WITH the burgeoning use of smartphones and tablets as well as the proliferation of 3G coverage, mobile will pave the way forward for the travel industry, according to technology and hospitality experts speaking at the No Vacancy Southeast Asia 2013 conference in Bangkok.
Bambos Kaisharis, Google’s industry head of travel for South-east Asia, said: “Mobile searches have overtaken desktop searches in many parts of Asia, especially in (South) Korea, Japan and Indonesia.”
However, he pointed out that mobile still had much growth potential in the region, saying: “In Asia, only one-quarter of bookings are made online, versus 50 per cent in the US.”
Tomas Laboutka, CEO and co-founder of last-minute booking app HotelQuickly, agrees that the travel landscape has seen a “shift to mobile”.
“Forty-eight per cent of travel planning are conducted via mobile in Asia-Pacific…Mobile has massive growth ahead, especially among affluent, spontaneous travellers, flashpackers and staycationers in Asia,” he added.
Given that 65 per cent of affluent travellers are undecided when they begin a search process, Google’s Kaisharis urged travel websites to enhance the mobile experience.
“We no longer talk about ‘why mobile’, but ‘how mobile’…Offering the right experience on the right platform makes the difference,” he explained.
Good design is therefore vital for the mobile experience, pointed out Anthony Green, digital director, QUO Global.
He urged hoteliers to adopt user-friendly booking engines, to ensure websites are designed to suit all platforms, and to invest in content delivery network to enhance user experiences.