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Why regional destination apps are more important than ever before

The pandemic crisis and lockdowns worldwide are leading to a heavy increase in the number of visitors in some places as holidays abroad are not an option in most countries at the moment. Within weeks, the well-known hotspots of the touristic regions, which had already reached their limits on sunny weekends and holidays in the past, are proving to be overpopulated on a regular base now.

Simultaneously, the volume of day-tourists from the nearby regions rose to unheard of levels as these were some of the only remaining options for those looking for recreational activities in times when almost all of the alternatives were closed (swimming pools, museums, restaurants, etc.).

To make it clear to the masses of visitors: Action is required

As a result, the pandemic crisis has, within a very short period of time, made it very clear to all those responsible that there is a need for action. Visitor flow needs to be recorded and controlled, ideally in real time. Effective countermeasures are needed to prevent overcrowding and to cope with the onslaught of visitors.

“Personally I do not think that strict bans, high parking costs or increased surveillance and complete closure can represent a sustainable solution. Rather, all parties involved must find ways to redistribute visitors in such a way as to create a new and better distributed value chain.” – Kilian Müller, Head of Mobile at Outdooractive.

Additionally, an enormous increase in day tourists can have a very negative effect on the image of a region overall. With many overnight guests more likely to perceive this as a rather deterrent signal.

Introduce sustainable countermeasures – collect the necessary data

The need for action is not a new discovery – it has merely been drastically highlighted. In order to initiate sustainable countermeasures, it is first necessary to collect data.

There are some valid ways to collect the necessary data, such as to evaluate movement data of visitors via mobile operators, Google Maps or through tourist cards that have been in use for many years already. Another relevant method of gaining data is the provision of a regional, well-maintained app for marketing purposes as a valuable tool for the anonymous collection of data as well as for the redistribution and control of visitor flows. Regional apps, which have been in use for years already in some destinations, are gaining a new importance that had sometimes never been considered before as such a valuable and valid instrument.

Regional Destination Apps are both: a valid instrument for destinations and added value to the visitors

In addition to data collection, setting priorities and managing visitor flows, there’s also considerable added value for the guest and the host region when using an App:

Providing perfectly maintained content, appropriate to the season, aligned with the marketing strategy of the destination and ideally with the interests of the visitors, can be a great opportunity. Guests who make use of such tools present a valuable opportunity for the anonymous collection of data – usually in real time. The exact knowledge of what activities visitors are doing, or when and where they are present within a particular region is a key factor for influencing and controlling visitor flow.

Equipped with a multitude of tools and resources

Regional apps come packed with a variety of tools to help guests explore the surroundings and find their way – in planning stage, during their stay and finally through the sharing of experiences.

The anonymized, server-side evaluation of data from track recording, route planning, the creation of lists, as well as the preferred activities provide a valuable basis for adapting one’s own tourism infrastructure and aligning it with the corresponding strategic goals of a destination.

Playful elements such as Challenges and high-quality multimedia tours also offer an excellent opportunity to balance the flows. Some tools even provide lead generating opportunities and the ability to communicate with your own guests – if you observe the necessary legal requirements for establishing contact (Competition registrations, etc.). Challenges

High-quality maps, which are also available for offline use in regions with poor network coverage, and tools such as emergency calls enable visitors to stay in the region safely and without worries. The voice guidance of the route navigation helps users focus on the natural beauty without constantly having to look at the map. Carefully curated content directs them to places and routes that are less crowded and helps them explore your region in a comfortable and safe way.

Buddy Beacon

With Buddy Beacon another safety-oriented feature is available: Share your GPS position with friends and family. Whether it’s for safety reasons (very relevant information for search and rescue teams) or just to have some fun, friends and family can track the progress of guests adventures via their smartphone or PC.

Offer meaningful and sustainable solutions for the distribution of visitor movements

Intelligently prepared content, tailored to the needs of the guest serves a dual benefit: Personalization helps to create the perfect travel guide whilst at the same time helping to redistribute visitors.

Current conditions as well as notices and closures, if maintained reliably and on a daily basis, provide the ability to respond to emergencies in real time and divert the flow of visitors to an area. It also helps visitors take in the current situation and all of the rules that may apply in protected areas right from the start when planning their routes and activities.

Dynamically controllable systems help to direct the attention of visitors to less frequented destinations, for example. Similarly, a benefit system for overnight guests could be used to create an incentive to avoid Hotspots over the weekend in order to balance the flow of visitors and to effectively redistribute day tourists and overnight guests.

Corona has proven that there is a need for action worldwide. Only those who use all the possibilities of data collection will be able to offer meaningful and sustainable solutions for the distribution of visitors in the future. A regional destination app can prove to be a very valuable component for the digital strategy.