Opinion is divided on how important mobile phones will be for travel. Whenever Travolution blogs on the subject there is plenty of feedback on all the reasons why they won’t be – handsets, networks, screen-size etc. And not that many on why it could, and probably will be.
The launch of SilverJet’s mobile service last week is the tip of the iceberg, and according to the airline’s technology partner, Mobile Travel Technologies, it has another low-cost airline deal in the pipeline.
Already in the US, the majority of large airlines offer mobile services, whether just as an information source and booking management tool or for bookings on the go. Research from Forrester shows more than one third of business travellers regularly use mobile Internet services for work and nearly half are asking their airlines for these kinds of services.
Admittedly, it’s easier in the US because of the proliferation of BlackBerrys and other PDA-type advices, but momentum is building here.
In other sectors of the industry, progress is already being made with companies such as Hotels4u.com developing a mobile platform and TUI signing a new five-year contract for destination information to be targeted at its holidaymakers via Travel Buddy.
Travel suppliers of all shapes and sizes hold a huge amount of untapped information on their traveller that could be used to great advantage – and that’s where it starts.
Go back 10 years and everyone said we would never book online; now it’s a question of when will we be able to book everything online.
It’s not a huge stretch of the imagination to extend that to mobile devices. We’re already using them to get information quickly and there’s a generation ready to do even more with mobile.
We hear that some people no longer read newspapers in traditional print format but, instead, download them to their mobile device.
So, will I soon be using my mobile phone, BlackBerry, iPod touch or other device to access my Facebook or WAYN profile, see what my friends are up to and make some travel plans?
Probably not yet – not unless I’m involved in a particularly close game of Scrabulous but I may soon check the weather, news headlines or look up some other pertinent destination information – or even check-in for a flight via a mobile phone. It’s all possible.
Linda Fox is lead reporter for Travolution