Second part in my three part “Predictions for 2012” post. Part 1 the promise of recovery is here
Part 2- The Promise of the mobile web
The Good news – mobile is DONE in major markets
The mobile internet is effectively ubiquitous in the major online markets of the world. The stats on iPhone, android, blackberry and Windows mobile phones tell a story of enough smart phones in pockets to drive the promised 10% of online travel business that was mentioned at conferences throughout 2010 and ‘11.
We also know that mobile no longer means on the move. Studies show that people are sitting in-front of their televisions, eschewing their laptops for tablets and smartphones as a means of consuming multiple forms of content simultaneously. This is great news for travel content companies (all types such as TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet and Travelfish). With smart phone customers are looking for the mobile to fill in the scores of daily “gap moments”. Those brief periods of time when nothing is happening and pockets of boredom set in such as commuting, television advertisement breaks, waiting for a food order etc. The default for people in that moment is to pick up the phone and start surfing. Smart travel content companies will take advantage.
Expect to see content companies devoting more energy to mobile through even more apps (if that is possible). Also expect to see content broken up into more and more chunks or small pieces and quick reads. This is so that content can be in short enough forms to meet the small amounts of time that are available during the “gap moments”.
[for more on this keep a regular watch on Norm Rose’s site TravelTechnology – here is a great recent post on mobile including an well crafted infographic]
The Bad news – mobile will help intermediaries over suppliers
The back half of the 2000s/naughties in online travel was dominated by hotels and airlines clawing back online share from online travel agents. Particularly airlines and chain hotels.
Intermediaries have an advantage in mobile as it is much harder to look at more than one screen. Customers are looking on mobile for one app or site to provide the answer. This favours the intermediaries. Expect to see the intermediaries run hard with this by launching more and more sophisticated apps and upgrading them regularly. Expect to see suppliers spend lots of money trying to figure out what to do to regain share. They will look at better booking apps for searching and booking. They will also spend money on apps and services for on-property activity, They will try new (maybe recycled) business models including ideas like RoomKey. And – they will try to launch content and destination business. Unfortunately for them a lot of that money will be wasted. As the mobile web is now and will be through all of 2012 there is a natural advantage for intermediaries. Barring a mobile web technology or platform shift, suppliers are going to need to innovate unlike they ever have before to maintain their web based share in the mobile web.