I recently took a 3 week trip to the US and was reviewing whether to look for a low cost car park facility at the airport and have the hassle of leaving early to go to the park facility and then on my return having to call them to pick me up in a van, wait for it to arrive etc, you know the story, all the stuff you don’t need when you are tired after close to 24 hours of travel.
I decided to try the Air New Zealand Taxi service, which is one of our clients. They use our routing engine to determine the fastest route in time and distance and then allow you to select from 5 different transport options, from a shuttle to an executive car. They guarantee the fare, which you pay up front and even give you airpoints.
One of the things you often worry about with taxis is whether they will arrive on time and of course being an Air NZ service, they not only link your service to your flights, but they they guarantee that if your transport hasn’t arrived within 15 minutes of the booked time they will provide you with a replacement vehicle AND a full refund. That’s confidence in their own service!
I booked them for the return trip as well and this gave me extra confidence when my flight from Denver to Los Angeles broke down, that Air New Zealand Taxis would know if I ended up having to catch a later flight having missed the one I was scheduled for. It was also nice arriving back home in Auckland and seeing a driver waiting there with my name on a sign.
I’ll be using this service again and am happy to recommend it both because they are a valued client, but more importantly because it is a great service. You know what you are getting, you know the cost up front and they deliver on their promise. On top of that, of course you are supporting New Zealand businesses and saving time and money.
Btw, the site was developed by our friends at Bocapa.
For a long time we have been encouraging our business partners to look at developing applications and devices to track elderly people, people with memory impaired conditions such as dementia, blind, autistic and others. There have been many challenges in this area because these devices are often a little on the bulky side and need daily charging due to the power constraints of batteries used for communications and GPS. Designing devices that are appealing such as bracelets, necklaces that people are prepared to wear has been a challenge. That development goes on and we hope that in the next year or so, we will see some success and demand from the market.
There is of course another huge market segment where mobiles are used. We are starting to see a number of applications like Pingbot, which we mentioned on our Facebook Page. This uses location based services including GPS to identify the location of a person’s mobile, with their permission of course. Effectively with Pingbot, the owner of the mobile has a secret word, effectively like a password that the user can share with those trusted people who may need to be able to find them. Obvious users would be children (most teenage children would not go anywhere without a mobile today), people with some form of disability, injury or medical risk, such as allergies or requiring medication, they may have forgotten to take with them. It could also be a social, sport or other reason for people to be able to find each other, such as a buddy finder environment. The idea of Pingbot is that all you need to do is send an SMS message with the secret word in order to find the location of that person.
GeoSmart has the web services and API’s to help developers create these types of solution in New Zealand and Australia. This includes highly accurate mapping, accurate turn by turn directions via the fastest route and services such as Reverse GeoCoding, which allows you to send a set of coordinates to our servers, which will return the nearest street address to that location.
These sorts of applications were difficult to market in the past because most people didn’t have mobiles with GPS. Today is a different story. It’s almost difficult to find a mobile in a retail store today that does not have GPS. We’d like to hear from developers who would like to help find that child that didn’t get home, the diabetic who went out without their insulin, or the blind person who has become disoriented. We offer a Developer Agreement for free and are local, in your time zone, with real people you can talk to about your application development.
I was just reading an article about some research from Avaya and BT about The Autonomous Customer. It reiterates a lot of inmation you already know but should perhaps be reminded of.
- 60% of respondents said they change their contact channel with brands based on context, i.e. where they are and what they are doing.
- 51%, the autonomous customers, cut organisations out of the loop altogether but trust the advice of unknown others on forums, review sites etc.
- 46% regard customer loyalty as a thing of the past
I found this research through an article at thewherebusiness.com which discussed research about how people are managing their money. Where they bank, how they decide to borrow money and the influence in location on those factors. It makes for interesting reading and whilst New Zealand is a small country and has few banks, one element that shone through with high relevance was the willingness of people to share their location with their bank or credit card company.
The relevance for New Zealand of course is that 4 Canadian people have just been arrested for putting skimmers (devices that copy the information from the magnetic stripe on your credit or EFTPOS card) and subsequently allowing people to draw money from at least 60 people’s accounts over Easter 2012 from ATM machines in Canada. The story says that these skimmers had apparently been installed in Parnell, Ponsonby, Orewa, Takapuna and Howick and allowed the theft of account information from at least 500 people.
