Jasons New iPhone App

Since posting here about the importance of mobile technology for tourism operators a couple of months back, many of New Zealand’s key tourism players have released updated versions of their mobile applications.

When in Auckland a few weeks ago, it was interesting to have met with Kevin Francis, the new CEO at Jasons Travel Media and talk a little bit about their online plans, including the recently launched iPhone app; prompted by a 100% increase in visits to their site from a mobile device in the past year, most of which were from iPhones.

Alongside the functionality that users have come to expect like geo-location, maps and reviews, the new app has some nifty features including the ability to register and log-in using Facebook (allowing for quicker processing) and perhaps most impressive the ability to book directly from the app through a secure encrypted connection. A service that few, if any, New Zealand based companies have yet to release.
Whilst the application was launched a few weeks ago, it seems that this week ‘all systems are go’ at Jasons, in an all out effort to start encouraging its use. Alongside new signage with QR codes on Jasons brochure stands nationwide, from tomorrow all web traffic from an iPhone will be welcomed by encouragement to download the new app for better usability.

The application will certainly be of use to the growing number of visitors travelling with mobile devices, but what about the all important question of how much is it going to cost Jasons advertisers? I was happy to hear that Jasons have chosen not to charge advertisers any more for being listed on the app. A decision I welcome, believing that the cost in developing this type of resource is part of their business development, not a cost to be passed directly on to operators, as other well-known tourism promotion companies continue to do.

It is positive to see Jasons, who may have traditionally been associated with print, offering a range of on and offline solutions including mobile applications; to ensure it continues to service the needs of its advertisers and respond to the ever changing expectations of its end-users.

If you’re not already doing so, I’d recommend downloading apps that you are listed on, to familiarise yourself with what your customers are experiencing and to ensure you fully appreciate the ever-changing functionality available on these devices.

You can find the Jasons App by visiting the App Store from your iPhone or iPad.

5 Comments

  1. Motella December 22, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    Great article James

    Just a clarification – accommodation advertisers paid up-front for a Jasons print/online combo package for numerous services that included a listing on the Jasons iPad/iPhone app.

    Jasons have not imposed an agent’s commission on reservations received via this mobile channel and at this stage the accommodation provider will process payments directly (ie debit the end-users card).

    The only other comparable Kiwi based app that I’m aware of is AA Travel that updated over the weekend so that they can also process online accommodation bookings and secure payments – (in time for Xmas).

    What is interesting to me is that after a location is selected, both apps require the user to choose an accommodation provider from an unqualified list before entering in/out dates, number of persons variables.

    Compare this with Hotels.com that in my opinion set the standard by requiring the user to enter these details before qualified accommodation options are displayed.

    These apps aren’t perfect, but it’s good to have a first-up Kiwi mobile channel.

    http://motella.blogspot.com/2011/12/more-mobile-motels.html

  2. Peter Blackwell December 22, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Motella. Whilst Hotels.com establishes a benchmark (although I prefer booking.com’s i-pad ap) there is a key point of comparison being missed.

    Hotels.com is a booking and commission site. The AA and Jasons aps provide a broader search that may result in a phonecall, email or live booking. To search by date availability would be to limit search results to only those properties with live inventory. With only half of NZ properties providing that, the default should be to give the consumer the choice.

    With commission not at risk we provide a better profile of destination properties.

    I will also confirm that there is no extra charge from AA Toursim to be listed on our ap

  3. James Hacon December 22, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    Thanks for your input Motella and Peter. Much appreciated. Good to hear of other international site examples and AA’s position too.

    I welcome media releases or contact with new, innovative or updated eTourism related services and products relevant to the New Zealand market that I can review or introduce through this forum.

  4. Motella December 22, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    Hi there Pete

    I agree that offering the consumer choice is a good thing and by giving them the option to leave the app to contact the accommodation provider direct is a unique point of difference – especially when comparing with those pesky North American apps that also list Kiwi accommodation.

    I would suggest that travel consumers that use a mobile application are looking for relevant immediacy and don’t have time to wade through display adds or have a ring-around. There is a risk of giving the consumer random results that include accommodation providers that may not have availability, suitable room types etc will lessen the credibility of the app.

    If the consumer is unable to be satisfied within the shell of the app – then what’s the point?

    With respect, a mobile channel is best served as an add-on those advertisers that provide you with bookable online inventory. Do advertisers that only wish to purchase a display product from you really care if they are not included on an app?

  5. Kevin Francis December 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Thank you James for alerting the industry about our new mobile solution for consumers of that channel.

    It’s certainly an interesting point that Motella makes and one that I was discussing with Stewart on Monday at our motelier advisory group meeting in Nelson.

    I concur with Peter’s view on apps like Jasons in that they are more than just a booking system. Indeed, into the future, the Jasons app will both include a wider variety of relevant visitor information as well as use consumer profile information to provide a more tailored search experience . A booking will be only one outcome or feature that users receive from the app.

    As recent Colmar Brunton and international research Jasons has undertaken highlights, regardless of the channel being used, there is a significant proportion of people that still prefer to call up and want further information. For people having made a booking online (including through mobile devices), making a phone call was the fourth highest rated event in their decision making process. Having this inbuilt call functionality satisfies that need and also allows a medium for operators without online booking inventory. Having said that, the relevance of advertisers presented to the consumer is an area Jasons continues to monitor and look to improve upon. The Jasons search results currently weights those advertisers with bookable inventory.

    Looking forward towards 2012, Jasons will continue to research and develop the app with a view to enhance the consumer experience and provide better engagement with the advertisers.

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