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Travel spotlight for 2014 falls on social media and mobile

The spotlight falls on social media and mobile trends as well as how online penetration continues apace for some destinations.

A session on how Facebook is now in every stage of the travel process, from dreaming and planning to experiencing and reflecting – with a senior exec from the social network unsurprisingly drew a huge audience.

Few companies grasp Facebook’s value as a conversion tool, Lee McCabe, its head of travel, told those gathered.

Still on the subject of social, a panel organised by Travel Bloggers Unite came out firmly in favour of the impact of bloggers in the booking funnel.

Bloggers can have a positive effect on many stages of the booking cycle according to experts on the panel.

Mobile was also a theme on Day two at The Travel Tech Show at WTM with Gary Morrison, Expedia’s retail boss, leading a session on the opportunities it creates that have never before been possible.

During an ‘Are you mobile?’ session, he said it should be thought of as ‘fundamentally different’ not least because of its multi-channel nature.

A further highlight was news that Germany is set to become Europe’s biggest online travel market within the next five years according to a new report.

PhoCusWright Director, Research Luke Bujarski said that while Germany’s internet travel market currently has a penetration of 36%, lagging other countries, this is set to change.

The Travel Tech Show at WTM derives from the Technology region of WTM. The region grew by 70% between 2010 and 2012, leading the launch of ‘the show within a show’ concept. The Travel Technology Show welcomes an extra 61 exhibitors . Amadeus, Comtec, Pegasus and Dolphin Dynamics are some of the familiar reservations and booking technology firms exhibiting this year. But other sectors such as email marketing, reviews management and consumer-facing bedbanks will be represented by newcomers such as Silverpop, reputation.com and Venere.

– See more at: http://www.wtmlondon.com/page.cfm/action=press/libID=1/libEntryID=2342/listID=1#sthash.R9KpX8VR.dpuf

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Keep taking the tablets, as mobile dominates travel

Smartphones and tablets will be the key customer service tool in travel within the next five years.

Is anything more mobile than travel?

By its very nature, travel is a mobile activity – so the travel trade is using mobile devices before, during and after trips to communicate with customers.

Although communications on-the-go offer great opportunities, travel firms must also be aware that they increase customer expectations, states the report, produced in association with Euromonitor International.

Travellers now expect real-time answers and greater customisation, wherever they are

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and at any time, before, during and after the trip.

TUI Travel, Singapore Tourism Board, and InterContinental Hotels, are among those which have spotted the potential of mobiles, says the report unveiled at the first day of World Travel Market in London.

TUI Travel’s Digital Assistant app offers customers advice before departure, during their holiday and on their return.

YourSingapore Guide app by the Singapore Tourism Board aims to enable visitors to enjoy their personalised Singapore experience as smoothly as possible.

InterContinental Hotels’ Concierge Insider Guides app offers insights provided by company concierges in its 127 world locations.

Peter Long, Chief Executive of TUI Travel Plc, said: “Mobile is revolutionising customer relationships.”

Commenting on the Digital Assistant app, he added: “This is a tool where we think we can really build that intimacy of relationship of treating the customer as an individual and that is very different from the way typically today travel providers work.”

Reed Travel Exhibitions, Senior Director, World Travel Market, Simon Press said: “The dominant role of tablets and apps has created an ‘always-on’ culture amongst consumers. Travel companies need to

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make sure they are engaging with consumers in this way and through these channels.”

Caroline Bremner, Euromonitor International Head of Travel and Tourism Research, said: “Euromonitor International forecasts global smartphone volume sales will post a 17% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) more than 2012-2017, while sales of tablets are forecast at 14% CAGR.

“By 2017, the mobile channel is expected to account for over 30% of online travel value sales. All the signs indicate that mobile will be at the core of customer relationships in travel.”

– See more at: http://www.wtmlondon.com/page.cfm/action=press/libID=1/libEntryID=2216/listID=1#sthash.QMFOXpCd.dpuf