As I continue my research trip, I write this on my laptop using satellite broadband — a technology that can be described as being only reasonably reliable and worse, a tad expensive. Fortunately, the cruise ship that I am on also provides mobile connectivity, which includes my data plan coverage. This allows me to forego the expense of having to check e-mail on the computer. Instead e-mail, instant messaging and other communications come directly to my handset. Not a bad way to stay in touch.
I bring this up because while I was traveling I came across a news report from ITB Berlin, which highlighted that mobile communication devices are becoming increasingly dominant in the global travel industry. Business travelers, as well as those on holiday (I’m mixing the two), are increasingly using smartphones, mobile handsets and netbooks as they travel.
“Presentations and practical demonstrations of innovative products and services, as well as fascinating discussion rounds with experts will help to make the wealth of mobile travel services comprehensible to the user, to travel managers and private consumers alike,” said David Ruetz, Senior Manager ITB Berlin. The company is now providing this market with a platform designed specifically for the mobile travel industry. And according to its reports, mobile communication devices can boost efficiency and productivity on a business trip and save an average of 42 minutes per working day per employee.
In my case, I found myself in Turkey and used the BlackBerry Tour to pull up images of particular items I was seeking at antique markets. While I had no luck actually finding my particular Holy Grail item, being able to get a picture of what I was seeking really helped matters! I will hopefully have similar results when I arrive in Egypt this weekend and continue my research. Since I need to pack light, a mobile smartphone means I can take voice notes, snapshots (although I have a digital SLR camera with me), and of course e-mail colleagues on my findings.
So the point is that while the travel industry will likely embrace mobile, and companies such as ITB Berlin will likely improve the platforms, mobile devices will continue to improve travel for those on holiday and those on business — and will of course be a lifesaver for those like me who always mix the two together.