring consumers away with sites that look more like full-service travel agencies every day. Now, here come Yahoo and AOL, and maybe even Google.
Among other things, travelers may post articles, hotel and restaurant picks and reviews - from Yahoo or outside Web sites - and photos from their own files or from those on Yahoo's online picture-sharing service, Flickr.
"Customers are demanding the travel industry do what great merchants do, which is find out what'll help them be comfortable purchasing a product or service," Mr. McArthur said. "In some cases it'll be rich streaming video. In some cases, it'll be more basic stuff." "
Google has a slew of advantages on their side - the most recognisable brand, and the capability to integrate any travel services with Google Earth, Google Maps/Local Search, and put it all on the mobile, perhaps via SMS? Let's see how this turns out...

Sharing travel experiences: WAYN, TravelBlog & TravelPod

If a traveller wants to write about their travel experiences during their time abroad, while services like Blogger & Flickr have much wider recognition among internet users, there are also specialised sites designed specifically for this purpose, e.g. WAYN, TravelBlog & TravelPod. WAYN (Where Are You Now) looks especially interesting because of its focus on the user's current location. I'm assuming you have to update your location status manually, but I'm sure there would be a way to integrate the information from your mobile device to do this automatically.

However, I have doubts about these types of services being adopted by the mass market - perhaps that is not what they are trying to do in any case, but for the majority of people who only travel a few weeks a year (as opposed to constantly), it may make more sense to stick to general sites in order to share their travel experiences, as they may already have an established reader base and a familiar URL. For example, if I wanted to keep friends and family informed while I was overseas, I would just post entries to my LiveJournal instead of starting a new blog on a specialised service. Then again, just like Wikitravel & World66 (see my previous entry), there is probably more than enough room for both types of services to coexist happily while serving different markets!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

KRUSE & Wikitravel

Spotted in an issue of the Tourism NZ newsletter focusing on IT & tourism, this is exactly what I've been looking for - an affordable and (by the looks of it) fully-functional mobile travel guide in New Zealand! The blurb from the site describes it pretty well:

"To create the ultimate New Zealand experience for the self-drive traveller, Jonathan Kruse, President of KRUSE commissioned the development of KRUSE®, an innovative portable GPS technology that would automatically inform and entertain travellers on key points of interest as they journeyed throughout New Zealand.

Simultaneously over four years, Jonathan single-handedly created a tourist commentary network of over 1200 points of interest, covering New Zealand's history, people, native birds, plants and animals, geographical landmarks and scenic attractions. Information was meticulously researched and then recorded with appropriate music and sound effects to ensure an audio experience that is informative and entertaining.

As well as acting as your personal tour guide, KRUSE® also becomes your personal radio station. Once a commentary point has completed playing, you will then be entertained by music until you reach the next point of interest. Once you reach the next point of interest, the music currently playing will automatically fade out to allow you to hear the new commentary point."
Exciting stuff! I downloaded some of the sample audio tracks and found them both informative and amusing - did you know that 'Mangere' means 'laziness' in Maori? =) Anyway, I guess the only downside is that it's not a pedestrian guide as well, but I teel that the relatively low cost (only $10 per day) and the wide coverage will make it quite attractive for people going on a road trip around the country.

Something I spotted only today (even though I'm sure it's been around for a while) was Wikitravel - basically it's a collaborative database of travel information just like World66, except that it probably has higher credibility due to the fact it's attached to the Wikipedia brand. One of the downsides of having more than one wiki database serving the same need is that it causes unnecessary redundancies and splits the user base, which would be much better off joining together and sharing their knowledge; however, competition drives innovation, and neither of these wiki travel guides are in the mainstream yet - this is still dominated by companies such as Lonely Planet. Personally, I think that there's more than enough space in the world for both consumer-created and firm-created content. They serve different needs, and people are likely to use a combination of both, rather than solely relying on one or the other.

Only just over a month left before my thesis is due! Let me know if you'd be interested in obtaining a copy. The final product will be over 200 pages long, but I'll also be making a condensed report containing managerial implications, so that's probably going to be more interesting and relevant! =)