If the banks embraced location based technology with Smartphones (before Google Wallet, Paypal or a telco takes over m-commerce) people who allow their banks to know where they are through their mobile could be protected. Effectively if the bank knows I am in New Zealand, then I am unlikely to be in a position to withdraw money from an ATM in Canada with my card.
Of course there is a lot more gold (pardon the pun) in location based intelligence for banks. Banks probably all have a GIS person on board who has the ability to prepare reports for Business Analysts to make decisions about where to put branches, based on where their customers live, work and play. However, the problem with GIS is that unless you have personal access to it in real time and can do modelling with ease (requiring software and skills) and without long delays or having to wait for someone else to run queries on what they think you asked for, it can easily end up in the too hard basket.
In today’s world where a large percentage of people do not carry cash, but want to borrow and spend money, finance houses and banks need tools like BIonaMAP to be able to understand what their customers are doing and where. Tools that are secure, but can be accessed via a web browser within the intranet can allow the modern banker to stay a step ahead of their competitors. If you can’t assume loyalty, you need to understand your clients and their needs and be ready to adapt quickly.
According to this 3 News Story today, Credit Card Fraud Proceeds Surpass the Drug Trade. That must be a good motivator for banks to start talking to location based service companies like GeoSmart.
According to this Australian story from Today Tonight, it takes just 60 seconds for someone to convert a retail EFTPOS terminal to steal information from all of the cards that are swiped through it and the customers would have no idea their identities had been stolen. What does this cost the industry and what stress does this cause to consumers? BAU Business As Usual can’t be the way forward for the finance industry. I’m sure we don’t want to go back to carrying cash. Would you be happy to let the banking system know where you are so that they can confirm that the person using your card is you?
I’ve blogged about route optimisation many times recently. One recent blog talked about Fleet Management, our new BIonaMAP application and some other wonderful concepts, as ideas on how to save your business money and time and thereby increasing productivity and productivity.
I would like to break this down a little bit because there is a misconception out there that all of this technology requires spending lots of money and installing expensive equipment in your company vehicles. Let me break it down for you. There are some wonderful solutions out there, many of which are offered by our valued partners and they all have a purpose and fulfil business needs. Some business problems are complex and require complex solutions and some are simple and provide very quick return on investment.
So here is a simple problem. You have one or more vehicles which need to go out on the road and do several jobs. They may be regular runs, or they may be different each day. Let’s make it even simpler. Let’s break it down to one vehicle. You may have lots of vehicles, but let’s just look at one of them.
Here we have a merchandiser, who has to visit a number of supermarkets. One person has to visit 9 grocery stores, checking their stocks, managing the shelf placement, demonstrating new products, taking orders. As do many field sales people in New Zealand and Australia, their territory comprises of urban calls and calls out in the country and they spend a lot of their time driving.
The problem is that you can only fit so much time in a working day. You can have a pretty good idea of what order to do the jobs in, probably the order you always do them in. The other problem is that the price of petrol is going up, prices are coming down and your budget is going up. You need to get smarter.
Our Route2GO Lite application is a simple web service. There is no software to be installed, no set up fees and as Software as a Service you only pay for what you use. In this case person, who is a great sales person, spent 28 1/2 hours in the car, dead time between calls in order to make those essential visits. Route2GO worked out how she could do the same visits but spending only 22 hours in the car. Now she can either fit in more calls in the same amount of time or spend more time with each client enhancing the relationship, doing product knowledge training with their staff and increasing the average sales she generates from those clients, which reduces the pressure on her and her sales manager to get the results the company needs.
We also cut over 400km in driving distance from this sales trip. At even $1 per km that’s a lot of money going back to the bottom line.
So what do you need in order to achieve a result like this? A PC with a web browser. An account with GeoSmart and a little time. For this run which included 9 clients and returning to base with a pile of orders, the total cost to GeoSmart would have been $6.25. No hidden surprises, that’s it. This includes the fee for geocoding (generating coordinates for calculating the route) and the optimisation from the office, to the 9 stores and back to the office. Oh and the cost of a piece of paper if you want to print off the above map and route.
