Travel planning on the go [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) JUST into the second week of 2014 and already feel like planning for holidays and getaways? Just whip out your tablets or smartphones and start looking for information on holiday destinations.
Mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular for travel planning and will soon bypass the use of desktop computers, says travel portal TripAdvisor. In fact, close to 40 per cent of the company's total traffic comes from a smartphone or tablet.
"We are seeing more travel related apps created to help people plan their travel on the go, providing convenience as well as information at their fingertips. From apps that enable travellers to book a hotel for a quick getaway and find the best reviewed restaurant in an unfamiliar city to information on the departure time of a flight or the best seat on the plane," says Andreas Behrens, TripAdvisor's director of mobile partnerships for Asia Pacific.
Founded in February 2000 by president and CEO Stephen Kaufer, TripAdvisor has one simple mission - to help travellers around the world plan for the perfect trip. Today it has more than 260 million unique monthly visitors, and more than 125 million reviews and opinions covering more than 3.1 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions.
Last October, TripAdvisor launched its free, fully-native app for iPhone and Android users that includes access to its new Hotel Price Comparison (metasearch) with up-to-the minute hotel prices and availability, and a dynamic map functionality that gives a real- time view of accommodations, attractions or restaurants near a specific point of interest.
"It's not just about booking a hotel, it's also about booking the hotel for the same night close to a specific location. Most mobile customers book their hotel rooms within one day of arrival. Information on location and time is key, and TripAdvisor apps take full advantage of the capabilities of smartphones with features like 'Point Me There' which uses GPS technology to show users which direction to take to get to a point of interest, in addition to showing it on the map," Behren says.
Other than downloadable apps, Behren says TripAdvisor is forging partnerships to have the mobile app pre-installed in devices, starting with Samsung Galaxy S4.
"TripAdvisor content can also be accessed through Sony Xperia Z1's Info-Eye application, a very innovative integration for users to pull in reviews, ratings and information relating to a hotel or attraction simply by pointing the smartphone's camera at the point of interest," he adds.
Behren says despite the popular belief that holidays are supposed to be a time to unplug, nine out of 10 Malaysian travellers admit to being attached to mobile technology while they are away. The desire to stay connected with family and friends at home and fear of missing out forms a growing attachment to mobile connection and social media usage while on holiday.
"Although calling (73 per cent) and texting (62 per cent) remain key reasons to use smartphones while travelling, a significant portion of travellers are using mobile technology to access social media and to look for recommendations on the go with Malaysians far more likely to do so using their smartphones than the average global traveller," he says.
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