APAC Travel firms yet to explore huge mobile app potential

by Sohini Bagchi    Oct 04, 2013


Even though the adoption rates of smartphones and tablets across Asia Pacific has been phenomenal, mobile applications still remain an untapped opportunity within the travel industry in this region, according to a report by Abacus International.

The study that collated views of corporate travel companies and corporate travel agencies in Asia Pacific revealed that 83% of respondents believe that mobile technology has a significant impact on their business, but less than a third has implemented any mobile web or native applications.

Of those that implemented any applications especially for flight and hotel bookings through mobile, only 10% had the ability to make changes to existing arrangements. The tablet scenario is worse with only one in seven travel firms having created a specific app for tablet users.

The data clearly signifies that there is a disconnect between the perceived importance and actual provision of smartphone and tablet applications, observes Robert Bailey, CEO of Abacus International.

However, analysts note there is tremendous potential for growth and development of mobile apps in the travel and hospitality industry alone. A recent ABI Research also echoes the same sentiment as it predicts that mobile application downloads in the Asia Pacific region will reach 2.4 billion this year alone, with the majority of growth coming from sectors such as manufacturing, travel & hospitality and telecommunications.

However, Hari Nair, CEO and Founder, HolidayIQ.com, an online travel company, believes that Asia pacifictravel firms can tap the huge potential through mobile app localization, apart from being cost effective and user-friendly. Only when app developers start coming up with fully personalized mobile applications for the travel industry, including the presentation of content in multiple languages, the segment will start to see a huge growth.

“When a customer uses a company’s mobile app, his preferences are often logged and stored to provide better service for future use. For a travel company, this could mean ensuring automatic request fulfillment. Besides, a personalized mobile app also provides an opportunity to increase revenue owing to the ease of using one’s smartphone or tablet to complete in-app purchases and this should includes the use of local currency,” says Nair.

Bailey believes that with many travel companies in Asia Pacific already bringing innovation and customization of tools and content and are partnering with developers for specific mobile apps, they are well positioned to capitalize on these trends in the coming years.