While standing in line at a wedding reception bar this past weekend, I heard a fellow guest behind me mutter a rather discouraging word while thumbing through his iPhone.
“The line’s not that long,” I interjected jovially, trying to make small talk.
“Oh, it’s not that,” he said, looking up from his phone. “My flight out tomorrow got pushed up an hour. I was already leaving earlier in the morning than I would have liked.”
“Can you switch to a later flight?” I asked.
“Not a bad idea. I’ve got to check on that.” So deep was his gaze into the iPhone’s 3.5-inch display as he turned out of line that he walked straight into a gaggle of giggling bridesmaids, one of whom dropped a half-eaten cupcake on his foot.
While his might be one of a few shoes that have ever been covered in frosting, my fellow guest’s behavior mirrors a growing segment of travelers who are booking and altering travel plans with handy smartphones. According to results of the new Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2010 Portrait of American Travelers, nearly two in 10 travelers have downloaded a travel-related application to their phones, while nearly one in six has booked a hotel or airfare. An additional three in 10 have compared airfares or hotel rates or shared information or photos about their travel experiences.
"Clearly, mobile devices are destined to play an increasingly important role in the distribution and sale of travel services in years ahead," said Peter C. Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership in a news release. "Both shopping and more real-time engagement in the discovery of what a destination has to offer are likely to rival talking and texting in the years ahead."
While the trend isn’t surprising—the proliferation of mobile devices is growing at an exponential rate—it’s something hotel markets should be reminded of nonetheless.
What are you doing to capitalize on this technology? How are you making the process of booking travel using a smartphone a more intuitive process for guests?
We’re curious to hear your responses, but don’t get too focused in the discussion. We don’t want any more dropped cupcakes.