Have Phone, Will Travel (Part 1)

Over the past decade, the travel industry has been fundamentally changed by technology–a perfect storm that reconfigured the buyer-seller relationship, pulled back the curtain of price elasticity, and consigned the downtown travel agency to an endangered species.

Lightening is about to strike twice.

Not that long ago, an “e-ticket” meant a ride at Disnelyand.  Today, it is the accepted mode of travel for tens of millions of air passengers and an increasing number of bus and rail consumers.  Now, in the midst of a move to mobile, transportation companies must be careful not to repackage the past, but to build to the future.

The expectations of the mobile generation are not to read a web site on a phone, but to embrace app technology and personalization.  Without it, travel sites are missing the forest from the trees.

Too many airline mobile sites can best be called a “screen scrape”, displaying a web-based page on a phone but little else.  These sites struggle to build share and reach.

It’s more than just airlines, however.  The combined traffic of rail, bus, and public transit in the U.S. exceeds 300 million trips a year, much of it relying on paper tickets and labor-intensive processes.  It’s not a question of when mobile will energize this sector, but how.

As airlines move customers to mobile ticketing, similar opportunities for rail, bus, and transit offer even more economies of scale to the traveling public, if the industry as a whole can overcome three distinct hurdles to converting to a mobile standard.

In part 2, we’ll discuss these three hurdles and how Clockwork Technology can help you get a “jump” on your competition.


John Reagan is a senior consultant for mobile solutions at Clockwork Technology LLC, Plano, TX.  Reach him at john.reagan@clockworktechnology.com