On the Move - Mobile Apps.
By Vijay Dandapani
Thursday, 8th April 2010
emarketer 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.

Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city.Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York.

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