What do Sabre, Orbitz, Starwood and RCI have in common? Tech-sense.
Smartphone applications are taking off. The 10 billionth app was downloaded from Apple’s App Store in January. The travel industry has in general been slow to think of ways to use them to boost business. However, some tech-minded travel companies have developed apps that encourage consumers to interact with their brands using mobile technology.
Sabre users can check flights, change seats and send posts to Facebook and Twitter via Sabre Virtually There Mobile and will very soon also be able to launch shopping and booking functions for flights and hotels. Frequent stayers with Starwood can use Apple’s video-calling app FaceTime to speak to its customer service agents face-to-face. Starwood says it is the only hotel company offering such a service. And five months ago, Orbitz became the first online travel agency to allow Android and iPhone users to search and book flights, hotel stays and rental cars using its mobile app.
iCruise.com users can check updated information on 12,000 itineraries and 20 cruise lines, from cabin and deck descriptions to the weather, using the iPhone app Cruise Finder. Royal Caribbean International offers a similar app for its own ships, where users can communicate with customer service or get a quote.
[pictured: Apple’s iPad]