Tag Archives: hotels

The Importance of Owning Your Own Content

20 Feb

Imagine hiring a carpenter to build you a new kitchen cabinet. You pay him for the job, he builds something pretty spiffy, and you’re pleased. But then you read the fine print in the contract, and you see that even though you paid him for the work, he (not you) actually owns the cabinet. 

Many museums have experienced something similar (although hopefully it didn’t come as a surprise) when creating an Audio Tour or an App. You hire an outside company to produce audio or video content, and it stipulates in the contract that they have partial or complete ownership of the content.

This means that you don’t own what you paid for. It means you have to get permission – and perhaps pay a fee – to make any changes, or to use that content in places other than your audio tour.  And it doesn’t expire after a year or two – that applies to the life of the content.

This is the way it was done, at times, in the past. Please do not let this happen again. 

Times have changed. The market is competitive. Production costs have come spiraling down. You can either produce high-quality content in-house or often hire it out for a reasonable price. And you will own the content 100%.  

Owning your content means you have FREEDOM!  It puts you and your organization in control and it means you can get more value out of your audio tour content.  If you have 10 videos that showcase your museum and its collection why not extend the use of those videos to beyond the tour?  You can place them on your website, put them on your organization’s FaceBook page, in email newsletter’s etc.  In this era of mass-consumption of information, content truly is king.  Make sure you own yours.

Have you run into this issue? Where you used a third-party to produce content – and they retained ownership? Any advice you’d give to other folks out there based on your experience?

For more on producing your own content in-house check out our do-it-yourself series.

Five Reasons Every Hotel Should Have a Mobile Tour

23 Jan

If you’re a hotel, you spend a lot of time and effort to provide information to your guests. Racks of brochures line the lobby with info about the surrounding area, and a concierge is available to talk with guests about shopping and dining options. But what about having a smartphone app for the hotel – where guests could access all of this information instantly?

hotels-feature-image_1A mobile app can be an awesome marketing and customer service tool for hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts and hostels. We work with large and small properties – and a hotel app provides an opportunity to engage your guests before, during and after their stay.

Here are five great reasons that every hotel should have a mobile tour app:

  1. A Mobile App Provides a Preview of Your Hotel: Statistics show that more and more people are accessing the web via their mobile device each year, yet many hotel websites have not caught up. A mobile app is an effective way to orient potential visitors and to give them a virtual tour of the property and amenities.
  2. A Mobile App is a Portal for Reservations: Once a site visitor has had the chance to view a virtual tour of your property, they can instantly parlay that into action by porting directly from the app into the hotel’s reservation systems. A mobile app provides the visitor with an instant course of action to book a room.
  3. Instant Customer Feedback: Thanks to instant information transmitted from the app, hotels can become aware of guest issues while the customer is in the hotel–and allows you the opportunity to remedy the issue immediately.
  4. Analytics Provide Valuable Customer Data: Apps can provides analytics that help hotels understand and market to their target audience. Much like the Google Analytics gathered from website visits, TourSphere analytics provide demographic and behavioral information about the people accessing your app.
  5. A Mobile App Provides a 24×7 Concierge: Many hotel visitors are more accustomed to turning to their smartphones to advice instead of a concierge. For that audience, a mobile app can provide a “virtual concierge” that orients the visitor, informs them of area attractions and provides them a full listing of the hotel’s amenities. It creates a labor-free service for the hotel to help enhance the guests’ experience without implementing costly programs and additional concierges and guides.

Curious about how hotels are utilizing TourSphere to create mobile apps for marketing and virtual concierge purposes? Check out the Mountainview Grand app or the Chandler Inn app that helps visitors explore Boston!

Mobile Year in Review: Lessons Learned in Mobile in 2012

31 Dec

As 2012 draws to a close, many of us will be reflecting on what we’ve learned over the past year. While perhaps some reflections will be personal or professional, here at TourSphere, we want to take a minute to review the year in mobile. So we’ve tapped our team to present to you the lessons we’ve learned in the mobile space this year.

Mobile must be a part of your strategy.
– Juliet Devries, VP of Community Relations

2012 was the year that a mobile component to your marketing strategy went from being “nice to have” to “necessary.” Even Facebook learned that the lack of a solid mobile strategy can do a number on your company’s value.

A Nielsen study released in February 2012 revealed that nearly half of the cell phones in the US are smartphones, up 38% over the same statistic for 2011. Microsoft Tag predicts that mobile usage will overtake desktop usage by 2014.

These statistics confirm what all of us already knew from our own day-to-day usage: if you don’t have a mobile presence and if that presence doesn’t make it easy for a user to access your information on their device, you’re losing out on a huge chunk of your audience.

The mobile market will become increasingly fragmented, with more choices for consumers.
– Rob Pyles, CEO

Smartphone-OS-share

In the beginning, mobile developers had only to worry about Apple and Android.

