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Pursuing sustainable tourism and dispersing crowds with AI-driven itinerary apps

The charm of popular tourist spots is often dimmed by overcrowding. Now more than ever, sustainable tourism practices in destinations are imperative to conserve the environment, support local communities, and ensure a quality visitor experience. Therefore, there's a need to rethink how tourist flows are managed to maintain a destination's appeal without succumbing to the adverse effects of too many visitors. One promising approach is the adoption and use of digital travel guide apps and itinerary apps to spread tourists more evenly across different times and locations.

This blog explores how AI-driven digital travel guides and itinerary apps, could reduce the burden on popular tourist hotspots and highlight lesser-known areas, aligning with sustainability goals by preventing overcrowding in tourism and promoting a balanced distribution of tourists.

Visitor enjoying digital audio guide

How could AI itinerary apps contribute to sustainable tourism efforts?

Itinerary apps hold the potential to significantly contribute to the efforts of sustainable tourism by leveraging technology to address the environmental, economic, and even socio-cultural challenges of overcrowding in tourism hotspots. Here is how:

  1. Personalized recommendations for enhanced visitor encounters

Itinerary apps can provide personalized suggestions like Netflix and Spotify. A prime example of this innovation is the SmartGuide digital audio guide platform, which already provides personalized recommendations through its travel guide app. This service is powered by a SmartGuide-trained AI model that utilizes neural networks to understand the content and match activities and points of interest (POI) with the unique preferences of each traveler, effectively creating a bespoke guide accessible directly from every traveler's phone. By offering autogenerated built-in recommendations tailored to individual tastes, SmartGuide aids in redirecting visitors away from overcrowded sites towards less explored destinations.

SmartGuide's AI personalized recommendations

         Personalized recommendations on SmartGuide digital audio guide app

Building on this foundation of personalized guidance, SmartGuide is set to take its services to the next level by developing its ChatGPT4-based itinerary chatbot. This upcoming feature will generate more finely-tuned routes and itineraries for each app user, based on their specific interests and interactions.

  1. Employing data analytics for insightful crowd management

Itinerary apps could incorporate data analytics for a deeper understanding of tourist behavior and preferences, which is essential for effective crowd management. SmartGuide exemplifies how data analytics can be utilized within these apps. Through SmartGuide's aggregated GDPR-compliant big data insights, destinations, attractions, and tourism businesses are equipped with advanced tools to collect and analyze information on visitor movement comprehensively.

This provides destinations with detailed quantitative data dashboards, highlighting visitors' origins, demographics, language preferences, and favorite sites. This wealth of information is key in painting a clear picture of the current tourism landscape and making further decisions.

Furthermore, the application of heatmaps supplements this analysis by offering a qualitative perspective. These heatmaps vividly display the engagement levels of visitors across different areas of a destination at various times. They shed light on the success of specific tours in guiding tourists away from high-traffic spots, seasonal changes in visitor interest, and exploration patterns of different nationalities.

This combined analytical approach enables destination management to gain invaluable insights into tourist behaviors and trends.

SmartGuide's big data analytics

                            SmartGuide's big data analytics  - Dashboards and heatmaps

  1. Diverting tourist flows with multi-lingual and self-guided tours

Itinerary apps could offer personalized self-guided and multilingual audio tours and this functionality plays a crucial role in diverting tourists from hotspots to less-visited areas. By providing engaging content in multiple languages, these apps ensure accessibility for a diverse global audience, encouraging exploration beyond the typical tourist trails. Additionally, self-guided tours inherently promote sustainability by eliminating the necessity to travel in large, crowded groups. This flexibility allows visitors to explore destinations outside of peak hours and at their own pace, reducing the ecological and community impact on over-visited areas.

Case studies -  SmartGuide's impact on global destinations

The success stories of different destinations underscore the capability of SmartGuide to divert tourist traffic from congested sites to uncharted territories

For example, using the SmartGuide platform, Prague has changed its visitor experience with digitized guides and personalized recommendations. These guides encouraged app users to dedicate 30% of their time to exploring lesser-known areas by introducing compelling narratives about these places. This strategy not only increased visitor engagement but also supported sustainable tourism efforts by distributing tourist traffic more evenly throughout the city.

GPS heatmap of SmartGuide digital audio guide

Prague inspired 30% of tourists out of the crowded center with SmartGuide app

Similarly, Pilsen launched tours and provided information in various languages through SmartGuide, targeting the elimination of language obstacles that commonly restricted non-Czech-speaking visitors to well-known sites. By offering guide content in languages such as German or Italian, Pilsen facilitated a broader exploration for tourists from different backgrounds, enabling them to engage with the city’s more hidden spots aside from the famous Pilsner Urquell brewery.

GPS heatmaps of SmartGuide digital audio guide

        Tours and content provided in popular foreign languages help disperse visitors from the city’s hotspot

These destinations are already utilizing SmartGuide, illustrating how the dedicated content of this tour guide solution effectively redirects visitors away from bustling places. This impact is anticipated to intensify, thanks to the itinerary chatbot planned in SmartGuide, which will offer content and routes fully personalized to each visitor's preferences based on a conversation, further improving the distribution of tourist flows away from hotspots.

