I read an interesting posting online the other day, which talked in broad brushstroke turns about travel trends. What was interesting to me was the following quote: “In fact, according to our 2008 NEXTGEN Traveler survey , fully one out of four ‘next generation’ travelers plan to use their mobile phone or PDA to make or change travel plans (other than through voice communications) in the next two years.”
First off – I’m not sure what nexgen traveler really means. However, it got me thinking: when do I most need my phone to really work for me? And it wasn’t hard to conjure up the countless reasons why this is true:
- Stuck in an airport – rather than waiting in line at the service counter, I call American Airlines and have on of their friendly phone consultants help me reschedule my delayed or canceled flight.
- Lost: My phone maps me out of that mess!
- Hotel reservation messed up/convention registration messed up/life gets in the way: I place a call back to the office to figure out where I went wrong (and yes, it’s mostly my fault)
- And most importantly – the MOM factor: my mom can’t keep track of where I am or where I’m going, so she just memorizes my cell phone and then calls whenever she feels the need. Our conversations usually start with: where are you today?
The phone is changing the way we do lots of things – but travel seems to be on the front lines of this change.
I was astounded: I entered a Executive MBA program this past summer, and was bombarded by classmates (most in their 30′s and 40′s) with requests to join Facebook.I admit it: I fell to peer pressure, and was soon consumed by making friends and adding status updates. This tool is the social glue that is connecting my classmates as we lead busy lives in cities all over the US.
Then, I was shocked: Christmas morning rolled around, and I had two friend requests for differing Aunts – both in their late 50′s. I spent the next hour instant messaging with one of them about how to view photos, as her son had uploaded pictures of his adventures in another country and Facebook and she was desperate to view them.
As I was riding the bus, using my phone to update my Facebook profile, it hit me: it’s happened: social networks are now mainstream, constant in our lives. A recent post on AppScout citing a Kelsey Group report indicates that nearly 10% of cell phone users in the US accessed their social networks via phone, nearly tripling the usage from a year previous. That’s significant growth, and also significant growth ahead.
So ….people send text messages from their phone, take and share videos/pictures from their phone, browse online from their phone and keep it with them all the time. This is a marketers dream gift! It’s only a matter of time before more and more of life’s activities are brought online.
Admission #1: I don’t have kids. I’m so far from having kids, my mother makes a point of mentioning that her time clock for grandchildren is ticking even if mine isn’t. So forgive me at being a little naive when it comes to the trends of our youth.
Admission #2: Since I grew up without many modern conveniences (I was OUT of college and gainfully employed before I got my first cell phone. Heck, I begged for a phone outlet in my room when I turned 15.), it’s hard for me to remember that the cell phone is as much a part of the youth experience today as The Smurf’s were for my experience some 20+ years ago.
When computers first became popular, we dealt with the porn and other social ills by encouraging our families to put computers in common areas where others can monitor activities. However, now that many phones enable instant messaging, email and web browsing at any time, from anywhere how do we adapt and ensure that our children aren’t falling into the same traps as in the early days of the internet.
I read a great article that describes how parents can limit access on some of the more advanced phones. It’s a great step in the right direction. However, parents should consider all the implications when they decide what model of phone, and service plan, they want to purchase for their children. Does an 8 year old really need 24/7 access to his/her email?
The Pew Internet & American Life Project just released the “Future of the Internet III” report which has some interesting predictions. Among the most applicable to businesses is the idea that by 2020, there will be 20 billion cell phones in the world – and they will be the primary method through which people access the internet.
Wow …. think about it. Think of interacting with your favorite websites only through a 2 inch square screen. Many applications do it now …. Facebook Mobile; AIM mobile, Yahoo Mail mobile, etc. And certainly many more are creating specialized applications for the iPhone. This proliferation will only spill over to Windows mobile or the OS for Blackberry.
Check out this great summary article, as well as the full report.