Monday, November 23, 2009

More People Using Mobile Apps for Travel

More People Using Mobile Apps for Travel Solutions

These days, travelers of all ages are using their mobile devices for everything from flight notification to check-in. And many of them are even willing to accept advertising with free apps, or so says a study conducted by the Sabre Travel Network, the world's leading provider of high-performance travel industry solutions. The global mobile survey of 800 corporate and leisure travelers from North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific covered a broad range of topis from fees for apps to preferred features. Here's a look at what they found:

69% of the travelers surveyed owned a smartphone, with North Americans being most likely to own one (78%) and Asian Pacific travelers being least likely (46%). Most of the smartphone owners used their phone for email and about half used it for internet purposes. While younger generations are usually thought of as the ones to keep up with trendy technology, the survey found that nearly half, or about 47% of smartphone-owning travelers are 40-years-old or older, proving that theory wrong.

Both corporate and leisure travelers showed that they were often using their phones for getting relevant travel information in a timely manner. According to Greg Webb, the chief marketing officer of Sabre Holdings, smartphones are actually the preferred way to get information and he sees a huge opportunity for the travel industry, "This trend has seemingly penetrated all ages across all continents, highlighting the tremendous opportunity for travel agencies and suppliers to leverage mobile solutions to demonstrate value to their customers and creatively reach target audiences."

The study found that 63% of travelers are open to automating reaccommodation services and checking in and out of hotels with their mobile phones and 61% are willing to to use their phones to book flights. The travel booking company Travelocity validated this response by saying they've seen a large increase in the number of bookings coming from mobile devices in recent months. Of the various groups surveyed, Europeans seemed more open to using new mobile technology for these activities.

All travelers said they were willing to compromise some advertising for free travel apps. 28% of frequent travelers and 22% of leisure travelers said they actually preferred the free apps. However, in Europe, only 14% of travelers preferred the free apps.

"There's been a lot of experimentation with pay-for-services in the past," Webb said in a statement. "With advertising emerging as a more palatable choice for travelers, application providers and retailers now have a way of monetizing their offering and driving more value out of a potentially lucrative marketing channel." He also asserted that Sabre is committed to helping the travel industry "advance their mobile strategies" and next year, the company plans to increased mobile investments to, "continue growing our award-winning portfolio of mobile solutions for both agency and airline customers."

Sabre's recent launch of the mobile app TripCase for iPhone and Blackberry has been downloaded tens of thousands of times and was nominated for a "Innovator of the Year" nomination by PhoCusWright and was named "Best Travel App" by Business Week. Their Virtually There itinerary service is used by over 30,000 travel agencies around the world.

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