Travel’s techie revolution
TRAVEL SHOWED record- setting growth despite economic and security concerns, according to the World Travel Market’s Global Trends Report for 2014. Travel and tourism “continues to prosper globally”, with arrivals reaching a record 1.1bn in 2013, up by 5.1%.
The report forecasts a further increase for 2014, estimated at 4.7%. Notably, online travel sales amounted to $590bn in 2013, making up 27% of total travel sales, while mobile bookings are expected to reach 35% of online travel bookings by 2018.
Travel is increasingly becoming an online affair. From basic Google searches for the best deals and destinations, to online booking functions and apps notifying travellers of gate changes, the i ndustry is undergoing its own fundamental transformation. MOBILE CENTRIC “Travel alone is the third-most popular topic for mobile apps, behind weather and news,” says Dean Bibb, VP Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa, at global travel technology company Sabre. “Today, these are mainly limited to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, but the opportunity for wearable apps in travel is significant − we can see uses for this for travellers, airlines, hotels and agencies.”
The airline Iberia, for one, has partnered with Samsung to develop a wearable boarding pass using an app that can be installed on Samsung’s Gear 2 and Gear Neo smartwatches. LOCAL PIONEERS “South Africa and Africa can pioneer new ways of serving travellers,” hee explains. “By taking note of keyy trends, South African industry leaders can get several steps ahead of f their foreign counterparts.”
Tourism Radio provides an apt t example of a team that was able e to do this. Founded in Cape Town i n 2005, Tourism Radio providess location-based technology as well ass travel content, with offices in SA, New w Zealand and Spain. Its patented geolocation audio guide technology is s currently used in bespoke in-car guide e devices, as well as in various mobile e travel guides on the iOS and Android platforms.
The company also develops White e Label travel app solutions and in-app p contextual marketing to destination marketing organisations ( DMOs), corporate clients looking to target t the travel i ndustry, and tourismrelated businesses.
“First Car Rental, for example, uses their White Label as a value- added product for their customers, of f ering f r ee t r avel guide appp downloads for people visiting South Africa who hire one of their vehicles,” explains Jonathan Meyer, content and community manager at Tourism Radio.
As more people find the means to satisfy their wanderlust, we can expect the sophistication of these types of apps to reach dizzy heights − along with skyrocketing demand.