Today’s consumer spends an average of 2.8 hours a day online on their mobile phone and 69% of Brits cite technology like apps and the internet as their preferred way of finding out more about the new cities, over traditional methods such as travel books and brochures.

Clearly the smartphone has not only become the main device for getting on the web, but it has become a crucial part of many consumers lives, a constant companion wherever they go, be it on the commute, at work or even on holiday.

It is therefore an incredibly important channel for the travel industry to use to engage with their customers when planning a holiday, from booking, through to activities and information while they are away.

What is clear from this increase in the amount of time spent on mobile devices is that the mobile phone is not replacing the desktop as much as adding to it. When it comes to planning a holiday or looking for inspiration, it is much easier for consumers to check their phone on the commute or over lunch than it is to use a work computer.

The phenomenon of the second screen – surfing the web while watching TV – is comparatively recent, but it gives travel brands a new shop window to sell themselves to consumers who are likely to be checking flights and packages for holidays, especially as the cold weather closes in and dreams of a winter get away become too vivid to ignore. For travel agents these are key points where they can promote their offers and get in front of potential consumers.

Once the holiday has been booked, smartphones have made travelling a lot less stressful by giving control back to the consumer.

Google Now provides updates on delayed flights, and alerts travellers when they need to leave their home to get to the airport on time. Most airlines also now offer digital boarding passes, which given that a little over 80% of the UK population has a smartphone, means most people no longer need to worry about losing their printed boarding pass.

Once consumers have arrived at their destination and are settling into their holiday frame of mind, smartphones continue to be useful. With data prices falling on all networks, and roaming charges across Europe to be abolished by 2017, consumers are increasingly using their phones abroad in the same way as they do at home. This is opening up new opportunities to brands that can use technology to improve consumers’ holidays.

At Cities Talking we knew from experience that guided tours were in dire need of improvement and so we created our guided tour app which gives consumers control over their exploration of a new city.

With GPS guided tours curated by well-known writers and voiced by local celebrities, plus a constantly updated selection of restaurants, bars and local points of interest – the app is able to offer consumers much more than a free walking tour can.

We are also beginning to see the effects that evolving technology will have on the travel industry. Smartwatches like the Pebble Time, Moto 360 and Apple Watch are the first wave of viable wearable consumer technology and brands like KAYAK, trainline and Skyscanner have all launched apps for these devices which make booking holidays and travelling more convenient.

New products and services are going to make travelling even easier for consumers and travel brands have to make sure they can move quickly to adapt to these new technologies to make the most of new ways to speak to their customers. 

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