A German startup has developed a mobile app which helps tourists discover cities in new, more spontaneous ways. The app runs in the background and signals the user when a point of interest is nearby and identifies and describes relevant spots visited. The company pursues a business model, where the cities generate revenue and regain control over the information accessible. It is looking especially for tourism offices of cities with rich tangible cultural heritage for services agreements.
This innovative German startup was founded in 2014. The founder made it through the Founder Institute program of Berlin in summer 2014, was selected for SpeedUp! Europe program 2015. The company consists of cultural tourism lovers that are convinced of the role of Tourism Offices in tourism. For them, travelling and getting to know other cultures enriches ones knowledge and oneself as human. In particular, cultural tourism leads to mutual understanding, respect and tolerance. With that vision the companies' mission is to provide the technology which helps tourists get the best of their visits and help local institutions promote and maintain their city's cultural heritage. The idea to develop an app for cultural tourism was born out of the frustrations described by cultural tourists of which the top mentioned are: - discovering that they have missed interesting spot (>50%) - missing information when a spot is found (80%) In order to solve these problems, the company has developed an app which alerts the user when a point of interest (POI) is nearby and provides information in-situ without a click. Tourists only need the phone in their pockets and while walking around in the city with or without a plan, and when a POI is “around the block”, the app alerts them through vibration, sound or voice. This is especially interesting for discovering secret places which is a growing trend to avoid mainstream touristic paths. Moreover, the app provides information coming directly from the Tourism Office (TO), the one source tourists trust most. Hence, information is neither crowd-sourced (tripadvisor, etc., often poor, partial or just plain wrong) nor fed by commercial "experts" (lonely-planet, etc., who usually haven't even visited the city and stuff in a lot of commercial content). To provide this service, the company partners with the TOs. The company takes care of the technology and operational costs, and the TO keeps control of the information provided and acts as main point of promotion. Instead of charging the TO for the development and service, the company shares part of revenues with it. The design of the app has specific implications for the TO of the visited city: - the app does not compete with other existing materials (like maps or guides), it rather complements them. - the app is a chance for TOs to keep control of the information provided; otherwise global companies with own commercial interests will become the actual “Tourism Office”, deciding what is relevant for the tourist. - the TO does not need to worry about the technical development and the associated costs, but only about what it knows best, it's city's cultural heritage. Since they already have the information about the POI's it's use for the app is quick and easy. The business model is as follows. Tourists pay for the app (price may vary in each city, 3€-5€ per visit). Here the TO plays a key role aigan: on average about 50% of the visitors go to the TO's website and 10% go to the physical office on destination (numbers may differ substantially among different cities). Therefore, the TO is the best point of sales and promotion for the app and for that reason it is fair that it receives part of the revenue, to add up to an usually constrained budget. More detailed information about revenue possibilities can be handed out on request. Moreover, there are additional advantages for the city, through the network of cities that offer the app: - promote each other, for example through localized ads. - exchange best practices regarding the app as well as other matters - trigger other specific partnerships such as those to apply to EU funded projects In order to bring the app to more and more cities, the company is now searching for tourism offices of cities with rich tangible cultural heritage for services agreements.
Innovations and advantages
The deployment of this project in the partner cities will: - improve the cultural experience of tourists during their visits - help cities control the information available (vs. external companies) - provide a source of income for the participating tourism institution - promote internationally each partner city The company offers a business model which is sustainable for everyone: - Tourists enjoy the city more and are willing to pay for that - Cities provide new services to their tourists and generate income to maintain and promote their heritage - the app improves city tourism and generates revenue in order to develop new features Besides first features of the app, which address the top current frustrations among cultural tourists, there are many others on queue: - automatic routing from user's current position, which saves them time and helps balance tourists traffic across the city - connecting with other city visitors who are nearby, facilitating social discovery - recording of routes taken and geolocalized media so the user can keep a mapped version of their photoalbum - sharing routes and media through social media, a promotion of the city - gathering of statistics (BigData) about tourists localization, useful to plan city's development strategies.
01004002 Applications for Tourism
01006001 Audiovisual Equipment and Communication
Market application codes
02007007 Applications software
07001007 Other leisure and recreational products and services
Intellectual property rights
Area of partner's activity
The company is looking for partner cities with high inbound of cultural tourists and centralized tourist information offices. Initially and in order to reach a sustainable business the company focuses on cities with several hundred thousand visitors a year, and with a size of around 50.000-300.000 inhabitants. These numbers are approximate and each case would be appropriately studied. The most important factors are the commitment of the Tourism Office to reach a minimum of downloads. This business model is not sustainable if a critical number of downloads is not reached. Each city would have an individual app for their tourists to download so the numbers of downloads are independent from one city to another. The tasks of the partner cities will be to: - offer and promote the app at the tourist office in the city - offer/advertise the app on their webpage - decide which are the relevant POI - feed the content for POIs (many times this is just copy and paste or adding a link) The tasks of the German company include: - provide a mean for users to install the app in their mobile devices (including 30% Android/Apple costs) - maintain the App software, including corrections (bugs) and new features - provide and maintain a general platform for adding and updating content about the POI for the city - provide general marketing material (banner stand, flyers/brochures, etc.) - train/advise on how to present information to make it more attractive - train/advise on marketing strategies Remarks: i) There are no rules on how to promote the app or which content; here the key point is that the better the city does, the more the revenue; The company will only advise based on best-practices and previous experience. ii) In order to encourage good content and marketing, a schema has been defined so that the more downloads in a city, the more the percentage of sales is paid to the Tourism Office; for example, selling 10.000 units (one download out of one hundred visitors for a 1-Million-visitors city), it gets 16% (aprox. 5.000€), whereas if the number reaches 50.000 units (5 downloads for each one hundred visitors), the city gets 20% (30.000€). iii) Naturally, the company considers sales as an indicator of users' satisfaction, no more, no less. If a user likes the feature and the content they will buy the app again and will advise others to do so. iv) For cities which do not have all the information electronically yet, the company offers the service of feeding the data at a fee. Since the company needs to finance all the costs until it is sustainable, they ask for a €5.000 fee to deploy in each city. This fee will be given back if downloads/year reach a minimum. The goal is two-fold: cover initial costs before actually making revenue, and motivate the city to actively be involved on the product. Additional information can be handed out on request.