A few years ago, a good friend of mine moved to the city of Boston. As good friends do, I went out to visit shortly after the move and got the deluxe tour of one of the oldest cities in the United States. We had an excellent time in Boston, but my friend was still figuring out much of the city herself. Thus, there was a lot we missed that first time around.
Even if she had lived there for more than a year, a city as old as Boston has so much history and attractions that it is impossible for one person to know it all. Which brings us to the topic of the day: a City Guide app. Think about it – this is more than a navigation or wayfinding app. It’s a comprehensive digital travel agent, tour guide and historian who knows everything about a city.
When I went to visit my friend, it was the middle of summer. Those of you who live on the west coast like myself may not know that the weather outside of the Golden State is sometimes something other than sunny. For instance, Boston in the height of summer is extremely hot and muggy. Why is this important? Because Boston has this walking tour called The Freedom Trail that takes you to all the wonderful historical places in the city. Notice the emphasis on “walking.”
We started the tour at 11am and by the time we passed the second bar, we decided that a walking tour of the next bar would be a more enjoyable venture. The first issue was we didn’t realize how long the Trail was, and the second was we weren’t prepared for the weather. The third problem (and objectively the worst) was that we had to go to several bars before we could find a suitable one.
The point is that we could have had this problem rectified with a great City Guide App. Navigation tech is exceptionally accurate these days and plenty of tools exist to allow good developers to create top-notch algorithms. These algorithms, along with other development tools, can help create an app that offers a comprehensive Guide package. Let’s go over some ways in which a City Guide app can help users and make their owners rich.
The Travel Agent
The Travel Agency industry is quickly going the way of the brick-and-mortar video rental stores (sorry Blockbuster) but that’s not because people don’t want some guidance on how to have the best trip possible. It’s largely more about a failure to innovate (read about the same mistake being made by the Print Media industry here) than a lack of need for their services.
A digital travel agent can do all the things a real agent can, plus more. Machine learning tactics and other tools can be used to do all sorts of fascinating things:
• Reinforcement learning can be used to teach the app what its user prefers;
• Structured prediction can be used to create an intelligent search function that learns from its user;
• Sentiment analysis and Latent Semantic Analysis can be leveraged to find out what other users are saying about a particular places, tours, shows, and so on;
• An integrated ratings API can provide even more detailed information about what people think of a location or event;
• A calendar API can be used to create a schedule so users can create a timeline – though for more adventurous travelers, it may be just vague guidelines;
• A weather API integration can help keep users up-to-date on the expected weather on their vacation, by hour, day, or week.
• Finally, a good City Guide App should be integrated with a top-notch Ticket booking API or App. That way users can purchase tickets for travel, tour, show, event, and so on, all within your City Guide app. Even better – include a hotel booking API and a user will never need to leave your app.
The Tour Guide
A great first feature to offer users is the ability to create a navigable guide. Ideally, the wayfinding technology could help users create a map of the daily tours, providing options for walking, public transportation, driving, or simply keeping track in real time. The map should run in real-time, showing the user their current location and their route to their end location.
Even if a user isn’t actively using the navigation feature, the app should keep track of the user’s location. This way, a user can easily see where they are in relation to where they need to be. When integrated with an easy click button redirecting users to a Rideshare API, this becomes a great feature for those times we all get lost in a new city.
An app isn’t limited by memory capacity. It can search and retrieve hundreds of gigabytes of information in the space of seconds. When combined with navigation software, a City Guide app can provide visual or auditory tours based on a user’s physical location. Obviously, this connects to the “Historian” part of a City Guide App, but can also be about anything unique about a location – i.e. known for its seafood restaurants.
You can even leverage the wayfinding software to create a city tour based on your location. Want to know the best bars within 15 minutes walking distance? Well, here’s a list, with links to the bar websites or apps for direct contact.
Sounds pretty awesome right? What would make it cooler? The ability to track your friends on the map as well, making it easier to find that one friend who always manages to wander off on their own. Adding in a messaging API like Twilio would enable users to speak to their lost friend with a simple click of a button – an even better feature.
No living person can know all the published information about every special spot in Boston. And Boston was founded in 1630 – can you imagine how much information about cities in Asia, Africa, Europe (and even parts of the Americas) that have a history stretching back a thousand years or more into the past.
Of course, this shouldn’t be limited by location. Users should be able to search for and find various historical locations simply via a search feature. The search should link users to relevant information (with an read-aloud feature, if possible) as well as to relevant sites.
Users should also be able to construct a historical tour based upon their particular interests. With the above mentioned Twilio integration, user can even share cool details with their travel buddies. Finally, the ability to use the map to provide historical information based upon someone’s location would be perfect for the history nerds out there.
The best way to monetize this app is not to charge the end users. The best way would be to approach cities themselves, selling your app as a mechanism to drive tourism. A subscription-based model would be perfect for this project and make the app owner a ton of money.
Another path to monetization lies in the business you could push to restaurants, bars, events, museums, historical locations and et cetera. You could offer advanced features to local businesses such as push notifications to users based upon their location. In other words, if I’m using the app and I walk near a vendor, iBeacon technology can be used to inform me that the vendor has a sell, or it’s happy hour.
Obviously there are many paths to monetization, but if you’d like to pick our brain more, you’re going to have to call our chief marketing strategist at 408.802.2885 for a free consultation. Or if you prefer email, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org