Facebook instead of postcards

Wednesday 5, January 2011


Facebook instead of postcards


ITB World Travel Trends Report predicts that social networks will have a massive influence on travel and booking behaviour – Mobile services continue to expand – New display and payment models to boost sales.


Social networks are not only influencing the way that people obtain information and make their bookings in advance of a journey, but also provide an important channel for communications during the trip. Facebook and other social media are used during their trips by 37 per cent of international travellers in order to keep their friends and those at home informed, or to post photos online before their return. In order not to restrict this development it is important that the costs of using mobile devices abroad are easily understood, and solutions must also be found to the problem of roaming tariffs.


This was the conclusion drawn by the ITB World Travel Trends Report, based on extracts from the European Travel Monitor and estimates by more than 50 tourism experts and researchers from around the world. IPK International was commissioned by Messe Berlin to compile this report.


Over the next few years social networks will become an everyday form of communication and will be widely accepted for the purposes of making reservations. Already 52 per cent of the 152 million adult vacationers in the USA are using social networks in order to discuss their next intended destination with friends, or to obtain direct information from travel companies. However, two factors will apply if tourism companies are to continue to develop their use of social networks: credibility and reliability. At the present time traditional channels such as friends and acquaintances, travel catalogues and other media are still more trusted than social media.


“Mobile devices such as the iPhone are revolutionizing the travel market and are creating new openings for our industry. Now we must endeavour to make best use of this technology and to continue to develop it, because improved information and booking facilities definitely help to increase sales”, states Dr. Martin Buck, Director of the Competence Centre Travel and Logistics of Messe Berlin.


For example, in Japan Smartphones are already being used to make reservations for 20 per cent of domestic flights.


The market will continue to expand as a result of the introduction of new mobile services such as “Augmented Reality“ and various other applications. In order to be able to address the widest possible target groups companies should offer applications for all current Smartphone models and should also encourage the development of mobile websites, according to the tourism experts attending the World Travel Monitor Forum. Real time information is another area with scope for expansion, for example, offering the fastest means of alerting travellers to altered flight times.


Another vital factor for the continued growth of the E-travel sector is the development of innovative display systems and payment methods. Apple is currently testing mobile advertising in the form of “iAds”, combining the emotional impact of television with the interactive properties of the internet. Mobile payment methods are another current trend, enabling purchases to be made using one’s own iPhone. However, high roaming charges are a continued obstacle to the use of Smartphones abroad. Although the European Union issued a “warning signal” with regard to charges in excess of 50 euros this year, so far such regulations have not been applied in countries such as the USA. ”The lack of simple and fair regulation of the worldwide use of Smartphones imposes massive obstacles to the use of online services while travelling”, says Dr. Martin Buck. ”This is one area where viable solutions must be applied as soon as possible.”



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