Asian travelers want to fly by mobile

Travelers want to use mobile phones to access more travel services including flight check-in and seat change, survey finds.

Travelers in the Asia-Pacific region are keen to access more travel-related services via their mobile devices, according to a new survey released Tuesday.

Conducted by travel services provider Sabre Travel Network, the study revealed that 51 percent of Asia-Pacific travelers would like to use their mobile phones to check in for flights. Some 46 percent would be keen to select and change their seats, while 40 percent said they would like to use their mobile devices to automate re-accommodation services should their flights be canceled. Another 38 percent would like to be able to book flight upgrades.

According to Sabre, respondents in the region indicated the highest interest in being able to access flight services on their mobile devices. The survey polled 800 business and leisure travelers in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, Latin America and North America.

Despite the heighten interest in mobile travel services, only 46 percent--the lowest among all respondents--in the Asia-Pacific region owned a smartphone, compared to the overall average of 69 percent and 79 percent in North America.

Sabre noted though that Asia's smartphone ownership is increasing rapidly.

"Travel suppliers and agencies can no longer ignore the mobile platform as the numbers are showing a definite uptrend toward mobile adoption for travel services. This is especially evident in the post-booking phase of the travel buying process," Hans Belle, Asia-Pacific vice president of Sabre, said in the report.

"Smartphones are becoming a traveler's preferred tool for managing post-booking activities and getting relevant information. This represents a tremendous opportunity for the travel industry to leverage mobile solutions to demonstrate value to their customers and creatively reach target audiences," Belle said.

According to the survey, 28 percent of frequent travelers said they were willing to accept advertisements in exchange for free travel-related applications, while 8 percent they would prefer to pay for such apps.

Belle noted that there has been much experimentation based on pay-for-services but advertising has emerged as a "more palatable choice" for travelers. This allows retailers and application service providers a way to monetize their products, he said.