Smartphones and Travel Plans

September 2, 2012

Many forecasters expected that widespread adoption of smartphones would lead to a boom in mobile-based travel purchases. Now, citing a new study from eMarketer, OnlineMediaDaily informs us that “Travel Research Trumps Bookings on Smartphones.” Hmm. All is not lost, though, for those who would capitalize on the confluence (Google, perhaps?) The article also tells us where and when travelers are truly relying on their phones.

It seems that folks are using their smartphones to research and plan their travel, but when it comes to purchasing, the desktop still reigns supreme. There are a couple of reasons for this. Perhaps most importantly, many people are still uncomfortable making financial transactions through thin air. The nature of travel planning also plays a part—it is more complicated than filling a virtual shopping cart and clicking “check out.”

There is financial opportunity at the other end of that first flight, however; hotels and airlines are now finding ways to capitalize on the situation. Writer Mark Walsh tells us:

“Beyond travel planning and booking, the report also looks at the role of mobile in transit and once people reach their destinations. This is where smartphones come into their own, serving as digital Swiss Army Knives for travelers eager for information about their flights, car rentals, nearby restaurants, and checking into hotels. All that activity opens up new opportunities for travel marketers.

“Almost all travelers take their mobile devices with them, and 80% said they used them all the time while away, according to a Mobile Insights study this year, cited by eMarketer.”

And that is why Google will be buying more travel content. It is not search; maybe it can be considered search and proprietary content. Whatever they call it, Google is sure to find a way to tap into this revenue stream.

Cynthia Murrell,September 02, 2012

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