Have you heard of Near Field Communication (NFC)? If you haven’t, you’ll probably be hearing about it quite a bit in the near future.
What is NFC?
NFC allows smartphones to communicate via radio signals to other nearby NFC-enabled phones or devices. The key difference between this technology and pre-existing RFID technologies (think MasterCard’s PayPass program where you just wave your credit card over the pay terminal instead of making physical contact to complete your transaction) is that it can be a two way communication instead of one terminal being a “dumb” sender only (in the MasterCard scenario, that would be the credit card) and one terminal being the “receiver.”
The Rise of the Smartphone
With 48% of American households now owning a smartphone as of January 2012, and as more and more of the newer phones coming on the market become NFC-enabled, and as smartphones get cheaper, marketers would be smart to keep an eye on how to leverage this seamless technology for on site marketing opportunities.
Potential NFC Uses in Tourism
A few examples of practical applications of NFC in the field could potentially be:
- On site terminals that pass coupons on to the customer (near the product itself) and redemption at the POS all through the customer’s cell phone.
- Passing of events and business contact info directly to user’s calendars and address books respectively.
- Instantaneous payment transactions.
- Queuing applications for attractions and restaurants that automatically place you in the queue and update your wait time.
- Self guided tours with supplemental text, audio, and imagery being passed through NFC terminals in milliseconds.
What’s increasingly clear is that more and more users will be interacting with your online presence with a mobile device as their primary point of contact. Will you be ready to greet them not only prior to their visit to your location, but also while they’re on site?