Mobile should be about delivering valuable experiences, says Mike Atherton

It’s no surprise to hear that the travel industry has been slow to embrace mobile and online technologies.

But, this is not helped by the fact that the mobile market, its handset vendors, network operators and most service providers still have a long way to go before the penny really drops – yes, it is in fact ‘ordinary’ people that use mobile products and services, not just techies and engineers.

While the Apple iPhone is amazing and the Google Android operating system will be great, the majority of the mobile market is still concentrating on a single service experience for consumers, an experience that will convert the masses to use their products and services exclusively.

This is missing the point somewhat. 

Each individual experiences different situations throughout the course of a day and mobile services need to reflect this.

In the travel market a big fuss is made about being able to check in on your mobile, access timetables and find out destination information.

This is undoubtedly a useful service, but it still requires the customer to enter data, navigate screens and work hard to access the information they are looking for.

From the consumer’s point of view, who has spent a considerable amount of time and money booking their holiday, why should they then have to spend even more time re-entering data that they’ve already provided?

The problem is that most travel industry mobile services address a single part of the customer journey. They haven’t been designed with the ‘I’m going on a trip’ mindset that a customer posseses.

Holidaymakers and business travellers are looking for a personalised, end-to-end service. For example, why does someone want to be told what gate to go to if they are stuck in traffic on the motorway?

The challenge now is to use mobile to help deliver memorable travel experiences. This requires a combination of technologies: basic messaging, mobile web, downloads and intelligent back end systems that manage content based on time, location and context, exploiting the knowledge locked away in the booking data.

But, this should all be transparent to the customer, so rather than having to search for the information, the service ‘just happens’.

It’s simple, easy and relevant to the consumer.


Mike Atherton is managing director of Mantic Point

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