It will happen sooner or later. Probably sooner, considering how popular mobile devices are becoming. You, or someone on your staff, will say, “We need an app for our tourist destination!”

It might be that you are motivated by the news:

  • In 2012, more smartphones were sold around the world than computers, according to Gartner and IDC.
  • In 2012, the number of smartphone users worldwide passed one billion for the first time, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.
  • In the United States, 88 percent of smartphone users accessed travel-related information, spending an average of 93 minutes per month on travel apps and websites, according to a study conducted last year by Nielsen for xAd, a location-based advertising network.
  • A study of leisure travelers by Text 100 echoed those findings, with nine out of ten respondents reporting that they traveled with a 3G or Wi-Fi-ready device when on vacation.
  • Mobile travel services will account for some $10 billion in transaction value this year. This figure includes worldwide paid app downloads, mobile-mediated bookings, and advertising revenue.

So yes, I would agree ~ you DO need an app. But what exactly is an “app”?

An App is Not an App is Not an App (Is Not an App)The word “app” appears four times in the above subtitle because there are basically four different types, and plenty of confusion about them all. They are:

  1. Native apps
  2. Web apps
  3. Hybrid apps
  4. Responsively designed web sites (not really an app, but close enough)

In the following posts, I will describe each type of app, give examples, and mention pros and cons. I’m not partial to any one type ~ they each have their own advantages (and disadvantages) for travel applications, which is, by the way, the word from which “app” is derived. But let me start by preparing you for battle, because you are entering into a war zone.