Today, the options for mobile devices expand on what feels like a daily basis. From smartphones to tablets, new technology like the Microsoft Surface gives consumers the power of choice and gives developers the headache of having to add yet another platform to their list. A recent Nielsen study showed that Android,  which “dominates” the market, still has less than a 50% market share when it comes to smartphones.

Developing across multiple platforms is going to be increasingly important as we enter 2013. Web apps like those created on TourSphere Builder will provide a flexible, more nimble and more economical option than developing native apps.

You need a long-term mobile strategy, not just an app.
– Clayton Jones, TourSphere Mobile Advisor

In 2011, companies were building apps like crazy. In 2012, we started thinking about other aspects of the mobile strategy. Because so many people are accessing your company or organization’s information by mobile device, it’s essential that an entire strategy take place around the mobile medium, not just a single app, and that that strategy is as flexible as the rest of your marketing plan. We began to see companies turn to TourSphere to help with this flexibility, because web apps can be easily managed and changed unlike native apps.

We began to see that mobile goes beyond simply an app, into location-based services that help with targeted marketing, to websites optimized for mobile devices to coupons delivered by mobile device. An entire strategy around how your audience uses mobile is essential for 2013.  Analytics and data on how visitors are using your app is critical to evaluating, developing and adjusting your mobile strategy.
Tell us: What do you think was the biggest lesson about mobile in 2012, or the biggest mobile story of the year?

Transform a Tablet into a Kiosk – in a Snap!

11 Dec

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Museums, hotels, and all kinds of destinations have long-recognized the value of kiosks.  Kiosks are great ways to engage visitors, provide and collect information quickly, offer maps and event info and otherwise cut-down on common questions which can bog down staff members.

The hold-up for most organizations has been cost.  Plain and simple.  Kiosks and software are pricey and take a lot of time to maintain. Not anymore!! We’re excited to say that having a touchscreen kiosk just got waaay easier and cheaper.

Yes, TourSphere is now offering iPad touchscreen kiosks! You can use our app builder to build one yourself (checkout the one Toledo Museum of Art did recently) or we can build it for you, fast and easy.

Using TourSphere to build your kiosk app decreases the costs of kiosks dramatically, for both the software and the hardware – as much as 85%. It also increases the speed of deployment.  You can literally have a functioning kiosk installed at your site within a couple of days.

Kiosk app at the Toledo Museum of Art. Photo by Andrew Weber.

Kiosk app at the Toledo Museum of Art. Photo by Andrew Weber.

There are just two simple things you’ll need to launch your kiosk:

1. The Hardware

Obviously you will need a tablet.  Apple’s iPads are the most popular and offer some great features for kiosks (such as “Guider User Mode” which allows you to “lock” your clients in to an app) but there are cheaper tablets out there if your budget is really tight.  Whichever device you choose you will also need a way to mount and secure it so that it cannot walk away.  Luckily there are dozens of options out there – locking, blocking the power and home button, allowing for continuous power, etc… (we have some favorites if you want to chat).

2. The Software

This is the easy part!  TourSphere specializes in visitor-based apps.  Our apps allow organizations to collect data, provide real-time, remote updates, provide interactive maps, stream audio and video and much more. Clients have built a custom app in TourSphere in as little as 3 days. To see for yourself create a free account and play around with it.

Here’s a couple of ideas on how organizations can use TourSphere kiosk apps:

Exhibits: You can build a kiosk app for an exhibit, then when a new exhibit comes into town, you can re-use the same hardware (the iPads) and simply update the app itself with the new content. Voila! Your new exhibit features touchscreen kiosks!

Photo by Andrew Weber.

Photo by Andrew Weber.

Hotels: You can place a kiosk in your lobby which provides an interactive overview of the entire property.  Guests can quickly orient themselves with the property amenities, view event schedules, log complaints or comments and see area info.  In short, they can access the most common questions which your concierge probably gets tired of answering.

Interested in creating a kiosk app? Just create a free account and get started building. If you’re thinking about touchscreen kiosks or iPad apps but don’t quite have the idea hammered out or aren’t sure how to start, drop us a line and we’d love to chat about it.

Have you worked with kiosks in the past? What do you wish was easier – or cheaper – about the process?

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Features to Include in Your Hotel’s Mobile App

20 Nov

By nature, most people staying at a hotel are in a place that’s entirely new to them. Since what seems like the dawn of time, travelers have relied on the recommendations of concierges in making decisions about the area and getting oriented within the hotel or resort itself. In recent years, web searches have started to play a large part in people’s travel plans, and the advent of browsers in mobile phones makes it even easier for travelers to quickly make decisions about what they want to do when staying at a hotel. But what if you could combine the best of both worlds: provide your on-site concierge’s expertise to your guests, even those who would rather do the research on their phones?

