Published on Monday, September 26, 2011
Yahoo! head of partnerships Guy Beresiner looks at mobile phone technology for the travel industry.
"The mobile landscape is breathtakingly complex. Handset manufacturers, service providers, platform suppliers, software producers all inter-relate and are individually challenged by rivals of a global scale. And it’s a landscape that is constantly changing, with industry behemoths embroiled in a war of attrition that holds billions of pounds at stake. At the heart of the war lies the relentless drive to innovate, to be the first to introduce the cutting edge technology that will change the game and shift the balance of power to its owner.
What sometimes seems lost in the fixation to invent breathtaking technology is the consumer. Surely a mistake, since however brilliant the technology, if the everyday consumer does not buy into it, it has no hope of survival.
What the consumer wants from their mobile experience is very simple to understand. Their mobile device is the most personal item they own, so above all consumers will increasingly expect it to perform to their unique, personal needs and provide solutions to their everyday problems and challenges.
At the TIQT that Yahoo! hosted earlier this week, the question of how the travel industry should employ mobile was debated. One of the early questions was, if the use of mobile for their life management was so pervasive, why were people not booking their travel on mobile devices more? What should the mobile product that travel companies offer look like so that it engages the traveller more into transacting with it?
It may not have been a popular suggestion, but mine was that maybe the consumer has no need for it. Booking a holiday may be a more engaging, exploring, shared process than any mobile device can offer in its current form. Successful mobile solutions don’t just solve a need, they must solve it better than by any other way. A solution that is personal, considerate of the device and relevant to the location and the time is necessary if a mobile application is to answer any kind of need that can’t otherwise be met.
There is no doubt mobile and its continually amazing technology has a role for travel. However companies should try and put themselves in the shoes of the traveller more to understand what that role should be, not try and force a product just because the technology is there to deliver it."
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The recent insolvency of Low Cost Travel Group, one of the large players in the travel industry had a big impact on the travelers, hotels and all related players from both wholesale & retail arms. There were about 27,000 people on a holiday who had booked through the company comprised of a €200 million wholesale arm and €500 million OTA / retail arm.