New mobile app helps visitors to the North Coast

The theme of the annual Tourism Industry Conference last week was once again online marketing.

The theme of the annual Tourism Industry Conference last week was once again online marketing. There was a full day workshop on the subject prior to the conference. There was also a session on key social media trends in the tourism industry, a good overview of how travelers are using social media and how destinations can capitalize on the tools available to them, and another on mobile computing and the digital mapping revolution, about how travelers are using their smart phones while traveling.

Indeed, though it might not have happened yet, the day will come when online marketing will be the only form of marketing. Certainly this day has drawn closer in the North, with a new mobile application launched last month by the Northern BC Tourism Association.

The project started along the road to reality with a partnership between Tourism Prince Rupert, Tourism Dawson Creek, Tourism Prince George, Tourism Smithers, and Kermodei Tourism in Terrace. Aware that there were certain constraints on provincial funding to the northern tourism region, these communities wanted to find a way to assist the region in developing marketing tools specific to northern needs. We collectively built a small fund which could then be partnered with the region’s resources, and there was no more suitable use for the resulting fund than the mobile technology that the region was already discussing.

The new “Northern BC” app covers all of Northern BC, and helps users find the basics of what to do, where to eat, and where to stay. Not only that, it also uses the Smartphones built-in GPS function to tell users what is nearby, and even directs them there. The Northern BC app is available on three platforms, iPhone, iPad and Android, and a mobile website acts as a catchall for other platforms.

To quote Clint Fraser, Strategic Planning and Marketing, Northern BC Tourism, “Travelers are becoming more technologically savvy and increasingly reliant on the information they access from mobile devices. The Northern BC app provides instant access to travel information, assists in decision-making, and ultimately enhances visitors’ experience while traveling in our region.”

From personal experience I can tell you that using mobile technology as a travel tool is growing increasingly prevalent. You see it everywhere, and when I’m in unfamiliar places I do it myself. And it might not be relevant in Prince Rupert, but in larger centres, or when traveling withing the region, the app will also be useful for finding new restaurants and activities.

“More than ever, it is important to meet travelers needs whenever and wherever they are” says Northern BC Tourism CEO, Anthony Everett. “This app is one example of how Northern BC Tourism is staying at the forefront of tourism marketing, and providing valuable tools for visitors to our region.”

The app is now available for free download on iTunes and the Android Market.

The new Northern BC app is just one example of how Tourism Prince Rupert is working with our partners in developing new ways of using online marketing. We’re working to stay current with social media, and building that audience. We’re still growing into the technology incorporated in the new TPR website launched last year, such as by adding more features to listings for individual members.

It will still take some time for online marketing to completely replace traditional marketing, especially given the gaps in mobile service in northern BC, but these are the services that customers now

demand.