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Orlando’s augmented reality app acts as mobile concierge for deal-seekers

The city of Orlando, FL, is the latest to roll out a new tourism-centric application that allows guests to purchase discount tickets to theme parks and leverage augmented reality to preview local attractions, highlighting mobile’s sales-driving potency for major travel destinations.

The new Visit Orlando app, which is available for iOS and Android devices, uses IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence technology to serve personalized recommendations to travelers throughout their trips. Consumers can also take advantage of the app’s augmented reality features to learn about various dining and entertainment options in their areas as well as earn savings by participating in an interactive selfie scavenger hunt.

“This new app makes the consumer’s shopping process more convenient, immediate, simple and, most of all, more personalized,” said George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. “The app’s advanced level of cognitive computing allows us to help visitors truly maximize their Orlando vacation, as it seamlessly analyzes the countless experiences available within our destination and then tailors recommendations that best fit their individual needs and interests.

“This helps us not only market the destination in a fresh way, it also delivers a real solution to consumers that is personally meaningful.”

Tailored travel recommendations
The popular Floridian travel destination rolled out the beta launch of its Visit Orlando app last week with the intent of providing visitors with innovative vacation experiences thanks to WayBlazer’s IBM Watson-enabled technology.

WayBlazer, a cognitive travel platform created to deliver AI experiences to the travel sector, combines IBM Watson with its proprietary cognitive computing technology to analyze triggers from a user’s search before showcasing customized travel and hotel recommendations.

The Visit Orlando app uses Watson’s artificial intelligence platform to interact with users via conversational language and offer them customized itinerary suggestions based on their preferences.

Individuals can kick off their experiences by typing or speaking a question into their smartphone. The app leverages Watson’s Alchemy Language and Natural Language Classifier services to facilitate the personalized interaction.

The app will filter various options based on specific factors, such as the time of day, weather, location and user’s interests. It will then refine final suggestions by applying data from sources including expert blogs, media stories and third-party travel platforms such as TripAdvisor.

Users can ask the app to recommend places featuring scenic views of Orlando and top eateries with live music, among other requests.

Thanks to WayBlazer’s Watson-enabled machine learning capabilities, Visit Orlando will continuously learn about users the more frequently they use the app.

The app was developed by Visit Orlando, Central Florida’s official tourism organization.

Interactive in-app experiences
Consumers can also purchase discount tickets to Orlando’s theme parks within the app, as well as speak directly with an Orlando Destination Specialist regarding more specific requests.

Additionally, the Visit Orlando app boasts augmented reality features to entertain and help travelers maximize their on-site experiences.

Individuals can participate in an interactive selfie scavenger hunt, which enables them to collect savings and rewards in exchange for taking selfies at various locations. Rewards include discounts, Orlando-themed filters and a 3D virtual photo cube featuring all of the selfies taken throughout the trip.

Other Orlando deals can be unlocked by searching for and capturing magical orbs that will pop up in certain destinations through an augmented reality feature. Users can snap a photo of these orbs for a chance to enter a sweepstakes.

Lastly, the app includes augmented reality “around me” functionalities, which let travelers learn more about nearby entertainment and dining options through the app by adding an AR-powered overlay onto their smartphone cameras’ view.

A slew of other destinations have also implemented augmented reality into their apps in an attempt to boost tourism.

Last winter, the city of Palm Springs, CA, brought augmented reality to the oasis in the form of a mobile app boasting interactive maps, geospatial search and information regarding must-see tourist spots (see story).

Meanwhile, several months ago, USA Today Network’s content studio powered an interactive, mobile-optimized map that showcased Tourism Australia’s virtual reality and 360-degree experiences within the publisher’s app, underscoring media’s interest in mastering augmented reality content (see story).

However, Visit Orlando’s inclusion of both AI and AR technologies places it a notch above the rest.

“The ability to provide relevant and personal experiences separates businesses and apps from the thousands that compete for our attention every day,” said Jeff Hasen, founder of Gotta Mobilize and author of The Art of Mobile Persuasion.

“Artificial intelligence has its place, but so, too, does the human touch,” he said. “The combination of machine learning and human interaction and decision-making is in the early stages, and we and the machines will certainly learn more that will make this even more valuable in the years to come.”