Saturday, November 06, 2010

What if Your Smartphone Could Make All Your Travel Reservations for You?

business apps
Smartphones are amazing devices. They can be very convenient and do so many different things, but unfortunately, making your travel reservation is not one of them. Your smartphone will allow you to utilize it as a boarding pass, a hotel room key, a flight alert system, an itinerary manager, and many other things. The thing that it is not able to do is the booking aspect of the trip. This is partially due to the fact that it is very difficult to transfer the complex information of a business reservation to the small screen of a smartphone, along with some other complications. Despite these difficulties, tech suppliers say that they are working on providing some booking tools that would make the phone more than just an information delivery system.

“Mobile technology gives travelers information they need on the road. That's what it does well,” said Steven Mandelbaum, the senior director of information systems and travel buyer at The Advisory Board Co. "It does well in the logistics of travel once it's booked. Everything from the gate alerts to getting your itinerary, mobile technology works exceptionally well. It's well-baked, it's been out for a while, travelers use it, adoption is high on it and they like it.”

"There are a lot of products that provide information. That's the lowest-hanging fruit in terms of what a traveler might need or want,” said Sabre Holdings’ director of mobile strategy, Will Pinnell. About a year ago Sabre released a survey of 800 corporate travelers across the globe that showed that 72 percent of those polled used their smartphone for flight notification services, 68 percent for checking the weather, 67 percent for viewing their hotel location, and 64 percent for destination guides once they reached their destination.

Most of the uses on the list are information-based,” said Pinnell. “There weren't a lot of transactions. I think you'll see a shift as we conduct the survey again, probably early next year. You'll start to see the ability to purchase ancillaries and the ability to not just book a segment, but add to an existing segment, which is probably the more frequent use-case scenario on a mobile device.”

This is great news for business travelers. Being able to make travel reservations straight from your smartphone would be incredibly convenient. Corporate technology providers are saying that they all plan to expand their mobile functionality into the realm of transactions. Pinnell says that travelers should look for this “especially at Sabre, we are a global distribution system, and we're all about transactions. We have to enable that. That's our business and, regardless of where that transaction happens—through the Sabre Red workspace, through GetThere, through the agency—we have a variety of ways to do that, and mobile is just another channel.”

Of course there are plenty of complications that companies are going to have to deal with before all of this is possible, but it’s just exciting to hear about what should be coming up sometime in the near future. If the kinks can be worked out, having booking apps would definitely be something that business travelers would greatly appreciate and be able to use often. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they are perfected, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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