emarketer.com reports that "Many
smartphone users are interested in apps that will help them on the go,
and (some) travel-related applications fit the bill." The site quotes compete, a web analytics company that claims to have the largest pool of online consumer-behavior data and the "only online competitive intelligence service that combines site and
search analytics" as saying that " four in
10 smartphone owners would find trip planning apps useful if they
notified them of schedule and rate changes, consolidated itineraries or
helped manage loyalty programs."
Based on what's out there, the foregoing may seem like a tall order but given the warp speed at which applications develop it may well be within reach before long. The article also quotes a hotel internet marketing firm HeBS as saying that "almost one-quarter of hoteliers worldwide are planning to develop an
iPhone app this year."
Meanwhile, industry heavyweight in the field of travel research Phocuswright, predicts that US
travelers will spend as much as $76 million on direct domestic hotel bookings
through a mobile device. That may well be true and even understate the potential but for most hoteliers, particularly independents "visibility" to ensure the apps are downloaded is one that is all fogged up. Apple's mobile app store does not afford any opportunity for advertising and it is unhelpful when more that three-fourths of sales are made from downloads on to smartphones.
The mobile app market is slated to exceed, by some estimates, $1.5
billion but getting noticed above the crowd is going to be a continually evolving process. Apart from obviously touting the app on the hotel's website, the way forward could include offering incentives for customers to book while on the move and talking about it online fora including blogs. Development costs for apps also vary considerably depending on the sophistication or not of the app.
The launch of Apple's iPad has also spawned a slew of new apps for the new platform. PC Magazine reports that even before the device has hit the street there are 22% of new projects done by app development firm Flurry had new apps geared towards the iPad. No hotel apps yet but that is unlikely to be the case for too long.