A mobile future?

8 Dec 2008 by Sara Turner

The travel market will reject mobile phones as a booking channel, predicts mobile concierge service provider Mantic Point.

Mike Atherton, managing director of Mantic Point, has made several predictions on how people will use their mobiles when travelling in 2009.

Widespread booking of flights and hotels on mobile phones is not likely to happen quickly, predicted Atherton, while post-ticketing possibilities, such as add-ons and advertising, will see a rapid increase.

“Operators are going to focus on getting as much value and information out of the customer as possible,” said Atherton.

This means travellers are likely to have increased contact with travel providers via their mobile phones after booking, in particular for advertising, information or special offers.

Atherton went on to predict that 2009 will be a “launch and learn” year for travel brands, with companies using more mobile-web applications, as consumers upgrade to newer models of mobile phone which are web enabled.

Atherton also said that more low-cost brands will start sending itineraries by SMS, in a bid to increase uptake of paid-for add-ons. Mobile services will also become more “tailor made”, as consumers request information relevant to them.

Technology company Mantic Point provides Streamthru, a mobile travel concierge service used by travel providers such as Easyjet and BAA to provide flight updates, traffic alerts and weather forecasts. Information requested by the traveller can also be provided, such as events guides, translation assistance and emergency help.

Easyjet uses Streamthru to provide free flight information before a flight, plus paid-for services such as weather forecasts, traffic alerts and destination assistance.

Peter Gerstle, head of product development at Easyjet, said: “We provide our passengers with a choice of mobile content based on their profile, so all mobile dialogue is relevant and personalised to each traveller and adds real value. Mobile is an important part of our ancillary growth and customer services strategy.”

Travel brands can charge customers to use Streamthru, or they can subsidise it by allowing airport retailers and brands to advertise on the service. Advertisers can send targeted offers, so passengers only receive information relevant to their trip - for example passengers travelling to Egypt could receive offers on diving equipment.

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Report by Sara Turner

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