Travel’s techie revo­lu­tion

Finweek English Edition - - INSIDE -

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.

Emil­ian Popa

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