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As Goldtrail collapses, calls for mobile to come to the aid of the travel sector intensify

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In light of the recent collapse of holiday travel company Goldtrail, many in the travel industry and the mobile world believe that more needs to be done to integrate mobile into the holiday retail experience, not least to use it as a cheap and easy way to communicate with holiday makers when things go wrong or companies go bust.

It has been reported that the CAA, (Civil Aviation Authority) under its ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing) scheme, is making arrangements for customers abroad to travel home at the end of their holidays. They have been sending information to the hotels affected, leaving the responsibility on them to update the holidaymakers left in the dark about the consequences of the company going into administration.

Darren Daws Managing Director at the UK’s leading SMS provider Txtlocal said “This is a perfect example of how bulk SMS can be used quickly and effectively to communicate with a large group of people. ATOL, using Goldtrail’s data, could be in a position within minutes to text those customers the latest developments through our online system. Clearly, the beneficiaries from such a fast approach, are ATOL, who can concentrate more on dealing with correcting the issue at hand, rather than answering thousands of calls. The holiday makers who have been affected, can receive information updates directly to their mobile phones, and know that the situation is being dealt with, relieving the pressure for hotel staff to pass on ATOL information to customers”.

And Daws is not alone. Last month, network service provider Oxygen8 Communications published a white paper on mobilising the travel industry, with the company highlighting how mobile technology offers the travel sector significant additional opportunities to drive down costs and improve customer loyalty.

Over the past two years the travel industry’s revenues have plummeted and while the Internet has enabled organisations to streamline some processes to reduce cost and provide rapid access to information, there are still huge untapped opportunities to increase revenues, drive down customer service costs and streamline booking and check-in processes.

The Oxygen8 Communications White Paper outlines the potential for mobile technologies in the travel sector, from simple SMS based booking confirmation to transforming the entire travel process by using the mobile to hold ticket, boarding pass, baggage tracking, and even biometric data.

There has been a huge decline in air passenger traffic, a problem which has been compounded by the recent volcanic ash cloud disruption. The falling airline revenue has been matched by a decline in income for many sectors of the travel industry, from ferries to hotels, parking services to travel companies. The shift towards online booking and online check-in has enabled the airline and hotel sectors to drive down costs, however, travel companies must now look beyond the Internet to attain further benefits in streamlined operations and improved customer service.

Gary Corbett, Commercial Director of Oxygen8 Communications says: “With growing numbers of users now opting for the mobile as the primary way of accessing the Internet, mobile marketing has become a key component of the sales process. One major Japanese airline already claims to generate 5% of its sales via mobiles and there are now 80% of travel companies using SMS to communicate with customers; and 60% are also using SMS internally to make business processes more efficient. But this approach is merely scratching the surface. Mobile technology offers significant additional opportunities to drive down costs and improve customer loyalty. The challenge is prioritising activity and ensuring that service quality matches the demands of an increasingly savvy mobile user population.”

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