Start-up sessions: itravelnz
Smartphones, tablets, netbooks and the like are an increasingly indispensable tool for most people. Even in traditionally slow-uptake industries like tourism, people realise mobile marketing is essential in order to capture the mass of smartphone-toting customers seeking information while travelling.
Start Up company itravelnz decided to build a business around those very people, creating an app that offers travellers with smartphones instant, up-to-date local information and interactive maps.
Created by Yuri Volna, founder of RentGPSNZ (a company renting GPS navigation devices to travellers), itravelnz is supported by a fully functional web based portal and is integrated with several popular international navigation options, guiding travellers to their chosen destination or activity.
Each point of interest, café, activity and place to stay is geo-located, allowing travellers to find what’s close by. itravelnz is available in over 30 languages, and incorporates social media and reviews so travellers can recommend their favourite places to friends and fellow travellers.
Volna says he spent nearly a year developing the app, using technology from around the world.
"With our background in the industry offering GPS devices for the rental car and campervan market we already had a strong understanding of who would be using the product and how it would be used,” Volna says.
"The challenges lay in developing the software from scratch and establishing how to launch a travel guide that would be useful from day one. We shopped around and overcame the development issue by using international development, from Brazil, America and Australia, and modifying it to create a world-first result.”
The determination to launch an immediately usable guide was challenging, with Volna and his team quickly identifying a chicken and egg scenario.
"Travellers can’t use a travel guide that’s empty, and advertisers won’t support an app that doesn’t get downloaded. We employed a team of experienced staff to create travel content – it already contains over six hundred points of interest, basic travel information, and a growing number of accommodation, cafes and activities.”
Removing the need for advertising support in order to offer good quality travel information allowed itravelnz to be available for download and use even during the developmental stages.
Being ‘the new kid on the block’ and having no annual statistics yet has not hindered the company in any way, with over 3,000 copies of the app already downloaded.
"We are establishing and growing in the market, creating demand and satisfying users through high quality content.”
Volna sees itravelnz as a way of enhancing the traveller’s experience, encouraging them to get off the beaten track and discover New Zealand’s beaches, parks, walks, volcanoes, lighthouses, history and culture – everything they’d want and more.
"We are constantly listening to our audience, giving them the local information they want. That is the core goal for itravelnz. We will continue to engage as well as following trends and implementing developments that are popular.”
With a good response from both the business market and tourist users, Volna says the company has no intentions of resting on its laurels.
"We intend to lead the market in mobile marketing to both domestic and international travellers in New Zealand. Already we have some exciting new functionality in the pipeline with sales, community engagement and offline information being key.”
Check out itravelnz’s website here.