WTM, the premier travel show in the UK, just concluded with record attendance figures of over 45,000 from the industry alone. Among the thought trends of note from the tourism summit's Global Trends Report put out in association with Euromonitor was the prediction that smart phones are poised to take over from Google as the most powerful technological players in the European travel and tourism industry (it was not clear whether or not that threat to Google applies to the North American market or other parts of the world). The Trends report suggests that the growth in smartphone usage in Europe will result in an erosion of Google's seemingly unassailable search powerand will accrue to the benefit of smartphone developers and manufacturers.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper reporting on the trend notes the iPhone and the development of location-based applications are already revolutionising the travel industry, with smartphone penetration expected to reach 92 per cent in Europe by 2014. Earlier this year, the Gartner group had published reports which noted that worldwide sales of touchscreen mobile devices will exceed 362.7 million by the end of next month. The newspaper quotes website compete.com as saying that Smartphone Travel Usage Research from 2010 reveals 34 per cent used their mobile device to find travel information, 29 per cent to check reservations and 25 per cent to book accommodation.
Facebook too, unsurprisingly, is on to the smart(phone) trend by announcing a service that allows businesses to offer users deep discounts by usings its smartphone applcation.
Nevertheless, Smartphone technology is (not yet) without its risks. The Financial Times reports that certain Smartphone models running Google's Android operating system have security flaws that could allow hackers to steal personal information. Apparently, a UK researcher at a security conference showed that the web browser of an Android phone could be hacked leading to broad control over the phone.
Smartphone or not another Euromonitor analysis on Bloomberg warns of signs portending a decline in global travel next year with the volume of tourist arrivals worldwide slated to rise only 4 percent in 2011as compared to a 5 percent increase in 2010 over the previous year.