Some airlines are using mobile boarding passes so why not local museums and bus tours?
That development is taking place as Smart Destinations is introducing a customizable attractions' pass which enables travelers to gain admission by printing a barcode or merely by having the barcode scanned from their mobile phones.
The Go Select pass is currently live and in beta on the Smart Destinations website for its New York City attractions and the company plans to introduce it May 17 for attractions in Chicago, Boston, San Diego and Oahu. And, rollouts for Orlando, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Blue Ridge Mountains area of North Carolina are on the agenda for the summer.
So, what's the big deal?
Smart Destinations claims that Go Select is the first mobile and print-at-home attractions pass, with no need to use a card or to redeem a voucher.
Smart Destinations' existing products, Go City Cards and Explorer Passes, support more than 500 attractions in 14 destinations in the U.S. and Toronto, but for these products you need a card to gain admission. You must insert the card into one of the more than 1,000 Smart Destinations' terminals at partner attractions.
After purchasing the passes, the company either mails you the card before travel or you have to print a voucher and retrieve a card at a pickup location, where there can sometimes be a waiting line.
But, with the new Go Select pass, you purchase it online and get emailed print-at-home passes in a PDF file or mobile barcodes on your smartphone, both of which can be scanned at the terminal at the attraction.
Smart Destinations is in the process of fitting each terminal with hardware to read the scans.
This is all part of the Smart Destinations' emerging mobile strategy, says Cecilia Dahl, founder and president.
"There's nothing to pick up and no physical pass," Dahl says, referring to the new Go Select pass.
The company isn't heavily promoting the mobile barcodes yet because it is in the process of training staff at the attractions.
In the next stage of the mobile rollout, Smart Destinations plans on optimizing its website for transactions via mobile browsers and then introducing a mobile app, which would facilitate post-purchase engagement.
For example, with the mobile app, travelers would be able to add attractions in-destination after the initial purchase and opt-in to receive targeted deals, the company says.
The company's goal with Go Select is for a "secure, seamless, paperless processing and payment" system.
The Go Select passes are different than the company's existing Go City Cards and the Explorer Pass.
With Go Select, travelers can customize their pass and merely purchase admission for the attractions they know they are going to visit so they'll be able to calculate their precise savings up-front, the company says.
For example, with Go Select you have the option of selecting a pre-built package of six attractions, ranging from the Empire State Building to the Statue of Liberty, or you can pick just two if you want.
With the attractions' segment considered part of the long-tail of travel and most of it off line, how does Smart Destinations, founded in 2003, facilitate transactions?
The company says the terminals it installs at the attractions are wired into Smart Destinations. They already support the original card-based Go City Card and Explorer passes and now are being upgraded to handle the Go Select paper and mobile bar codes.
When travelers use their cards or bar codes at the terminals, the transaction pings the Smart Destinations database. And, the company compensates its partners on a monthly basis.
Smart Destinations also offers a Web-based tracking and reporting system, enabling restaurants, museums, tour operators and theme parks to analyze demographic data about their Smart Destinations customers.
Smart Destinations says its ticketing system has handled more than 4.5 million visits.
In addition to its own channels, Smart Destinations' passes are distributed via partners such as Expedia and Viator.