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New travel app to enable direct marketing to tourists

Businesses will now be able to market directly to tourists in real time, thanks to a new app launching in New Zealand this week.

The app, Skoot, is designed to help tourism operators reach visitors while en route to local attractions.

The technology, which was developed by Auckland company Skoot - a joint venture between JUCY, Tourism Radio and Putti - a Spark Ventures company, will allow businesses to market directly to tourists planning the next stage of their itinerary.

Tourists can download Skoot as a smartphone app or use it when mounted in their rental vehicle. The app has a range of functions including onboard GPS navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot, safety messages and details on local activities and accommodation options, all supplied in real time as the user draws near to their destination.

The app also allows travellers to make purchases on a stored credit card on their own smartphone.

Skoot CEO Hayden Braddock says the app is also equipped with a built-in audio tour guide, which recognises the user’s location and broadcasts information on over 1600 local tourist attractions automatically.

“Throughout their journey, Skoot is designed to keep tourists engaged with both local information and relevant promotions - served by audio and digital display feeds,” says Braddock.

He says there has already been significant interest in the new technology, which has more than 600 businesses already a part of the Skoot eco-system.

“Each business on Skoot will effectively have control over their own application which is able to be accessed and used within the Skoot application or on its own in the APP Store,” Braddock says.

The retailer gets the benefit of being able to create and manage their own app and content in real time, update deals, products, info, and branding.

“Tourists will only have to download the one app when they travel around,” he says. “We believe this is first time this has been done.”

Braddock says that when installed in a rental vehicle, the device will be connected over its nationwide 4G network and allows up to five other devices to use the Wi-Fi hotspot.

In the future the app will also offer a click-to-call function using VoIP where tourists can free-call local attractions to book.

“Tourists are also able to redeem digital vouchers which appear as they close in on local attractions and purchase their tickets at discounted rates using a preloaded credit card,” says Braddock.

In a recent trial, the Skoot app was uploaded to Samsung tablets that were installed in the JUCY fleet.

Braddock says the new app is also designed to help improve tourism road safety with a unique set of features to help visitors navigate New Zealand roads and conditions.

“The app is able to alert drivers to a range of potential hazards including upcoming one way bridges, high crash areas and periodically issues audio reminders for them to keep left or slow down when they are driving over the speed limit,” he explains.

Braddock says based on the success of the JUCY trial, Skoot will now be installed in their entire fleet; over 3000 rental vehicles across New Zealand, Australia and U.S.

Braddock says future generations of the device will offer more benefits to their business partners.

“We’re currently working on a new payment method which will incentivise visitors to make purchases at promotional rates and fast track their entry into attractions,” he explains.

“The app will also be multi-lingual, and even offer fleet management features for improving vehicle efficiency and driver safety,” says Braddock.

Businesses will be able to vary their offers based on a range of variables such as seasonal factors, proximity to the attraction, the direction the traveller is moving, and even serve deals based on specific tourist demographics.

“The aggregated user data collected over time can also be analysed to provide insights into tourist behaviour - we will understand details of the psychographics of visitors including where they travel, what route they take and what they buy when they get there,” says Braddock.

“This information will help inform Skoot partners, allowing them to improve their business model when targeting existing and emerging tourist segments,” he adds.