Travel is the benchmark for mobile

Iphone travel app pack
(image from Lifehacker)

An article at Tnooz from Jason Taylor, VP of platform strategy at Usablenet which outlines why the travel industry has found itself as the benchmark for mobile with early adopters among business travellers driving the overall market forward for other verticals. There’s quite a lot I would add but this exactly why I chose to work where I do!

To summarise:

Business travelers were one of the the first to rely on their mobile phones to access the Internet for productivity purposes, and importantly, this demographic was also the first that could afford smartphones – with companies subsidizing the cost of best-in-class mobile devices to keep their employees productive while on the road.

The reality of business travelers using the mobile web in large numbers resulted in travel companies being the first to optimize specifically for the channel – with airlines to hotels to all companies in the travel ecosystem devoting significant resources to develop mobile sites and apps.

Some milestones:

1. Mobile commerce – in 2006 Amtrak became the first travel company to launch an optimized mobile site that offered transactions to all Internet-enabled mobile devices.

2. Reaching a global mobile audience – in 2007 Northwest Airlines became the first truly international mobile site by introducing support of 13 Asian languages.

3. Leveraging mobile apps for increased brand loyalty – In the hotel industry, Omni Hotels was the first to offer mobile applications for the iPhone and BlackBerry – recognizing the need for dedicated native apps on the major mobile platforms.

4. Location-aware features enhance the mobile travel experience – in 2011 Expedia was among the first to incorporate location-aware features into its optimized mobile site by leveraging new HTML5 technologies – allowing features like push notifications to be more easily accessible to the traveler.
Also Expedia is innovating in location and mobile is by leveraging the smartphone’s internal GPS to offer travelers the ability to search for hotels with same day vacancies near their physical location.

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