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Resort iPhone Apps: One Simple Step Can Be a Major Mistake

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Treeline Interactive makes a lot of cool apps for a lot of cool resorts including those based on their Trail Tap platform. One key difference between them and many other platforms is that when a resort submits an app to Apple for the iPhone, they do it in the resort’s name, not Treeline’s. When Treeline’s fearless leader, Jake Fields, got in touch with me recently about some new stuff they have in the pipeline, this topic came up and I took the chance to ask him a few questions about the pros and cons of each, and why they took the route they did:

Gregg: First, quickly outline the app approval / submission process.
Jake: The app approval process with Apple has become pretty infamous, but most people don’t know a lot of the details beyond ‘it could takes weeks to get approved’ or to be generally scared of the risk of rejection. I would say that this is fair to a certain degree but Apple’s stance is pretty well know and well calculated. The process has also evolved over the years and has become much better.

So for the basic process..

  1. To submit and app to the store you must have a registered account with apple ($99 a year) this account is connected to a business or individual.
  2. Once you have an account and your app is all done, the app must be created with with your account details in a process called ‘provisioning’ this just basically signs the app to say its yours. Apple does this for security reasons so people can just post any app without being accountable and without apple having some control of the marketplace.
  3. The next step is uploading the application to the store. Many people ask, ‘do I host my application on my server?’ no, Apple ‘hosts’ all applications. At this point you will also enter in all your description and marketing materials.
  4. The last step is to just tell Apple the app is ready and ask them to review.

That is pretty much the process, skipping over many geeky details and assuming you don’t get rejected, which is probably a while other blog post in itself.

Gregg: Why do we see some apps published under agency’s account?
Jake: That’s a great question, and one that has concerned me as it has been overlooked by many resorts that already have apps. I believe the main reason is probably convenience, the developer or company already has a account so it is easier to ‘just post it up’ for you. Another reason could be that the developer wants to have more applications posted under their name to help market their business. And the last reason would be a little more controlling and manipulative which I’m gonna breeze over as i think people are genuinely good in our industry.

Gregg: Are there any benefits to that?
Jake: There are no real benefits to having your app under another companies name. Maybe if your developer was also the creator of angry birds you could get some extra downloads but otherwise I’d love to have someone point out some other advantages. It’s not a perfect analogy but the implications are similar, would you let some other company own your domain name?

Gregg: What are the benefits of publishing under your own account?
Jake: Publishing under your account gives direct control of you app in the marketplace. It allows the application to be viewed by potential downloads as legitimate because it comes from you, not Joe Shmoe Inc. Also, if you part ways with Shmoe and company, you can still manage your app and potentially replace it without losing all your users.

Gregg:Is this something they can change for current apps?
Jake: No, currently Apple does not offer any way to transfer application ‘ownership’ from one company to another. Your users are tied to that app account. If you have your app code, you would have to kill the old app and you could then upload the code to your account but in the process you lose the ability to communicate with, and push updates to your existing tens of thousands of user; you are STARTING FROM SCRATCH.

I just hate to see marketing efforts and trusted relationships, which is what an app download is, get crushed because people don’t understand the details. I actually saw a worse case this past year where a resort was had an app under their own name, management handed down a platform shift and the new provider required the app to be published in their account. One year of marketing and 30k users down the drain. Remember that old app doesn’t get replaced or deleted, it still exists on peoples phones and that is what they know of your app and brand.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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