Mobile phone manufacturers are poised to take over from Google as the most powerful technological players in the European travel and tourism industry, reveals the WTM Global Trends Report yesterday (8 November).
The report, in association with Euromonitor international, predicts increasing smartphone penetration across Europe will drive a shift in power from search giants such as Google to smartphone developers and manufacturers.
Devices such as the iPhone and the development of location-based applications are already revolutionising the travel industry, with smartphone penetration expected to reach 92% in Europe by 2014, according to Ovum, and mobile web browsing set to overtake PC internet access in the same year.
The increasing importance of mobile is likely to displace giants such as Google as consumers increasingly view social media such as Facebook as a portal to access all their information as well as seek to access travel via purpose built applications.
Smartphone Travel Usage Research from 2010 reveals 34% used their mobile device to find travel information, 29% to check reservations and 25% to book accommodation according to compete.com.
In addition, the European Commission has promised action on high international roaming costs, seen as the biggest obstacle to the trend, if mobile networks do not take steps to bring down costs themselves.
World Travel Market Chairman Fiona Jeffery said: “The importance of mobile phones continues to grow as people use them not only to make calls but take pictures, browse the internet and increasingly for travel and tourism related mobile location-based applications.”
“This trend will only continue and, as the WTM Global Trends Report predicts, will see smartphone manufactures become more important to the industry than search engines as consumers search for travel related information in a different way.”
Euromonitor International Head of Global Travel and Tourism Research Caroline Bremner said: “By 2015, 50% of European travellers are forecast to use a smartphone to find travel information and/or make reservations. Mobile developers and manufacturers are well placed to get a slice of the pie.”