Travel Round Table Summary

User experience will vastly improve in the travel sector in 2010 as the industry goes mobile according to January’s travel focus group. The advent of iPhone applications was suggested as a more immediate medium for travel offers and news with social media sites also encouraging more user-generated content. Ultimately, providing added value and inspiring brand loyalty was believed to help smaller companies compete in 2010, as well as enhancing user experience through faster loading websites.

Travel Sector Needs Mobile to Succeed in 2010

User experience will vastly improve in the travel sector in 2010 as the industry goes mobile according to a recent travel focus group.

With mobile internet devices on a trajectory to exceed one billion by 2013 (according to IDC’s Worldwide Digital Marketplace Model and Forecast), industry experts identified the advent of the iPhone, BlackBerry and Google Android as key facilitators in the sector’s growth.

Hoping to take advantage of the 450 million worldwide mobile users who accessed the Internet last year were our panellists:

Joel Brandon-Bravo, UK MD of Travelzoo,

Richard Nash, business director of CSI Media,

James Brooke, MD of Rooster,

Brian Povey, tourism project manager of The Mersey Partnership,

Lawrence Jones, MD of UKFast

Identifying user-generated content and social-media sites as new routes to market, the panel believed a focus on improving user experience would enable the industry to struggle out of recession.

James Brooke, MD of leading travel PR specialists Rooster, said, “The combination of the PC and the mobile is going to be huge in terms of the consumption of online information on the move. People are going to get much more comfortable with looking for theatre tickets or a last minute break this way.”

Although a welcome development for consumers, the new medium is also suspected to provide new challenges for the industry by significantly reducing lead times and changing existing booking patterns.

Brian Povey said, “People will now be working towards a 15 to 20 minute lead time because of the access to instant information rather than previously booking six months in advance.”

Following ebookers lead further advancements are also expected in the development of handset-friendly websites in the race to mobilise. However, with Joel Brandon-Bravo admitting that Travelzoo had identified 180,000 bugs in travel provider’s websites last year alone, the consensus was that many companies still faced an uphill struggle to improve the user experience of their existing websites first.

Richard Nash said, “If you’ve got a website that is taking 30 or even 10 seconds longer to bring back results for a like-for-like product you will find customers are going to go elsewhere. Everyone in travel is selling similar products so speed makes a huge difference.”

Lawrence Jones added, “In my opinion companies like CSI Media have allowed smaller companies to punch above their weight by making their websites faster and more accessible. We’re finding right across the internet that speed gives a better user experience and encourages more people to transact with you. The use of hand-held devices can only support this further.”

The round table discussions are held in association with UKFast with the aim of uniting business leaders to share advice and provide a wealth of ideas for other developing companies.

Duration: 3:5
Publisher: UKFast
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