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02/02/11

The Case of Mobile Technology in Travel Landscape

Every application form we fill out will request for a Mobile number. In India you will not get a bank loan or a credit card if you do not have a mobile number. You need a mobile number to even obtain a gas connection.

Mobile phones have changed the fabric of society in most countries. Every walk of life has been altered. Students, hawkers, fishermen, corporators, priests and home makers all need a mobile phone. There are more mobile phones in India than computers, televisions and landline phones combined. India added 13.5 millionGSM connections in August 2010. That is 10% of the country’s entire population in 1 month!

And these phones are most valuable when you are travelling. Not only does it give you a means to be in touch with your associates; but it also empowers you to negotiate the vagaries of the travel experience.

With the advent of sophisticated technologies, the power of the instrument in your hand has scaled new heights. Given below are some of the key activities travelers can do on their phones.

At the Airport

  • Obtain Information:- Flight schedules, delays, Itinerary
  • Self Service:- Mobile check-In, meal bookings, itinerary changes, upgrades
  • Add-Ons:- Obtain discount coupons, last minute deals

At the Hotel

  • Self-Service: – Bookings, cancellation, reserve spa treatment, request for cab, check-out
  • Add-Ons:- mobile receipt, last minute deals, promotions, social networking at the hotel

With Fellow Travelers

Mobile Phones can help you harness the power of the community. Everyday issues like parking space, car-pooling, and driving conditions can be shared by fellow travelers live. TripCast helps you plan your trips and share it with friends. MySkyStatus lets your friends and family know where exactly in the skies you are when flying. Spotswitch, Spotscout and Google’s OpenSpot lets drivers share open car spots available. Wheels and Fareshare lets drivers carpool.

While a lot has been written and analyzed about Web 2.0; Mobile 2.0 is very much upon us. And Mobile 2.0 provides us with a lot more actionable information. Certainly this area is witnessing tremendous upheaval. Independent market research firms PhoCusWright and MobileBehavior focus on the travel industry analyzing the evolving dynamics of the mobile consumer.

Where is this going?

There are many more mobile applications coming up providing novel solutions to problems we did not know even existed. www.drivesafe.ly reads out SMS and emails while driving thereby increasing driver safety. Augmented Driving uses the iPhone’s camera to provide information on vehicles and lanes. It helps the driver be better informed while driving. But the ultimate application has got to be Exit Strategy. This lets Metro Commuters in New York City know which subway car to get in; so they can exit the station the quickest. One can see this becoming popular in every major International city with a subway system.

As disposable incomes rise in India, the demand for leisure travel will increase exponentially. We are also witnessing substantial investments in infrastructure. 10 years back a trip from Chennai to Bangalore had to be minutely planned. Driving would have been the last option during those days. Circa 2010, one can travel between the two cities on a whim. Combine this with the cheapest in the world Mobile charges and we are in for a deluge of Mobile applications and services. The applications listed above are but a trailer for what awaits the ‘Indian on the go’.

Technology has allowed us to forget information. We hardly remember anyone’s phone number these days. There will soon come a day when we go on a trip with no plans, no tickets and no directions, but only a mobile phone.

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