What do people use their smartphones for? They look at them – Google tracking reveals that in just two months a person will have 40,000 "digital moments", 78 per cent of which is on mobile terminals. And what is so remarkable about this is that most of these virtual contacts are very brief. The challenge facing all providers is therefore to ensure a convincing and trouble-free digital experience in this world of "brief moments. In tests it was evident that some people not only meet their selective information requirements (for example shortly before a purchase) via the mobile network, but also plan their travel subtly, over longer periods of time, carrying out their research while on the move. When, over a period of 60 days, someone googles holiday destinations more than 400 times, without actually committing themselves, there is a growing pressure to be available at every moment with the right information and a suitable offer.
"We are recording 50 per cent more mobile tourism searches, and mobile reservations have doubled over the past year", reports Oliver Heckmann, Vice President Travel and Shopping for Google, speaking at the ITB Future Day during the ITB Berlin Convention. "The decisive factor is being able to make truly continuous, seamless processes available." The latest developments at Google reveal the continuing need for some brilliant solutions. The search engine now integrates its flight search and hotel search modules with information about travelling times, weather and the destination, as well as video content and suggested tours, all in a handy mobile screen format. At a click it can now show air fares and hotel rates weeks in advance, and when reservations are being made it can also handle the payment process via Google Account. "Making this technical capacity available involved some crazy programming", according to Heckmann. On the question of whether Google is seeking to establish itself as an online travel agency, he responded with an unequivocal no. Isabel Bommer