The mobile phone and tablet PC is redefining the way people are doing their research, planning and booking. India has a mobile subscriber base of 867 million. A study done by Ipsos for Google proves that 87 per cent of travellers used mobile phone to research their trips and 66 per cent booked a trip based on this. “The versatile use of mobile phones is pushing travel technology players to not only provide ticketing or destination research apps but a holistic technology that enables the traveller to research, get reviews; plan and book tickets at one go. The mobile device is further playing the role of a hospitality manager during the course of the journey,” says Vishwanath Alluri, founder and executive chairman, IMImobile.
IMImobile’s solutions for mobile travel space are powered by DaVinci Evolved Service Platform (ESP) and the DaVinci suite of products. DaVinci ESP is a unified and fully integrated platform that supports the creation, delivery and management of applications and services across mobile and social channels. “It enables us to offer solutions that leverage the full spectrum of mobile capabilities – SMS, MMS, USSD, OBD, IVR, missed calls, smartphone applications, mobile web portals, In-App Push Notifications to name a few,” states Alluri. IMImobile has worked with customers like American Airlines for which the company has developed a solution to allow their most loyal customers to get notified about the best travel deals. For the city of London, IMImobile has powered an app which was made available during London 2012 Olympics. IMImobile also recently powered National Rail Enquiries iPad app in UK to deliver a streamlined customer experience.
One of the concerns is the fact that most service providers have a fragmented approach to technology. Alluri believes that such a fragmented approach cannot result in a unified and seamless experience for customers. “Our DaVinci platform is designed from the ground up to orchestrate end user experience across multiple touch points,” he states.
Blue Star Infotech is offering two mobile applications for the travel and hospitality industry — Mobile Vacation Planner (MVP) and SmartRetreat. Douglas Gray, chief solutions officer, Blue Star Infotech, says, “Sites like HotelTonight are exclusively mobile app only platforms for booking last minute hotel stays. For younger travellers, WeHostels helps youth traveling abroad find great deals at hostels world-wide. Even online travel agencies, like Expedia, now offer a downloadable mobile app.” The MVP is a consumer-oriented travel planning app that enables travellers to access and explore rich travel content organised by geography and things to see and do. Gray informs that it also has option to read reviews, ratings and recommendations by other similar minded travellers to help them intelligently plan their next holiday or vacation. MVP deploys on the Apple iPad and provides graphical user interface that permits the user to specify their preferences to describe the type of travel experience they want to create.
SmartRetreat is a hotel concierge mobile tablet computer-based app that enables the hotel guest to serve themselves, for example, order room service, book a spa treatment or golf tee time, or explore the hotel amenities as well as the things to do and see in the hotel’s surrounding environs. “Hotel guests have the freedom to entertain themselves using SmartRetreat to watch movies or listen to music via their tablet, as well as set the hotel room environmental controls to their preference, including heating and air conditioning, TV, and lighting,” adds Gray. The target segment for MVP is travel service providers including travel agents and OTAs, hotels and resorts, cruise lines, vacation clubs, convention and visitors bureaus, etc. For SmartRetreat, the target segment is moderate to upscale hotels and resorts.
The most revolutionary trend that is emerging in the near future is the power of predictive analytics. Wi-Fi and GPS enables the collection of data on travellers to know about their behaviours and activities. “With this data, coupled with predictive analytics models and algorithms, it is possible to predict what the traveller may want at any given time and place, e.g., meal time in the entertainment and dining district, and make meaningful recommendations to the traveller to provide them with viable options,” states Gray, adding that, for service providers, the offers and promotions made to travellers have ten times greater likelihood of being acted upon when compared to offers that are not based on or supported by analytics.