Mobile 2010: ‘Cost prevents progress,’ says Lastminute

Lastminute.com expects the big growth in mobile internet to come from offering customers the information and ability to make nontransactional reservations while they are in destination.


Unlike other OTAs, lastminute.com has a large lifestyle business selling anything from theatre and concert tickets to spa reservations and restaurant bookings.


Marco Balabanovic, head of innovation, said the one thing holding back progress in mobile use in this area was the high cost to the consumer. To get around this, lastminute.com customers can download information before they travel.


But Balabanovic said: “We would like to offer more information to people who are actually travelling and still in the destination – but it is still the case that it is very expensive to access mobile internet when you are roaming.”


Lastminute.com has dipped a toe into augmented reality with Nru, but Balabanovic believes for this technology to really take off it has to offer lots of content and the ability to book.


He said: “What you find when you are building this sort of new technology is that there is a lot of excitement – but once you get used to using it you need a bit more than that. Get beyond the hype – it’s about how usable it is.”


Balabanovic said this was something meta-search giant Kayak found in the US when it launched its iPhone app. Sending browsers to another website to book was not a good user experience, so Kayak added a booking engine – an example of how getting into mobile had changed an entire business model.


Lastminute.com believes today the most promising application for mobile is non-transactional bookings, such as restaurant tables when the customer completes the transaction at the point of sale.


“When you get involved with anything to do with tickets or data moving round it’s just not fast enough. Maybe we do not need to get involved in that part of
the process,” he said.


 


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