It really is that simple. If you want to know more, why not contact us? We’ll even do a couple of runs for you for free, preferably ones you have already done previously so you can get a genuine comparison as to whether it will work for you. This was a dramatic example, in some cases it might only save you a little, but if we could help you visit one or two more customers in a trip without increasing your fixed overheads, every trip, hat would that add up to over a year?
We have more information about route optimisation in our blogs, so why not have a scroll through and see if you can find an example that’s relevant to your business. In an upcoming blog I will explain in simple terms what route optimisation actually is and why we can do it better than you can drawing pictures on a map. The key point of this exercise is that you can achieve dramatic results without putting in any money upfront and without having to buy any technology you don’t already have. Route2GO is available for New Zealand and Australia.
Following on from my last blog Adding Location to Loyalty Cards, an area that I feel is really important is game mechanics. One of the problems with loyalty cards is that they are inherently boring and there are lots of them. We live in a world of constant distraction and we want instant gratification. However that gratification doesn’t have to be a free air ticket or turbo food processor with Ginzu knives. It can be as simple as points or recognition and applications today need to evolve as the public become more tech savvy on their mobiles.
What is game mechanics and how is it relevant? Playing games is part of who we human animals are. Games are a natural part of entertainment and education, whether it is a child doing its first jigsaw puzzle, or the All Blacks heading into a rugby match at that international world competition for a cup. Yes, ultimately no matter how passionate we are about success, Graham Henry and the NZRFU themselves said “It’s just a game.”
Games are immensely popular and computer and mobile offers massive revenue potential. Gartner predicts that the global video game industry on its own will generate revenues of over US$112 billion by 2015. That doesn’t even take into consideration mobile. Application developers have been all over Facebook, now on Google+ and on devices such as iPhone, iPad and Android and now developers of smart location based games and marketing applications are heading the same way.
Developers are looking to use our interest and passion for playing games to influence the behaviour of consumers and it is working. One obvious area is in the retail, travel, tourism, attraction, hospitality and entertainment industries. Of course as I have outlined in many recent blogs, loyalty is a key aspect that all of these industries are looking for, or in other words, profitable repeat business.
So what aspects should a loyalty application include. A major one is achievements. I’ve talked about reward and that rewards don’t have to be tangible items. A reward can be points such as the points used by Foursquare when you check into a location. They also have badges and mayorships which are either the reward itself or their may be special deals or offers made to those people who come in regularly. The new Tap City game allows you to earn virtual dollars for checking in. One of the great things about group loyalty operations is the ability to cross market, for example using a passport concept where the more locations you check in to, the more rewards you get.
The appointment dynamic is extremely powerful. This is where you want people to do something at either a predetermined time or an ad hoc time. For example a restaurant that is always quiet between 3PM and 5PM on a particular day of the week might offer incentives within the application to get more business at that time of day. The concept I like the most, is pushing deals when you have inventory you want to use in a hurry. An example might be the special of the day in a restaurant where you haven’t sold as much as you catered for. The classic story I often use of a jet boat that is going out in 20 minutes with 5 empty seats. This is a perfect opportunity to push a deal to people who are close by and have opted in to be offered deals. The cost differential between having 4 or 9 passengers is negligible but the fun and entertainment factor of 9 people screaming as the boat does a 360 degree spin is significantly greater for all, including the 4 who paid full price. There is also a potential dynamic of more people seeing them having fun and therefore wanting to have a go themselves. The same could apply to any attraction, like the luges in Auckland and Queenstown.
I can come up with a hundred concepts for different types of locations for cafe’s, restaurants, attractions, theatres, travel, accommodation, entertainment, retail, sport, tourism and so can you.
I will continue this blog next week with more thoughts on game mechanics or gamification that you might like to consider in your location based application. Remember, GeoSmart has all the data and tools you ned to make these ideas possible and whilst we don’t develop these sorts of applications ourselves, we have many partners who are keen to assist you if you want to take advantage of the opportunities now possible because of the large number of people using location aware mobiles. The question is how much extra business would you like?
Maybe you would like to join the discussion and leave a comment of your own to add to the mix?
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