As WAYN (Where Are You Now?) announces its plans to incorporate mobile technology into its offerings, Tim Hoang examines how this move could revolutionise the travel industry.
WAYN has announced plans to enable its range of services to be made available on mobile phones. The move appears to be the most logical evolution of an often tempestuous relationship between the travel specific social media sites such as WAYN, TripAdvisor and Dopplr and the travel industry.
A recent poll by Amadeus has revealed the extent of the influence of some social networking sites on the travel industry. The study, which looked at the increasing popularity of user-generated content found that 100% of business travel agents questioned used the likes of TripAdvisor, IgoUgo and YouTube as resources to advise and travellers.
WAYN, the world’s largest travel and lifestyle focused social networking community plans to open up the site’s most popular functions to its users’ mobile phones and other portable devices. The site already allows users to download a speaking translation facility to their mobile phones for a fee but wants to expand this to include mail and travel guides and update their profiles - effectively enabling a real time review of destinations for all its members.
The company also plans to introducing software which will allow users to access travel itineraries and flight status alerts for mobile phones.
Annika Erskine, director of sales, marketing and communication at WAYN underlined how users should not be restricted by not being able to access the Internet.
"We want WAYN to be available in a number of different ways and outside the main times when people use the Internet. We want to give them access in their pockets," said Erskine.
User generated travel site, TripAdvisor is not completely convinced that mobile technology will truly revolutionise its users’ experiences. In an exclusive interview with NMK, Ian Rumgay, European communications manager said, "[the effect that mobile technology will have on travel sites is] difficult to say at the moment. I guess it could make our site more accessible and more convenient - e.g. When you are out and about and want inspiration for something to do or possibly to check on a restaurant."
However, with more users making comments about the quality of destinations and hotels, it leaves less room for fake postings made by hotels to promote their own potential holiday destinations.
"The great majority of hotels know it is not worth it - they run a real risk of getting caught and if they do it will ruin their reputation," said Rumgay. "While the odd bogus review may slip through the net, the sheer volume of reviews will provide an additional safeguard."
Mobile phones are also being used to make the lives of the traveller much more convenient, with bookings being made online, helping to cut queues and operational costs. The International Airport Transport Association, has recently approved a 2D barcode which can be sent to mobile phones and used to speed up check ins.
Mobile Travel Technologies, a software development company focused on the travel industry, believes that mobile technology will increase the number of travellers willing to book their trips online.
"There are booking being made in the developing markets where people don’t have residential broadband access," said Gerry Samuels, executive director of Mobile Travel Technologies.