This is the fifth and final of the series called “Invasion of The Things: How to Prepare Your Tourist Location for the Coming Mobile Apocalypse,” where I cover:

  • How the things that make up your tourist location, like statues and historical buildings, can “talk” to modern mobile devices
  • Four technologies you can use today, and their pros and cons
  • One way overzealous marketers use technology to ruin your tourism brand
  • Where a seismic shift in how you interact with mobile tourists is coming from, and how Google is investing heavily to make it happen
  • Five things you need to do NOW to prepare for the invasion…of the Things

In case you have yet to read any of the prior four parts, here is a quick summary:

In Part One we learned there are four technologies that can make “dumb” (as in, non-communicative) things talk to mobile phones.

In Part Two we learned how two dumb technologies, the QR code and NFC tags, when properly applied, can be very useful and make you look very smart.

In Part Three we learned how our nemesis Google plans to take over the world with something called the Physical Web. Or will they? Muhahaha!

In Part Four we learned when and how to use geo-tagging as a way of making your things talk.

Now, in Part Five, we wrap up by answering the question: Can single purpose purpose mobile apps survive the Invasion of the Things?


Can they survive?

The short answer is “yes,” and I think beautifully. But like all life forms, they must evolve to survive, especially considering how quickly the tourism environment is changing. The browser-based Universal Mobile Interface (UMI), whether enabled by beacon or geo-tagging, is a massive shift in how mobile tourism content will be delivered and consumed. This shift is why Scott Jenson, Google’s guru of the Physical Web, predicts “The zombie apocalypse of smart devices is coming” and why he writes blog posts like “Mobile Apps Must Die.” He was ahead of his time when he wrote those posts in 2011, but Google’s time is coming now like a freight train, especially for tourism apps.

Consider this statistic: The average smartphone user has downloaded more than 86 apps but only uses 26.In other words, when users download your app, it has a 70 percent chance of being abandoned. Will your single purpose app make the cut? Do you really think every tourist is going to stop in front of your statue, historic building, museum, or knick-knack shop, and download an app before hearing the thing’s story? Not a chance. Tourists will stop, make a quick query, be instantly gratified, and move on to the next point of interest (or not). They will tend to snack on your content but not make a whole meal of it at one time. We already see this behavior with millennials, and they are the next wave of your business.

Content Snacking

Content snacking is an example of a phenomenon in consumer behavior that I call the “Twitterfercation of Experience,” or as Google more elegantly calls it, the “Micro-moment.” Micro-moments are how “modern consumers fracture the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments.” Modern consumers don’t have time to read the whole book anymore ~ not even the Cliff Notes. There is just too much inbound information. So we want technology to help us consume a spoonful of just the right information, at just the right time and place, in order to optimize our experience. That is a micro-moment.

The micro-moments phenomenon explains the popularity of Twitter and any other system that abbreviates information down to an omnipresent headline and then allows the consumer to immediately dig in for more if and when they want. Google puts it this way: To win with micro-moments, you’ve got to:

Be There. You’ve got to anticipate the micro-moments for users in your industry and then commit to being there to help when those moments occur.

Be Useful. You’ve got to be relevant to consumers’ needs in the moment and connect people to the answers they’re looking for.

Be Quick. They’re called micro-moments for a reason. Mobile users want to know, go, and buy swiftly. Your mobile experience has to be fast and frictionless.

The Fat App

For the single-purpose mobile tourism app to survive, with its relatively heavy weight compared to the super-skinny micro-moment, it must evolve into something better than brochureware, with a value that far outweighs the pain of downloading the fat app, learning it, and spending an hour or more consuming it. The evolved app must:

  • Astound and entertain in a series of micro-moments. That likely means involving Augmented Reality (AR), which one of the technologies driving Pokemon Go’s tremendous popularity.
  • Perform bespoke filtering better than a browser and the PhyWeb ever can.
  • Offer compelling upsell opportunities for merchandise and expanded experiences, using in-app purchases, cross-marketing and other techniques.
  • Give the user control so the tourist is fully engaged in their tourism experience, influencing its outcome, and interacting with their friends and their environment. Make the app an activity (lean forward)and not a passivity (lean back).
  • Ensure stellar security. Hackers are already gleefully using the relatively loose security of the IoT to perform their dastardly deeds, and you and your guests don’t want to become a victim of that.

A Twinkie in Paris

The evolved mobile tourism app of the future, especially if it involves AR, well that Twinkie isn’t even a Twinkie ~ it’s a luscious wood fired pistachio and tart cherry Danish created by the finest pastry chef in Paris. Most of us are a long way off from knowing how to cook up that delicacy, so let us begin with the five basics of mobile tourism:

  1. Capture the stories of your places in audio;
  2. Translate them into several languages;
  3. Tag them with GPS coordinates and other indices;
  4. Prepare them for use in any mobile playback device; and,
  5. Promote your expanded capability to your visitors.

Doing those five things will put you ahead of most of your competitors and prepare you for the invasion of mobile device carrying tourists.

The apocalypse of smart devices is now! Are you ready?