A joint venture between Spark and JUCY has produced a new app that will allow the New Zealand tourism industry to reach visitors in real time as they approach local tourist attractions.

The technology will be installed in thousands of rental cars around the country and overseas. The technology, which was developed by Auckland company Skoot, will allow businesses to market directly to tourists planning the next stage of their itinerary. Tourists can download Skoot as a Smartphone app or use it when mounted in their rental vehicle.

The app has a range of functions including onboard GPS navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot, safety messages and details on local activities and accommodation options supplied in real time as the user draws near to their destination. The app will allow travelers to make purchases on a stored credit card on their own Smartphone. The app is also equipped with a built-in audio tour guide which recognises the user’s location and broadcasts information on over 1600 local tourist attractions automatically.

“Throughout their journey, Skoot is designed to keep tourists engaged with both local information and relevant promotions - served by audio and digital display feeds,” Skoot CEO Hayden Braddock said.

He said there has already been significant interest in the new technology, which has more than 600 businesses already part of the Skoot eco-system.

“Each business on Skoot will effectively have control over their own application which is able to be accessed and used within the Skoot application or on its own in the APP Store. The retailer gets the benefit of being able to create and manage their own app and content in real time, update deals, products, info, branding etc. Tourists will only have to download the one app when they travel around. We believe this is first time this has been done,” Braddock said.

When installed in a rental vehicle, the device will be connected over its nationwide 4G network and allows up to five other devices to use the Wi-Fi hotspot. In the future the app will also offer a click to call function using VoIP where tourists can free-call local attractions to book. In a recent trial, the Skoot app was uploaded to Samsung tablets which were installed in the JUCY fleet.

The new app is also designed to help improve tourism road safety with a unique set of features to help visitors navigate New Zealand roads and conditions. Braddock said future generations of the device will offer more benefits to their business partners.

Businesses will also be able to vary their offers based on a range of variables such as seasonal factors, proximity to the attraction, the direction the traveler is moving, and even serve deals based on specific tourist demographics. This information will help inform Skoot partners, allowing them to improve their business model when targeting existing and emerging tourist segments.