Mobile web offers more potential for travel companies of all sizes while applications are ‘the icing on the cake’ according to an e-commerce boss.
Speaking at the Travel Technology Initiative’s Innovation Summit earlier this week, Virgin Atlantic’s acting head of e-business Fergus Boyd said mobile web would be the bigger market and is seen by many as better value than applications.
“If you want penetration go for mobile internet because pretty much every smart phone has mobile browsing,” said Boyd.
However, TheTrainline.com’s product manager Tom Britton said that mobile phone companies are moving towards native applications as opposed to web browsing.
He said theTrainline.com had developed a mobile site but that for things like timetables and selling tickets it was quicker to have an application and get people to call to make a purchase because of the page load time on mobiles.
He also advised that building an application can be prohibitive to smaller companies.
“Don’t jump straight into an iPhone application. It’s only one side and quite expensive. There are three million iPhones and 30 million mobile phones.”
Britton said anyone developing an application must get users to the information they need within three steps or less and not worry about being flashy.
TheTrainline plans to launch the next phase of its application in October enabling the purchase of tickets. The company has also been approached by Nokia and Blackberry to develop versions of its iPhone application for their platforms.
Virgin Atlantic has already developed a number of applications including its Flying Without Fear and Jetlag services and more recently its Flight Tracker app.
The company also recently unveiled a mobile website enabling travellers to check-in, check flight status and schedules. The next phase will allow for integration with social media and eventually flight booking.