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Palm Springs heats up tourism via augmented reality visitors' app

The city of Palm Springs, CA, is bringing augmented reality to the oasis in the form of a mobile application boasting interactive maps, geospatial search and information regarding must-see tourist spots.

The Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism and Civic Resource Group have teamed up to introduce the ?Visit Palm Springs? app to iOS users in a bid to ramp up tourism and assist visitors in planning their trip itineraries. While augmented reality has historically been a staple mobile marketing tactic for consumer packaged goods brands, this launch suggests it may find a new home in the tourism industry as well.

?Augmented reality technology can act as the perfect conduit between the physical and digital worlds, providing tourists with instantaneous access to relevant information from navigational details, to deals, local accommodations or popular hot spots ? right in the moment it is most needed,? said Omaid Hiwaizi, president of global marketing at Blippar, London. ?Via these experiences, not only does AR have the potential to drive footfall and enhance aspects of commerce, but tourists and travelers can also explore and engage with the city in a smarter, more interactive way, enhancing their overall experience of the location in question.

?Providing direct access to a digital version of a traditional tour guide also caters to today?s connected consumer and on-the-go mentality. The guide is now real-time, readily accessible, and can still be personalized to the user?s preferred itinerary.?

Mobile tourist companion
Travelers planning to visit the desert oasis town, located in California?s Coachella Valley, will now be able to access tourist information, such as details about accommodations, hot dining spots and shopping centers, on their mobile devices.

The Bureau of Tourism sought to develop an app that offers instant navigation data and augmented reality features, resulting in the ?Visit Palm Springs? solution, currently only available for iOS devices. The app supports the tourism and travel industries, as well as Palm Spring?s sustainable urban mobility.

Similar to the Bureau?s official site, the app provides a streamlined layout divided into several sections, including ?Stay,? ?Play? and ?Shopping.? Visitors may leverage these tools ahead of their upcoming vacations if they would like to receive guidance on choosing the best hotel or restaurant reservations.

Users may also gain insight on the best shopping spots, pool scenes, local events and tourist attractions.

The augmented reality aspect comes into play when consumers decide to ?move? to another location if they want a sneak peek of an area of interest. The geospatial search and pointed-enabled search also help the augmented reality bring Palm Springs to life.

Compass views and interactive maps help users locate their next activity and find directions in seconds.

Perhaps most notably, the app functions perfectly offline, meaning that users will not have to worry about incurring roaming charges.

On-the-go travel planning
More and more consumers are turning to mobile to complete all of their travel-related tasks, including booking airfare and accommodations, finding local activities and using GPS-enabled tools to explore their final destination.

The Visit Palm Springs app serves as an optimal travel buddy for long-term planners and impromptu adventure enthusiasts alike.

Augmented reality may also become an unstoppable force in the travel industry, thanks to its ability to allow individuals to virtually discover new locations, free of charge. If consumers are pleased with their virtual experience, they may be compelled to make a visit to the real location someday.

Additionally, augmented reality can provide fun keepsakes for travel fans, such as destination postcards with users? faces superimposed over a background.

The technology is also experiencing a surge of use in other industries. Hyundai is paving the way for automotive manufacturers seeking to cater to mobile-savvy car owners by rolling out an augmented reality manual app that brings accessible how-to information to smartphones (see story).

?Apps like VisitPalmSprings further demonstrate the versatility, capability, and real-world applicability of AR,? Mr. Hiwaizi said. ?They are also tangible examples of how AR experiences can deliver real value and function to consumers, or in this case tourists.

?Translating this kind of an AR experience to other locations and cities could certainly help more people to engage with destinations in new, exciting and impactful ways, and to better enjoy the offerings in these locations,? he said.

?From a business perspective, apps or experiences like these can also deliver huge value to travel and tourism organizations, offering detailed analytics on what tourists are most interested in and the places or attractions they are frequenting. Additionally, further raising the profile of local businesses, and encouraging travelers and residents alike to experience the city to its fullest potential, could be beneficial to the city from an economic standpoint.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York