When it comes to travel and tourism, the best apps have a few specific things in common. They take visitors deeper into the local experience, offer contextual information, and help ensure that visitors have a great time.
Cultural site organizations can offer their own apps to improve the visitor experience. And tour guide companies can create apps to offer a digital tour experience for a low fee. This can be in addition to in-person guided tours for an extra source of revenue, or tourism apps can be offered as a stand-alone business.
Below we explore the best features of apps for tourists and visitors.
1. Enrich real-life experiences
The best apps use technology as a way to improve a real-life travel experience. These apps provide additional context and information. For example, if someone is at a historical battle site, an app might offer details into the date of the battle, key figures, and how that battle affected the outcomes of that war.
Here are some examples of organizations that have launched their own app with STQRY:
2. User friendly and easy to navigate
Apps should be easy for users to understand and use. The best apps are clear and uncluttered, with a simple menu, crisp images and icons, and plenty of whitespace around text. At STQRY, we recommend that companies keep their apps to no more than 5 items in the menu navigation. This might be something like Tickets, Tours, Information, and Settings.
3. Well-organized tours
People come to tour companies because they want some of the hard work of organizing their sight-seeing done for them. They want a curated experience. A tourism app should provide this as well.
Depending on your company or organization’s needs, you might create several different tours in one app, or you might launch a separate app for different tours. For example, a historical society might offer several different tours of its properties within one free app for paying visitors. Meanwhile, a tour guide company might launch several different apps each with one large tour (such as a winery tour versus a brewery tour) and then charge a fee for each app.
However you decide to separate and launch your tour experiences, what matters most is that each tour experience is curated and valuable. Consider the most interesting 7 to 15 stops along the tour. For smaller spaces, a stop could be a sculpture or a room. While for a city-wide tour, a stop might be a restaurant or a park.
4. Storytelling with multimedia content
Travelers don’t just want contextual details. They want stories. Stories are not only more interesting and engaging, but storytelling also helps with learning and retention.
And the best way to tell stories for a tourism app is through audio content. While video content might be great for entertainment apps, it’s unrealistic for most tourism apps. Your users might be driving or walking around, so audio content makes more sense if the app is intended to be used during a tour or visit.
For each stop on your tour, plan on making an audio track that is 2 to 5 minutes long. If it is a driving tour where the stops are spread out, you can make the tracks much longer so that users can listen while they drive.
Hire a voice actor or choose someone on your team who can deliver the content in an engaging way. Depending on the stories you’re telling, you might even need multiple voice actors to play different roles. You can also add in occasional background noises or audio effects to make the story come to life. However, if the tour will happen in a noisy area (a busy city street), you might want to keep the audio cleaner than you would if it were for a more remote location.
5. Geo-triggered content for a seamless experience
Successful tourism apps use geo-location technology to automatically recommend app content. For example, let’s say that you made a tour app for China Town in San Francisco. When someone walks past the Dragon’s Gate entrance to China Town, they can receive a notification to their phone inviting them to play that content.
You can also use this technology to setup autoplay, which is great for guided walking or driving tours.
With STQRY, you can create location-based content in two different ways: 1) geo-fencing, which you can setup remotely without even having to be present on site, or 2) bluetooth beacons, which need to be physically attached to something and are best for short distances.
6. Multilanguage and accessible content
Tourism apps should also increase the accessibility of your content. After all, you might not always have a tour guide on staff who can provide a tour in American Sign Language, or Spanish, or another language commonly used by your visitors. With a tour app, you can invest in multi language content once and it will continue to be available. Have your content translated into the most popular languages for your area. With STQRY, users can select their language right when they open your app, and then all of the experiences will be in that language.
And to improve accessibility, make sure that you offer both text and audio content in your key languages.
7. Links and information on nearby attractions
A travel app should be useful. Consider the experience that your visitors want to have before, during, and after your tour. Create an information page with these details. For example, you might encourage visitors to bring a poncho on a hiking tour of a waterfall. Or for a city district, you might include information about the top-rated restaurants across a variety of price points.
And if you sell memberships or t-shirts or take donations, you can also embed payment widgets for your own business or organization.
Creating a great app requires great content. Use an app builder so that you can focus 100% on the content creation and not have to worry about the technology.