Interview of Mr. Gaurav Chiripal, CEO Quadlabs on Travel Industry in Travel Biz monitor -October Issue.

With regards to our conversation, please find below the answers to the questions sent for Mr Gaurav Chiripal on Mobile Technology.

a)How do you foresee mobile phones shaping as a channel for travel planning and booking going forward?

We see that the use of technology has changed through the medium it is put to use. Telecom has played a major role in being the backbone for wireless data services and we find travel companies offering product ; support to the end traveler while on the go.From GPRS to 3G services the speed of data transfer has enabled technology companies to offer products and services with seamless connectivity to execute even financial transactions.The ease of use has eventually made the customer move from the PC to the smartphone to a larger extend. The adaptability is high and we acknowledge the way people make instant bookings from their mobile devices like smart phones and tablets, make instant itineraries and change plans. Going forward the pie for smartphone initiated transactions will see a phenomenal growth rate. A recent survey revealed from an international chain of hotels, said that” 70% of the bookings made via mobiles were for the same day check-ins”.

b)What are the major challenges when it comes to increasing the utility of mobile sites as well as mobile apps in the travel sector?

first challenge that the user has faced since the beginning is of reliability of content. We now experience more authentic content posted on formal and social channels both. This challenge is mitigated with the advent of social media in travel space. Further, this sector has been able to connect to the end traveler and the experienced traveler is also able to connect with the community at large. This has given birth to the user generated content for many business to customer websites. The growth rate has been positive and the reliability factor has gone up. We also see payment related issues like integrations that are supported by many standardized bodies and associations which certify transactions, the financial risk needs to be covered up. Also the end traveler still is very skeptical about many things like – searching for the best rates, confirming the available options for bookings, assurance of an experience of the trip and therefore looks forward to a good experience in entirety. The real challenge however remains of motivating the user to conduct a transaction once through the mobile interface. As a technology company we are proving ourselves to be a strong enabler and we are sure that this will be received positively at the customer’s end.

c) How should travel companies budget and plan for mobile website enhancements and mobile marketing initiatives?

We understand that mobile has been able to quickly connect with the customer with reliable and instant information. However, the penetration in the mobile space is not very impressive and there is un-gauged potential lying underneath. The fact that smartphone market is growing at 25% quarter-on-quarter basis and with new manufacturers bringing the latest in hardware at much below cost has removed entry barriers for the new customers. This gives a much needed impetus to the travel companies to engage the customer and focus on valuable content clubbed with the best in class user experience and win the game. Mobile also offers a much greater opportunity for marketing a brand however we quite often see the marketers crossing their lines conveying not so relevant information to the end user. Today most companies have realized the importance of mobile space ; keep aside more than 25% of their marketing budget for mobile initiatives. We are yet to see most innovative ways of marketing through the mobile space. In fact there are handful of brands who have invested in this space but the trend is strong, building up ; is positive. As estimated by a reliable resource in travel research, mobile apps downloads will increase by seven folds in the next 5 years and the sales via mobile apps shall cross $35 billion worldwide.

d) The mobile device market is fairly fragmented at this time, with many different platforms vying for a share. Travel companies will have to continue to innovate and offer customers products across platforms. How do you see the segment shaping up?

fragmentation needs to be understood clearly before the development takes place. The smartphone category and the platforms build up a matrix. The right combination used, the right mix will enable the right target audience and the adaptability will be very high. Any company today cannot stay float with an offering on a single platform. Therefore the key is to launch a multiplatform product which is highly adaptable and has a strong presence in the market. More so there are multiple collaborations that are now also seen with the telecom operators which give a captive market and also an assurance that the component is inbuilt in the devices at the time of sale. All the above have proved beneficial only from the multi-platform perspective and have witnessed the test of the time. As estimated by a reliable resource in travel research, Smartphone sales are predicted to be touching more than 980 million globally by 2015

e) What should the Indian travel sector consider before going for a native application development or cross platform application development technology?

mentioned in the last answer, a multi platform strategy clubbed with a strategic tie-ups with component manufacturers will work out to be good from development ; distribution perspective. The application must be reliable, extremely easy to use and must offer a value addition with a wonderful user experience. The use of latest in technology is imperative as it offers a seamless connectivity with near zero risks of operational issues. Also noted from a travel research survey, the average life of a mobile app has been as less as 30 days. This goes to explain if the app has not be able to prove itself, it is abandoned very quickly. f) What new trends do you expect as far as mobile technology in hotel distribution and digital marketing is concerned? Astonishing Facts about travel bookings made through mobile travel apps. • Data from a travel site revealed that 70% of bookings made were for the ‘same day check- in’. • One of the largest airlines mentioned reaching the 650000 mark for apps download. • In a survey marketers acknowledge increasing their inputs for mobile marketing by 60%. • More than 65% users access social media via their smartphones as well. • More than 191 airlines use social media to connect with the travelers. • More than 80% of frequent flyers used social media to express their satisfaction about experience.

“An international hotel chain even claims to have received an ROI of more than $40 for every $1 invested in mobile travel technology.”

g) What are the emerging trends, opportunities and challenges in mobile technology that we will see in the near future?

forward we will see the segment increase the base of m-commerce users in the whole pie. There is an ongoing upgrade trend towards smartphones. Group buying sites have fast picked up in the m-commerce space and proved as trend setters. Technologically advanced and innovative companies will lead the pack.

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