IDC: m-commerce set to be next big challenge for travel industry

Travel companies will have to address the issue of emerging mobile technologies proactively in order to gain a competitive...

Travel companies will have to address the issue of emerging mobile technologies proactively in order to gain a competitive advantage, IDC said last week.

The recommendation follows a report from the analyst firm which estimated that more than 23 million Europeans will use their mobile phones to buy travel products and services by 2005.

Travel is the leading e-commerce product on the Internet in Europe, and IDC believes this trend will be mirrored on the mobile Internet, despite the adverse effects of the 11 September terror attacks on the European travel industry.

Claudia Lonardi, senior research analyst at IDC, said the travel sector was ideally placed to take advantage of m-commerce.

"It makes perfect sense for travellers to benefit from mobile services at every stage of their travel experience, from journey planning through travelling to reaching their destination," she said.

"Travel companies will have to address the issue of emerging technologies in a proactive way," Lonardi said.

"A timely approach will guarantee they have a competitive advantage when the provision of advanced travel services becomes widely available in the market," she added.

IDC's report estimates that 49 million European users will also buy public transport tickets with their mobile phones by 2005. The firm said this will have a positive knock-on effect on other m-commerce segments such as bill payment, tickets for shows at the theatre, cinema or sporting fixtures, parking meters and vending machines.

Some UK companies are already taking advantage of m-commerce in these ways. One London restaurant and bar allows customers to pay their bills via their mobile phones, while motorists will soon be able to pay their car parking/meter charges via their mobile phones and receive the bills via e-mail, following a deal between Mobile2Meter, a provider of payment services to the parking management industry, and e-billing supplier ACI Worldwide.

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