An ever-increasing proportion of European smartphone owners are using applications – some 44% in May 2010 – with 64% of those who used a travel application having a smartphone. This growth, according to comScore, in all types of mobile application use offers an ever-broadening opportunity for the travel industry to engage with consumers in creative ways that deliver significant value.

Published: 20 Aug 2010

An ever-increasing proportion of European smartphone owners are using applications – some 44% in May 2010 – with 64% of those who used a travel application having a smartphone. This growth, according to comScore, in all types of mobile application use offers an ever-broadening opportunity for the travel industry to engage with consumers in creative ways that deliver significant value.

According to comScore, the growth in highly capable smartphones in the market has helped to drive consumer interaction with travel services via their mobile phones: whilst accounting for only 25% of the installed base of active phones in Europe, 54% of consumers accessing travel services did so from a smartphone in May 2010.

The number of European consumers accessing travel services via smartphones grew by 125% year-on-year to May 2010.

Recently, in an interview with EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta, Jeremy Copp, vice president, Mobile Europe, comScore, shared that around 26m European mobile users accessed maps on their device in May 2010, with the availability of free navigation systems fuelling a 100% year-on-year growth in this number. This increased use of mobile devices whilst travelling offers a growing opportunity for the travel industry to engage with consumers through their phones for marketing and to offer relevant, localised services.

“Our data shows that 9.8m Europeans accessed travel information via their mobile in May 2010, representing 4.3 percent of European mobile users. The most popular method of access is through mobile internet sites with nearly 60 percent (5.8m) engaging through their browser. The next most popular access method is through SMS followed by mobile applications; European consumers were almost 3 times as likely to accessed travel services via a browser, compared to an application. However, accessing travel sites via application is growing fastest of the three methods when compared to one year ago,” said Copp.

Overall, according to Copp, there is significant growth in the use of travel planning and booking services by European mobile users – usage of Lastminute.com and Expedia combined grew 96% year-on-year to May 2010 but still only accounted for 1.2% of all mobile consumers. This indicates that there is still considerable opportunity for expansion in services for travel planning and booking via mobile phones.

Trend

Facebook has unveiled its Facebook Places location-based check-in service this week.

The industry believes that this could be the turning point for location-based services (LBS) even though there are several players in the market already with similar offerings. With Facebook now stepping in the game can change dramatically.

Charel van Dam, online marketing director, Holland.com, who is scheduled to speak about location-enabled social networking and AR at the forthcoming two-day Online Marketing and Social Media Strategies for Travel Summit Europe 2010 (5-6, October) to be held in Prague, says, “I think location-based deals apps are a wonderful development and I think we’ll be seeing an explosion in the number and type of applications. It will be like turning a street into a supermarket isle. Roaming charges still remain a challenge for travellers, especially if you want to serve them up to date information.”

Panagiotis Arkoumaneas, CEO of Athens Tourism and Economic Development Company, says, “One thing is certain about Facebook, Twitter, or whatever new social media channel will appear in future (joining them or even replacing them): these channels will be accessed more and more from mobile browsers. And that is great news for the travel business as every piece of information will be accessed locally (think of Foursquare or Gowalla for example). As a consequence the travel business will have to adapt by becoming more open, more social and more local.”

The industry has seen the launch of an iPhone augmented reality application that uses the GPS to determine a user’s location and displays the nearest airports from which one can access great deals.

From an OTA’s perspective, Marko Balabanovic, head - Innovation, lastminute.com, says, “We’ve been at the forefront of these technologies: our nru (“near you”) application was one of the first augmented reality mobile applications available. This is both a fun way to discover things or see deals nearby and a useful tool to help people orient themselves in an unfamiliar city. We see it working best showing you deals that are very close, things you could walk to in a few minutes. Again, our Future of Free Time report has supported our insight that augmented reality is going to become an ever more integral part of making the most of our free time, for example aiming your phone camera at a restaurant to see whether they have tables available there and then.”

Location-relevant advertising

Location-relevant advertising, which uses location information technology to target end-users with relevant advertising on their mobile devices, continues to gain prominence. The fact that iconic brands are increasingly looking at this medium, both in terms of strategy and budgets, points out to the potential of this emerging opportunity. Some of the enticing benefits of such targeted marketing include relevant promotional offers, trying to catch consumers when they are in proximity of merchant storefronts, and also driving impulse store visits. Solutions in this arena harness location content and capabilities to pinpoint where consumers are, deliver ads and calls to action within a few feet of advertised points of purchase, and guide them to the merchant’s doorstep.

van Dam believes that top brands in the travel sector are increasingly looking at this medium, both in terms of strategy and budgets, points out to the potential of this emerging opportunity.

“I would think so, as should any new development. When it comes to location-based advertising I would say it depends on the brand and how much can be waged from someone’s location. A consumer’s location alone in most cases doesn’t say anything about what he/she wants or needs. The fact that I’m at an airport could just mean I’m there to pick up someone. Relevancy is key,” he said.

Balabanovic agrees and says location-relevant advertising is a great idea both for customers and for brands.

“We have a mobile app called snaffle that shows nearby offers and deals. It is an advertising model where instead of sending clicks we’re sending actual foot traffic to a retailer or venue. The interest has been really encouraging and we’re expanding it from a small trial in part of London to go across a lot of the UK,” shared Balabanovic.

Augmented Reality

One of the major benefits of AR which has emerged is related to visualising the city/ various attractions. Travellers can look through their smartphones all the tourist attractions in the area at a heightened, surreal view. Also, no Internet connection is required.

On how as a tourism board, his organisation has started embracing AR, van Dam said, “We’ve actually started to use AR as another way for consumers to get informed on what to do and see in Holland. We have a wealth of information that’s on our website, but instead of trying to get consumers to come to our site, we’re looking for ways to be where consumers are. For now, our AR Holland layer just displays which attractions and other tourism related points of interest are around you. However, that’s just first step. One of the avenues we’re currently exploring is to apply our knowledge of our product to connect different points around the tourist and create new experiences that cater to different needs of visitors.”

Online Marketing and Social Media Strategies for Travel Summit Europe 2010

EyeforTravel is scheduled conduct the forthcoming Online Marketing and Social Media Strategies for Travel Summit Europe 2010 (5-6, October) to be held in Prague.

For more information, click here

Or contact:
Gina Baillie
VP Global Marketing & Events
EyeforTravel
London, UK: +44 (0)207 375 7197
gina@eyefortravel.com

 
 
 

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