Oz tourism industry urged to take adventurous approach

Jan 22, 2015

Personalised messaging sent to tourists’ smartphones when they cross virtual boundaries is the new weapon being investigated by the tourism industry to entice Aussies to holiday at home.

Timed to coincide with the spike in summer holidaymakers, smart mapping company Esri Australia, has released technologies which enable tourism operators to place an invisible perimeter – or geofence – around a destination such as the Sydney Opera House, a city or entire region.

When a tourist crosses the boundary, personalised offers – such as tour details, promotions or accommodation packages – are delivered directly to their phone via a downloaded app.

The service can also provide historic and cultural facts about key tourist destinations.

Esri Australia Industry Solutions Manager Gary Johnson said the ‘geotriggered’ messages would allow the industry to start tailored conversations with tourists at crucial moments during their holidays.

“Unlike SMS or email campaigns, the technology doesn’t bombard tourists with random material at an inappropriate time or place,” Mr Johnson said.

“Instead – by taking advantage of smartphone GPS features – smart mapping technology can provide tourism operators with the opportunity to interact with tourists at the right place and right time.”

The latest Tourism Australia 10-year forecast suggests that a domestic holiday is becoming an increasingly popular choice with local travellers. The peak body expects the number of domestic holiday nights to rise from 293.2 million in 2013-14 to 316.4 million by 2022-23.

Recent ABS data also shows that, for the first time in more than a decade, the number of overseas tourists coming to Australia is growing faster than the number of Australians departing for international holidays.

Mr Johnson said the domestic tourism industry needed to capitalise on these trends and provide enhanced tourism experiences to keep locals holidaying at home and international travellers choosing Australia as their destination of choice.

“Much like our tourism attractions, Australia needs to be adventurous and lead the world in enhancing the visitor experience,” Mr Johnson said.

“How many times do you see people walking through a city looking down at their smartphones?”

“Through geotrigger technology, the smartphone can let the user know when to look up and see the architecture, artwork or artefact they’re walking past.”

“Imagine a tourist entering one of Australia’s renowned wine regions and being sent a detailed schedule and map of the day’s premier tastings.”

“Or a souvenir store providing discount offers to purchase a piece of memorabilia to take home to tourists stepping off the Harbour Bridge.”

“Councils can take the opportunity to deliver in-depth knowledge on the must-see attractions in their area – providing information on some of the secret hot spots only a local would know.”

“On the broader scale, the technology offers state-wide tourism authorities the opportunity to have sustained conversations with tourists, helping them to plan activities based on specific interests in particular regions.”

Mr Johnson said – as with many online tourism-based newsletters and notification services – participation would be voluntary, with tourists needing to ‘opt-in’ before their personal data and location are shared.

“It is an equal exchange: the tourist is prepared to provide some personal information – for example, their location and schedule – in return for premium offers or higher quality service,” Mr Johnson said.