Apps and Attractions

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I was on vacation recently, and I was struck by how many different attractions had their own apps. My hotel had an app, the local museum had an app, and even the town I was in had its own app! What’s with all of these apps, and can they really be helping these attractions and vacation spots this much? I can’t imagine that a whole lot of people keep these apps on their phones after their vacations are over.


There’s no denying it: apps are everywhere. The app stores offered by Google and Apple each feature more than 2 million apps; combined, they have 5 million (though many of those are repeats). Alongside massively popular apps like Netflix and Google Maps, there are plenty of small-time apps that target niche audiences.


And there’s a good reason for that. Americans are spending more and more time on their smartphones and other mobile devices. We Americans spend an average of 5 hours a day interacting with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Desktop and laptop computers are losing their grip on our attention, and this is happening at a time when the internet is playing an increasingly important role in our lives.


So it’s no surprise that all sorts of businesses and attractions are trying to get onto our phone screens. But is it really important for a museum to have an app?


According to one mobile app developer for museums, it can be! Apps are about convenience and utility, and there’s no denying that plenty of one-time visitors may delete a museum’s app once they head back home. But while they’re using it, the app can be a big help: it may house maps and audio guides, for instance.


And what about repeat visitors? Museums often have donor programs or membership opportunities, and those regular visitors might get more out of the app. Museums also frequently have events and temporary exhibitions, and using alerts through an app is a great way to get the attention of frequent visitors.


It’s also worth remembering that a mobile application is just one facet of a museum or other tourist attraction’s advertising and engagement strategy. A mobile application for a zoo or an aquarium doesn’t have to be as popular as “HQ Trivia”–it just has to offer visitors a little convenience and give the institution a way to reach its biggest fans to advertise events and exhibitions. As long as the money is spent wisely, it makes perfect sense for tourist attractions to get their own apps, which can work alongside advertising, paper maps, traditional audio guides, and many other things. The idea is simply to give tourists as many reasons as possible to visit the site–and to make their visit as pleasant as possible once they get there.


“In my opinion, the future of mobile is the future of everything.” — Matt Galligan