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From local insights to global success - The business benefits of a self guided tour app

Why are more travelers opting for self-guided tours over traditional group tours? The answer lies in the freedom and control that self-guided tours offer, allowing tourists to explore at their own pace and according to their interests. Self-guided tour apps are meeting this demand by providing curated local insights to destination managers and enhancing the way tourists explore new destinations. One leading example is SmartGuide, a digital audio guide platform, helping drive business growth and expand the reach of destination and tourist attractions globally. Let's see why integrating self-guided tour apps into your strategy can be a smart move.

Tourist listening to self-guided tour app

The rise of self-guided tour apps

Advancements in technology have significantly converted the traditional guided tour into an app-based experience. Modern travel guide apps offer numerous features that provide an engaging way to interact with destinations, making it easier for tourists to access valuable information and navigate unfamiliar places.

Tourists these days are increasingly seeking convenience, flexibility, and personalization in their travels. These apps cater to these preferences by offering routes customized for various audiences, on-demand information, and insider tips. This shift in tourist behavior is evident in the growing market for tour apps. According to Statista, the global market size for mobile travel applications was valued at approximately $1.29 billion in 2020, and it is projected to reach $3.2 billion by 2026. The still increasing adoption of self-guided tour apps and mobile apps in general highlights their importance in the travel industry, providing essential tools for both travelers and travel businesses worldwide.

rise of self-guided tour app

What are the core attributes of a successful self-guided tour app from a user's perspective?

To stand out in a competitive market, these apps must offer features that improve usability and meet the diverse needs of travelers. Here are some core elements that contribute to a successful guided tour app from the viewpoint of the app users:

User-friendly interface

A user-friendly interface is important for both destinations and tourist attractions because it ensures that travelers can easily navigate the app without frustration. An intuitive design helps tourists quickly find information, plan their visits, and make the most of their time. A prime example of this is SmartGuide which has recently updated its interface to include new map layers, showcasing relevant facilities such as public restrooms and drinking water fountains. These additions are highly appreciated by travelers, as they provide practical information that enhances the overall travel experience.

Offline access

The ability to access information offline is a significant benefit, especially for travelers who may not always have internet connectivity. By allowing users to download guides and maps, digital guide apps make certain that tourists can access essential information anytime, anywhere. This feature is particularly useful in remote areas or foreign countries where data roaming charges might be high.

Multilingual support

Catering to a global audience requires offering multilingual support within the app. Providing content in multiple languages makes sure that tourists from different parts of the world can fully understand and enjoy the information provided. This inclusivity broadens the app's appeal and makes it accessible to a wider range of users.

Interactive maps and GPS navigation

Interactive maps and GPS navigation are helping tourists explore destinations with ease by providing real-time directions and highlighting points of interest as you approach them. Additionally, they increase safety by offering reliable navigation, especially in unfamiliar areas. Using self-guided tour app like SmartGuide is literally like wandering around with an invisible guide telling you interesting stories as you walk.

Personalized content

Offering tailored content based on user preferences and interests adds significant value to a guided tour app. Similar to how Netflix and Spotify provide customized suggestions, SmartGuide is world's first self-guided tour app that uses an in-house-trained AI model to deliver personalized recommendations. This approach creates a personalized guide on every traveler’s phone, helping distribute tourists more evenly across popular and lesser-known spots. By categorizing activities and places of interest through neural networks, this digital travel guide matches recommendations to individual traveler profiles.

Building on this foundation, SmartGuide is also developing a ChatGPT-4-based itinerary chatbot integration that will further refine route and itinerary suggestions.

Personalized recommendations by SmartGuide digital audio guide

                      Personalized recommendations in SmartGuide app

Business benefits of self-guided tour apps

Self-guided tour apps offer numerous advantages for businesses in the travel and tourism industry. Here is how:

Sparking positive feedback and word-of-mouth marketing

Tailoring content to tourists' individual preferences and pace, each visitor finds content that resonates with them, turning their exploration into a series of memorable moments. As a result, explorers are more likely to share positive reviews and recommendations. This stream of positive feedback and repeat visits serves as a powerful word-of-mouth marketing channel, generating enthusiasm and endorsements that attract new visitors and boost the destination's appeal.

