Note to the American travel industry: Look at what the Europeans are doing. And note to American travelers: look what the European business travelers can do. OK, in fairness a lot of what is happening in Europe is already starting to find its way to America; but a couple of newly-launched services should be seen by American rail and air carriers as a guide.
The first new service to pay attention to is ReisPlanner Xtra, a mobile widget that displays context-aware travel information. This was launched earlier this year as part of a coronation between Service2Media, Appear and Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS), the National Dutch Rail Authority. This is the first context-aware wireless service for Dutch train travelers, and this mobile travel application can use current location information from GPS or even cellular ID to automatically determine the nearest station.
This service can further provide support for travelers based on the user context, such as favorite journeys, preferred or recently visited stations, local points of interest, or information about those closest stations. The app can even be used to let you share travel plans with friends and family, plus it can monitor your planned journey and alert you should you need to make changes.
The other notable app is starting to show up already stateside. But the latest air carrier to implement mobile check-in is Austrian Airlines, which is using the Lufthansa System’s GroundSolutions technology platform. This covers all modern check-in channels. In addition to Internet check-in, this app allows passengers to use a mobile phone or PDA via SMS or through a mobile Web site. At the airport the mobile device replaces the traditional ticket.
As I’ve posted before, this isn’t a perfect solution. Users will have to make sure their mobile phones are compatible with the system, and of course make sure they have adequate battery life for their devices during the check-in and boarding process. But unlike with paper tickets, you’re not about to misplace that mobile phone quite so easily.
Mobile Travel Apps of the Week:
Hampton Inn and MapQuest – This week, Hampton Inn announced its collaboration with MapQuest with the new MapQuest Business Locator Enhancement. The hotel chain will be one of the initial test brands for the new MapQuest 4 Mobile app for the iPhone, which will offer mobile mapping and directions for customers. There will be an option for users to display hotel locations and more with a single tap to the iPhone interface. This is a free downloadable app via the Apple App Store.
tripwolf – The online social guide tripwolf this week launched a free iPhone app, which allows users to search and download from more than 500,000 destinations worldwide, including the most up-to-date travel information. Users can download city guides, and the application is now available for use around the globe, and is available in English, German, Spanish, French and Italian. The city guides can be downloaded to the iPhone, and thus free users from the roaming charges. It is available free from the Apple App Store.