Benefits of itinerary apps for tourism professionals and destination managers

One of the key benefits of itinerary apps and digital travel guides is an increase in visitor satisfaction, as these digital tools provide tourists with personalized and flexible plans tailored to their interests, thereby improving their overall trip experience. Additionally, by promoting lesser-known attractions, itinerary apps could improve the destination's image, showcasing its diversity beyond the popular sites. This not only alleviates pressure on over-visited landmarks but also contributes to more efficient resource management by dispersing visitors across different areas.

Furthermore, these digital platforms play an important role in strategic planning and marketing for destinations aiming to harmonize tourism growth with environmental and cultural sustainability. The insights gained from user data, such as preferences and behavior patterns, enable destination managers to distribute tourist traffic effectively. This ensures a balanced exploration of the area's attractions, mitigating the effects of crowd influx.

For example, insights from heatmap data can reveal which locations might benefit from enhanced content or need information in additional languages to draw a wider audience. By adopting a targeted approach based on these insights, destinations can broaden visitor engagement through diversified exploration options and strive towards a sustainable model of tourism that protects the uniqueness of each destination.

Implementing itinerary apps in destination management and overcoming challenges and limitations

The integration of itinerary apps and digital travel guides into destination management strategies will become significant for tourism professionals. However, the adoption of these technologies does not come without challenges such as:

  1. App development costs and technical complexities

Building a custom app from scratch can be a daunting task due to high development costs and the technical intricacies involved. Limited resources may result in apps that fall short of user expectations, offering minimal value and poor user engagement. The necessity to manage offline access, and visitors' analytics, and ensure a seamless user experience demands substantial investment and expertise.

  1. Dedication to management and support

Continuous management and responsive customer support are vital for the success of an app. This requires a committed team for regular updates and troubleshooting, which adds to the operational costs.

  1. Extensive marketing efforts

A strategic marketing plan is essential to make an app visible to its target audience. Without effective promotion, even the most well-designed app risks being overlooked in a saturated market.

  1. Regular maintenance and updates

To stay relevant and functional on all devices, apps need to be regularly updated. Neglecting this aspect can lead to technical issues, diminishing the app's quality and user satisfaction.

  1. Overcoming app overload

With users hesitant to download multiple apps for different destinations, overcoming 'app fatigue' is a great challenge. Tourists often prefer using established global platforms, making it difficult for new apps to gain traction.

issues with app development

                      The app development requires significant time and resources

The above-mentioned issues underscore why the tourism industry is shifting away from digital app development and adopting ready-made platforms like SmartGuide.

It offers the following benefits:

  1. Reliable global cloud-based technology

SmartGuide’s data is stored securely 24/7 on the AWS cloud, ensuring data is globally available at fast speeds and 99.99% uptime. This cloud-based approach also provides unlimited scalability, accommodating rapid growth in the tourism sector

  1. Full app maintenance and automatic updates

All app maintenance and updates are handled by SmartGuide, ensuring compatibility with the most recent changes in Android and iOS systems. This means users receive updates automatically, maintaining optimal app performance.

It's important to highlight that the Google Play Store gives preference to apps that support the latest operating system versions. The platform mandates that all applications adhere to the newest safety and quality guidelines specified for Android. Neglecting app updates can lead to significant drawbacks such as reduced visibility or even complete absence from the store, leading to potential revenue loss. Therefore, staying current with Google Play Store's update requirements is crucial, especially for apps running on the latest device versions.

  1. Customer support and data protection

SmartGuide assigns a dedicated account manager for each B2B client. This single point of contact establishes smooth communication and prompt resolution of any issues, exemplifying its commitment to providing the best customer support.

  1. Marketing support tools

For expanded tourism marketing, SmartGuide goes beyond being just an audio travel guide platform and provides tools like dedicated smart links, QR codes, website widgets, or poster templates. This helps improve the visibility of the digital guide app for visitors, contributing to effective tourism destination management.

  1. Simple content preparation

In SmartGuide’s Content Management System, content creators such as destination management organizations (DMOs), attractions, tourism businesses, and travel guides can create professional digital guides within hours without any IT development. With its straightforward web editor, smart route generation, automatic TTS audio, easy DeepL translations, and quick content updates, content preparation becomes effortless. Content creators can publish a guide themselves entirely for free or have SmartGuide experts craft content for them.

Content creation at SmartGuide digital audio guide content management system

                                    Content creation on SmartGuide's content management system

Adopt itinerary apps to promote sustainable tourism for your visitors

The integration of advanced itinerary apps into destination management strategies presents an excellent opportunity for enhancing visitor experiences while promoting sustainable tourism practices. By enabling personalized exploration and spreading tourist activity across hidden gems, these digital tools help reduce overcrowding in tourism and ensure a more equitable distribution of tourism benefits.

For tourism professionals looking to address sustainability and crowd management effectively, investing in technology such as the SmartGuide digital audio guide platform is a forward-thinking move. This approach not only uplifts the quality of the visitors’ journey but also aligns with broader goals of environmental and cultural preservation.

Are you ready to adopt itinerary apps to promote sustainable tourism for your visitors?