With so much happening in the world of mobile travel, it is easy for agents to be unclear about what they should do to get a piece of the action.
Well, the advice from Brett Henry, vice president of marketing and India operations for Abacus International, is "conquer the post-booking space first".
The value to travel agents is in this area, he says – delivering information after a client buys a ticket, such as late flight changes, and a mobile itinerary.
"Conquer this space first, then think of transactions," says Henry.
Nevertheless, mobile travel bookings are becoming a significant part of the consumer journey ecosystem and Asia is leading the way.
The largest OTAs in Asia are ahead in mobile transactions than their global counterparts, Henry says, citing Cleartrip and Ctrip as companies to benchmark.
Among the airlines, AirAsia is ahead of the other main contenders in the region and was expecting to take US$200 million in sales through the mobile channel during 2010.
Abacus, of course, is getting in on the act, producing products such as Abacus Mobile and Abacus WebStart for Mobile.
But on the question of whether a company should go for a mobile website or app (a common question these days), Henry says: "Have a great mobile website first, then go for the App."
The ground is certainly ripe for travel to go mobile in a big way in Asia, the world’s largest mobile phone market. Asia-Pacific accounts for 30% penetration of smartphones worldwide, and 54% of all devices sold in Asia are expected to be smartphones by 2015, up from 5% in 2009, most of it driven by social networking.
Seven out of ten mobile users are members of online social networks and a third of them are influenced by comments by people in their online social network when making travel purchase decisions.
In 2012, it is expected there will be around 123 million mobile payment users in APAC.
The number of apps has also taken off recently, with all the major app providers including Apple, Android, Blackberry and Nokia Ovi Store, increasing by triple digit percentages from just a year ago.
When pressed by WIT to pick which would be the dominant platform over the long term, Henry opts for Android.
"Airlines and travel providers see the value in mobile. They are setting up mobile websites and developing apps.
"With its vast population and mobile usage, Asians will pave the way in determining the future face of travel through mobile, especially with the dominance of smartphones in the region, serving as a one-stop repository and access to all the touchpoints travellers need when on the go."