Wednesday, February 10, 2010

BOOT eyefortravel interview: search, mobile, social networking, innovation, Asia and more part 2

Part 2 of pre-conference interview with with Ritesh Guptaof eyefortravel in the lead up to the TDS conference in Singapore April 28 & 29. Part 1 here.

Question - Can you provide an insight into how does search differ for mobile phones vis-a-vis PC? What according to you are the striking differences?

BOOT - The easy answer is location. A phone knows so much more about your current location than a PC. This gives mobile a huge advantage over PC search in servicing an immediate requirement. But there are challenges here too. A mobile can assume too much about a location. Just because I am travelling in Tokyo does not mean that I want the answer to the question to be in Japanese. The other challenge for mobile is that the platforms are still not uniform in display. Thankfully we are down to a much smaller list of mobile browsers/operating systems that previously but still there are differences between iphone, windows mobile, blackberry, palm and symbian which call challenges in display. This is where apps come in as content providers are trying to get around the browser and device compatibility by using apps to control display and information management to consumers.

Question - The progression of technology and innovation in the travel industry continues at a quickening pace and Asian countries are closing the gap on their western counterparts. What according to have been the major developments in this context in Asia?

BOOT - Innovation is always driven by local requirements and demand patterns. Therefore there are examples across Asia of markets driving product development well ahead of the US or Europe. India leads the world in online bus ticket sales and low cost carrier and traditional carrier display integration. Japan leads the world in online hotel bookings via mobile phones. China leads the world in call centre same day hotel bookings. The mistake many make in planning for innovation is to look to the technology first rather than the business need. As I discussed in this post the secret to innovation is as much about timing, social readiness and execution as it is about a great technology idea. Therefore the major development in Asia that is driving innovation is not a technology one it is a attitudinal shift and market maturity. A display of confidence within the Asian travel industry that dedicated market specific solutions can be put together to target customer needs rather than simply copying what the global OTAs are doing in Europe and America.

Question - What are you most looking forward to at TDS Asia? Who are you most looking forward to meeting at the event?

BOOT - Conferences are always about people watching and meeting. That is what I am looking forward to. The best person you meet at a good conference is the person you weren't expecting to meet. Someone you did not know that you needed to know - if you know what I mean :).

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