The mobile internet has enabled the vast compendium of human knowledge to be in communion with you through various devices. The knowledge is most useful through small programs called apps, short for applications. Apps can be very simple programs that just display information or intuitive ones that process information (think) in order to give us the information we desire. An example of a thinking app is one that uses your GPS location to provide local information for our search of all nearby public restrooms (search Sit or Squat). Thinking apps are getting smarter every day. There are already apps that will tell you all about the name and composer of a song just by listening to the song being played, or all about the history of a building just by taking a photo of the building. The possibilities are endless and are only just becoming available.
The mobile internet has changed the value of information, our most precious commodity. Our clients can now research more about our commentary while we deliver it. They have access to the most current information possible. This makes it all the more important that we know everything about everything. At bare minimum, we should equip ourselves with the same technological capabilities as our clients and understand how they are getting information. We should do this in order to better serve our clients with tips on how to find the most credible source of information as well as demonstrate to them that we are still, as their guide, a step ahead of them.
Some of the biggest concerns we have as professionals is how the mobile internet will affect our jobs. Does the free flow of information enable more people to travel away from the safety of packaged group travel, or does it inspire more people to travel and take a group tour. Also, how can we make money from the mobile internet? If we are the traditional gatekeepers of knowledge and apps are just an electronic medium for transmitting information, should not we be creating apps too. Well, yes. If you do not, then other people will. Our information is not difficult to understand and so even non-professionals can be called upon to provide site information for travel apps. The appeal of a virtual Tour Guide, who knows where I am, and delivers all sorts of information about the sites I am seeing as I walk about, is very appealing. Now consider that this virtual guide is available 24/7 for just a couple of dollars. Do you want to compete with this trend or benefit from it?
There is another aspect to free information which is much more personal. Have you ever goggled yourself? There are probably tons of snippets or professional reviews about you already out there. Are you in control of your online image? Does your Tour Company post customer reviews and do you have a veto over the postings of their customers about you? Are you associated with photos through meta tags? Have you reviewed the privacy changes to your Facebook account? There are many things that you can do to take control over your online image. Remember, once it is out there, it is out there forever. Your best strategy then becomes one of containment and positive subjugation.
Since customers are searching about you prior to the tour, just as they do for the hotel, restaurants and local information, you are best poised to post the information that you want them to know about you. Take control of their expectations and your tour will run more smoothly. Tour Companies are also searching about you so keep all public information professional. Believe it or not, we are famous. Our fame lies in the photos and memories of the thousands of passengers we have and will guide throughout the world.
This article covers some of the main topics from my speech at the World Guide Summit. You can learn more about all the topics of this article by viewing my PowerPoint presentation and viewing the video of my presentation. I intend to make this available to all members of IATM Americas. This will be my parting gift of valuable knowledge to you all and made available on www.WorldGuideSummit.com
Scott Mac Scott CTM