Travel Tech

Last week, at the World Tourism Forum in Lucerne, global leaders in travel, tourism and hospitality met to discuss current industry trends. During the three-day conference, which saw around 400 top-level international executives and experts from the public and private sector in attendance, a range of topics were discussed. Amongst these was a focus on mobile, media and merchandising – a brave new world. With mobile undoubtedly growing, leading figures from the industry reflected on this rising importance and discussed and questioned its value and ROI. (Travolution)

Challenges of mobile

Mobile is growing at a fast pace, but also entails a number of key challenges for tourism organisations. TripAdvisor has been operating in the mobile space for the last four years, and although they have an app for travellers to use, they struggle with getting people to use it regularly. Relating this to the wider industry, for destinations and tourism organisations it might therefore be more beneficial to get their websites mobile ready instead of offering mobile apps to travellers. However, the time users spend on mobile apps is longer than on mobile sites, so once travellers are actually using the apps they can be more beneficial for companies. Mobile optimisation can also be more difficult than one would expect due to the different devices, screen sizes and resolution. Currently, mobile ROI is poor.

Europe and mobile optimisation

The Digital Tourism Brand Index 2013 revealed that only 20% of tourist boards in Europe have developed mobile ready sites. This figure is quite low, particularly given that 45 European tourist boards were benchmarked. Contrastingly, 40% of tourist boards have a mobile app, showing that priorities for tourist boards in terms of technology adoption are different. This is quite interesting and shows there is still a digital divide between tourism destinations in terms of use and integration of the latest technologies.

Future developments

There is a difference between the usage patterns of mobile devices; most smartphone bookings are quite last minute, whereas the tablet looks likely to replace the computer in the future. Tablets are increasingly used to plan a holiday and to seek inspiration. In comparison, mobiles are increasingly used for bookings when travellers are in their destinations. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that travellers can access information they might need when in the destination. If this information is not mobile ready, sources other than the tourist board will be used. While mobile’s ROI is quite low at the moment, this may well change in the future!

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