Wednesday, August 08, 2007

AA Guides to London

Travellers to London can now find their way around town using the new AA Smart Travel Guide which comes on a memory card and can be played on a mobile phone. It offers users a comprehensive guide to the city, including mapping, information on points of interest and things to do, guides to restaurants and hotels with ratings, and last minute travel advice.

The Guide has been developed by the AA with Ordnance Survey for use on Symbian S60 smartphones, such as the Nseries from Nokia and can be used as a standalone guide or with a GPS receiver (either external or built into the handset) to pinpoint users' locations.

The AA Smart Travel Guide: London is available now for £24.99 from Stanfords and WHSmith Travel Stores, with wider availability from September. The AA has lined up a further 12 European city Smart Travel Guides plus one for New York, which will be released by spring 2008.

The development certainly moves the travel digital agenda forward and combines two major travel / map brands – the AA and Ordnance Survey. The distribution and price is questionable. It may be more convenient than having the book but is it as rich? Will the user simply use Google maps via a 3G phone to achieve much the same at a fraction of the cost? Will the memory cards be upgradeable, or would you need to buy a new one next year? Why restrict distribution to WHS and Standfords? Suely this should be sold through mobile shops, PC outlets, on the web, newsagents and tourists shops. Merely putting it in bookshops, albeit travel bookshops, may not be the best way to gauge market response.