Published on Monday, September 26, 2011

TravelMole guest comment: What's the use of mobile phones?

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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  • It wasn't my survey...

    ...but sadly I can't immediately track down which it was. I thought it was O2 - but their site is innocent of the poll.

    By Richard English, Thursday, September 29, 2011

  • Ofcoms Stats on Mobile Phone Use

    I agree that the primary use of mobile phones is to make and receive calls, and that companies often jump straight to apps before looking at the potential of mass technologies on phones, like text. However, Ofcom's stats clearly state that 32% of mobile phone owners accessed internet services on their phone in Q1 2011. In addition, Ofcom found 50% of regular phone(non-smartphone) users send and receive texts every day (the figure is higher for smartphone users.) So a figure of 85% of mobile phone users only using their phones for making and receiving calls doesn't seem credible.

    By Ben Blackler, Tuesday, September 27, 2011

  • The main use for a mobile 'phone... making telephone calls. According to a recent survey, despite the confusing plethora of applications on even the most basic telephone, 85% of users use their 'phone only to make and receive calls. The next most popular use was not even into double figures.

    By Richard English, Tuesday, September 27, 2011

  • Analysis Over-Simplifies the Travel Booking Process

    To say that consumers have no need to book travel on their mobiles is taking too simplistic a view of the booking process. A mobile may be an inadequate device for the complex process of researching a holiday, but I can see mobile playing a part at initial enquiry (i.e. seeing an ad in the paper, scanning a QR code or going to a mobile campaign microsite to find out more) and at the actual booking end too (i.e. holiday decision made, just need to book it online). In both cases, the convenience of mobile over-rides it's physical limitations (small screen). Also, its ideal for simple, low price point transactions 'on the move'? Like business travellers looking for same day hotel stays while they're travelling. Don't forget also that we're still in the early days of mobile web adoption. Only 1/3 of the UK population have used mobile browsers to date (according to Ofcom). As adoption increases, so will consumers' expectations of the mobile web.

    By Ben Blackler, Monday, September 26, 2011

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