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70pc of smartphone owners plan travel via mobile: Paradigm

A new study found that 70 percent of smartphone users take advantage of their mobile devices for travel services.

According to the Paradigm Sample report, the main travel features that smartphone users are interested in are day-of-departure services, such as flight status, mobile check-in, mobile boarding passes and seat assignments. However, many consumers are not aware of all the different mobile features available for travel, as two of the top three “desired” mobile travel features were already offered by a number of airlines.

“We indicated that some airlines may need to spend more time communicating what they have available on the smartphone for customers to use and how they can gain access,” said Cyrus Deyhimi, chief marketing officer at Paradigm, Port Washington, NY. “The audience is there and ready to consume services.

“They know what they want when it comes to air, but the landscape is still wide open for other areas,” he said. “They need to be made aware of what can be done as things are built so that desires can turn into current uses and the next wave of innovation can be defined by understanding future desires.”

Paradigm’s MobilePulse research service was used to conduct this study.

Report findings
Commercial airlines are rolling out more mobile features intended to expedite the travel process and make going to the airport as easy as possible.

Airlines and other travel services have released offerings for mobile phones including mobile-optimized Web sites, flight check-in, flight status viewing, mobile alerts, mobile boarding passes and the ability to request upgrades via handhelds.

The study found that 39 percent of respondents selected air fare searches as one of their top three mobile uses for air travel.

Meanwhile, 19 percent of smartphone users identify ticket purchasing as one of their top three mobile uses for air travel.

In addition, 15 percent said they used their mobile phones for ancillary fee transactions such as checking additional bags and upgrading their seats.

“While customers wanted to use the smartphone for air, car, hotel and travel services, we did find that there was definite interest in mobile commerce as well,” Mr. Deyhimi said.

The report also found that consumers with higher incomes (more than $75,000 per year) and education levels (bachelor’s degrees or higher) were more interested in air travel-focused smartphone applications.

For example, these travelers would be interested in applications from specific air carriers.

These respondents were in line with a business traveler profile, per Paradigm.

By contrast, other respondents were more interested in general travel related applications, such as those offered by Orbitz or Expedia.

These respondents fell in line with a leisure travel profile.

Users with iPhones were interested in both air travel and general travel services.

End-to-end mobile travel planning
The travel industry has seen no shortage of mobile applications in recent months.

For example, American Airlines recently released an application for the iPhone that provides functionality at virtually every step of the travel planning process, including a flight booking feature (see story).

Additionally, third-party travel services, such as insurance provider Europ Assistance, released its Trip Organizer application for the iPhone last month (see story).

“The technology geniuses have done all the hard work for us and have laid out the platform – its infrastructure, operating systems, hardware and software – to let the imagination, unique business models and, most importantly, the customer experience define how travel services will be impacted in the next five years,” Mr. Deyhimi said. “The focus will be on the customer experience both real-time and location-based.

“On one side, these capabilities create the opportunity for a dramatically enhanced customer experience along with new revenue opportunities,” he said. “On the other side, they could they could have the opposite effect if misused as they open the doors to damage the relationship based on the type of interaction that travel service providers do and could lead to more stringent legislation and regulation. 

“The opportunity is for the end-to-end travel experience and transaction to happen over the mobile.”

Final Take
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York