Singapore technological company Drop Positioning Systems has pioneered a connectivity service specially tailored to tour providers, with takers including JTB and local travel service provider Star Holiday Mart.
The Smart Tour Operator System is a mobile system for tour guides that aims to resolve connection issues faced by groups of tourists, which was one of the pain points expressed by tour operators, Drop’s director Laurence Lee told TTG Asia.
The system has four capabilities. Tourists will be able to connect to a Wi-Fi network created by a Portable Base Station provided to the tour guide. Unlike the typical 4G Wi-Fi portable modem, which can only connect up to 10 devices at the same time, the Base Station connects as many as 64 tourists.
Secondly, with compact tourist paging devices handed out to each tourist, the tour guide can track their locations with a real-time map on the tour guide’s portable device. This is enabled by in-built long-range radio (LoRa), and is not dependent on external networks.
Tour guides can also use a directional finder device to locate specific tour members indoors without relying on global positioning systems, which are often less effective indoors.
Lastly, the long-range LoRa also enables the guide to broadcast messages to each tour member within an urban range of two kilometres and non-urban range of eight kilometres. This technology does not rely on cellular signals or Wi-Fi, ensuring tourists remain contactable even in remote areas.
“The industry was sorely lacking in emergency communication solutions – a way around the incessant Wi-Fi requests and to communicate with tour participants when there were no local data communications – (and) even the customisation of an all-encompassing GPS map interface was not available. These were all the main gaps we felt we could fill,” shared Lee.
Drop will be adopted by Star Holiday Mart, and is currently in talks with other tourism players.
Lee revealed: “Most of the travel industry suffers from a huge inertial pull to stay steeped in their traditional ways. Most are not ready to push forth with technology. Price is also a factor. The challenge to convince is very real.
He added: “I sincerely hope our solution can act as a catalyst for tour operators to implement more tech into their business models, because traditionalism would alienate them from the younger tech-savvy generation, who definitely demand a lot more tech-relevant enhancements.”
Drop started out in the hotel industry with innovations in manpower savings and boosting workflow efficiency. Its hospitality products, including Smart Luggage Tracking and Automatic Inventory Management, were awarded grants by the Singapore Tourism Board and will be piloted in eight hotels.