Increased revenue streams

Travel businesses can generate additional revenue through in-app purchases, subscription models, premium content, and partnerships. Offering exclusive tours, multimedia content, or special product deals within the app encourages users to spend more. Additionally, partnerships with local businesses can create mutually beneficial opportunities.

Brand differentiation

Offering a self-guided tour app can set a travel business apart from competitors. By integrating advanced features like augmented reality, AI-driven recommendations, custom quizzes, surveys, games, etc. travel businesses and destinations can provide unique value propositions that attract modern individual travelers. This differentiation helps build brand loyalty and strengthens market positioning.

Data collection and insights

Gathering aggregated anonymized data on tourist behavior and preferences is a major advantage of digital audio guides. SmartGuide's big data insights change how destinations can analyze and interpret information about visitor preferences and movement. Destinations can receive valuable findings through dashboards, covering aspects such as visitors' origins, demographics, language preferences, or the most favored sites. These insights are critical for understanding the current tourist landscape.

Additionally, the use of heatmaps offers a qualitative analysis, vividly showcasing where and when visitors engage most actively with a destination. Heatmaps reveal the effectiveness of specific tours in distributing visitors away from hotspots, the seasonal variances in visitor interest, and how different nationalities explore a destination. This dual approach provides a detailed picture of tourist behaviors and trends.

SmartGuide's big data analytics

                  SmartGuide's big data analytics - Data dashboards and GPS heatmaps

Scalability and reach

Travel guide apps allow local businesses to reach a global audience efficiently. With options such as integrated machine translation and automated TTS that facilitate content localization, these apps cater to international tourists, broadening the potential customer base. This scalability means that even small local businesses can attract visitors from around the world, promoting their market presence and revenue prospects.

How to implement a self-guided tour app in your destination or travel business?

Here are some key considerations for the successful implementation of a self-guided tour app:

  1. Choosing the right platform

Developing a self-guided tour app from scratch comes with numerous challenges, such as high development costs, technical complexities, the need for dedicated management and support, extensive marketing requirements, long-term maintenance issues, and the problem of app overload. Instead of developing an app from scratch, consider using a platform like SmartGuide, which offers a comprehensive, user-intuitive, and AI-powered Content Management System (CMS) for digital guide creation. With SmartGuide, there's no need to worry about IT maintenance, operations, or updates; it handles all aspects to ensure continuous compliance with Google Play Store and iOS requirements. You can easily create a guide within an hour using the SmartGuide CMS, which is free to use. Additionally, SmartGuide professionals are available to assist with guide creation if needed or to help you prepare content turn-key.

Content creation at SmartGuide digital audio guide content management system

                                   Content creation at SmartGuide's content management system

  1. Content creation and curation

Creating compelling and informative content is key to engaging users. Focus on providing accurate information, interactive elements, and visually appealing media such as images and videos, or augmented reality elements. Your content should cover important points of interest, historical facts, and local anecdotes. Most importantly, customize the content to meet the preferences and needs of your target audience, making it both educational and enjoyable.

  1. Marketing and promotion

Promoting your digital guide is essential to attract tourists and encourage downloads. SmartGuide, for example, provides marketing and promotional materials to help you get started. Utilize QR codes and NFC tags as acquisition points, placing them in visible locations to capture visitors' attention. These acquisition points are important for driving app downloads and increasing user engagement. Furthermore, thanks to tracking parameters in QR codes and NFC tags, SmartGuide helps you to analyze effective marketing channels to reach a broader audience and integrate these strategies into your overall marketing plan.

  1. Regular updates on user feedback

Gathering user feedback is a key to continuous improvement. Encourage the digital guide app users to leave reviews and share their experiences within the app. Regularly update your content based on this feedback to address any issues because with continuous refinement content remains relevant and valuable to its users.

Are you ready to take your travel business to the next level?

Adopting a self-guided tour app offers numerous business benefits, including enhanced visitor engagement, additional revenue streams, and valuable data insights. Tourism businesses and destinations are encouraged to explore and integrate guided tour apps like SmartGuide to improve their offerings and achieve global success. As the tourism industry evolves, self-guided tour apps will play a major role in shaping visitor encounters and driving business growth.

Would you learn more about how to integrate a self-guided tour app to your offerings?