Many hotels, hostels and resorts have begun implementing mobile apps to help act as virtual concierges for their guests. At TourSphere, we’ve seen everyone from historic hotels like the Mountain View Grand to trendy hostel’s like Boston’s 40Berkeley implement mobile tour apps to help their guests get around. If you’re considering a mobile app for your hotel, hostel or resort, we’ve got a list of features you should include!

  • A map of the property: TourSphere allows you to easily create an interactive map that can help orient your guests to your property and even to nearby points of interest.
  • Frequently requested must-sees: Whether it’s recommended restaurants or  nearby sites, add them to your interactive map and create informational icons that give visitors the low-down on the spot, including menus, hours and more.
  • Event calendar: Because TourSphere apps are web-based, you can update them on a constant basis and the update immediately pushes into the app. Add events within your own hotel and those in the surrounding tourist area so guests can be tuned in at the touch of a button.
  • Special property features: Whether your hotel has a special local art exhibit or just some fantastic historical features, be sure to include images, video, audio, or written explanation. This will help identify the unique aspects of your hotel and make the stay memorable for the guest.

We want to hear from you! What features are must-haves for any hotel, hostel or resort app that you’d want to use?

Budget Travelers Explore Boston with a Mobile Concierge

2 Nov

As you know from our last blog post, hotels and resorts find it extremely beneficial to create and utilize a TourSphere app to highlight their own property and services. Today, we want to introduce you to 40Berkeley, the hippest and most affordable place to stay right  in the heart of Boston!

40Berkely created a mobile app for potential tourists and current visitors, to help introduce them to the property and navigate their way around the city. Their app provides visitors with contact information, maps, event listings as well as a link to their blog for more ideas and suggestions for what to do around the city. They even provide virtual tours to many of Boston’s local attractions, so visitors can view places before they even arrive at their destination! And, they highlight restaurants and attractions that provide a discount specifically for 40Berkeley guests. Guests can even provide on-the-spot feedback through their survey right on their mobile phone!

We compliment 40Berkeley on their great mobile app and think they did a great job providing potential and current guests all of the information they would need for planning a trip to Boston! Check it out!

To view the Mobile Tour of 40Berkeley visit http://40berkeley.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

To view the Mobile Tour of 40Berkeley visit http://40berkeley.toursphere.com or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

Hotel Apps and “Mobile Concierge” Services

30 Oct

In this hyper-connected age where seemingly everyone has a smartphone or tablet, hotels and resorts want to serve guests on the go. Luckily, TourSphere can help. TourSphere provides hotels with the tools they need to create hotel apps and virtual concierge services for their guests, whether they’re at the hotel or at home preparing for their trip.

By adding a mobile app to their marketing mix, hotels and resorts can give guests a look at the premises right on their mobile phones. From information about the hotel’s amenities, such as pool or spa hours, and multimedia slideshows with colorful photos to maps that can orient guests and interesting historical information or facts, an app become like a “concierge in the pocket”.


In addition, by adding a mobile app to their marketing mix, resorts have the opportunity to provide a multitude of benefits to guests including:

  • Potential visitors can check out rooms before they book by using virtual tours that they can view from the palm of their own hand.
  • Allow guests to plan their stay before they arrive. Add your hotel’s restaurant or spa on the mobile app so guests can view the menu, make reservations, or schedule treatments as they travel to your locale.
  • Let the TourSphere app answer common guest questions, like the events for the day or where the pool is located. It’s like each guest has their own personal concierge!
  • Orient your visitor with street smart maps that integrate with Google Maps, pointing your guests to local points of interest and seamlessly providing directions.
  • Let the guests provide their feedback on-the-go. Gather real-time analytics about your guests’ experience at your hotel so you can continually improve it.

Many hotels and resorts have seen the value that a mobile app can bring them. Check out how one hotel, The Mountain View Grand, uses TourSphere’s mobile app to serve their guests.

Try it out today on the TourSphere Builder, which allows interested parties to take a free test drive to play around with features and build a mock-up of how the app will look. Then, when you’re ready to implement, you can take it live and give guests the royal virtual treatment!

Mountain View Grand Resort Uses TourSphere Mobile App to Serve Guests

27 Jun

Mountain View Grand Hotel’s mobile concierge service from Toursphere

Kudos to Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa who used TourSphere to build an onsite Mobile Concierge. Any question you could ever ask a concierge can be answered right on the hotel’s swanky new app. You can check out daily events, tour the property, peruse menus, book spa and restaurant reservations and more. The mobile concierge app for the Mountain View Grand Hotel is also one of the most aesthetically pleasing to date.

We think The Mountain View Grand is a noteworthy example of how mobile technology can take a guest’s experience and make it infinitely  more memorable.  Give it a whirl and let us know your thoughts.

To view the Mobile Tour of the Mountain View Grand Hotel visit http://mountainviewgrand.toursphere.com/ or scan this QR code with your smartphone.

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