The advent of mobile travel applications for smart phones and iPhone apps is obviously an exciting new direction for travellers and the tourism industry. But how far off is it before it becomes a key way to book and pay for travel?
At present, like the early days of the internet, most of the applications are content focused brochures rather than booking tools. Many will link you to mobile versions of booking websites that allow you to book but overall the interface for many of these is still cumbersome to use.
Tripadvisor has recently launched their new iPhone to include links to book accommodation online through their OTA (online travel agent) booking partners websites rather than trying to come up with a complete solution.
This article on tnoonz (Talking Travel Tech) “Isango starts work on mobile destination app” highlights the issues over product payments for mobile apps. The key concern being that with last minute bookings, which are most likely on a mobile device, there is a need to ensure real time availability is accurate in the last minute period (particularly if made with 48 hours of arrival) rather than a simple email confirmation process with accommodation properties.
No doubt many different solutions are being developed and the gap in the travel market to deliver an effective mobile booking and payment solution for mobile devices is being worked on. According to this article on m-Travel.com “Start-up works on new enterprise mobile platform for hotel reservations“.
The start up named is “TripCraft” and they promote themselves as “the industry’s first enterprise-level mobile application… No more cumbersome mobile browser-based experiences. TripCraft combines the speed and efficiency of a native app with the ability to pull in dynamic content in real-time.” Their application allows connection to reservations systems to book in real time with the ability to modify and cancel bookings.
At this stage TripCraft is a solution for hoteliers rather than online travel agents, but initiatives such as the Open travel Alliance will be key to standardising ways for the industry to achieve true real time availability distribution no matter what the platform.
No doubt, for accommodation providers, providing your own application for mobile bookings will be a key way to ensure repeat business with your regular and business travellers making it easy for them to book with you no matter where and when.