The iPad Effect on the Travel Industry

How will the iPad affect the travel industry?

Before we even get started, this is not a post about how fantastic or disappointing yesterday’s iPad announcement was.  Nor is it a feature by feature review of the new device.  This Travel 2.0 post is about asking questions…specifically, what does yesterday’s announcement mean to you and I, what should we do about it and what does the future hold for travelers interacting with our brand and content.

So, let’s take a look.

Yesterday’s iPad announcement…

…is another signal that the way consumers take in content is forever changing.

Consumers will continue to expect, as well as begin to demand, that all of your content and information be available in the format and on the device of their choosing.  Whether the answer or preference is a ‘traditional’ printed guide or brochure, a website, a mobile site, an app, a Facebook page, etc., etc., regardless of access point…phone, TV, iPad…consumers are expecting to see the same content within each experience.

We know, it was so simple 10 years ago.  We had a brochure and a website, nothing more.  Then, technology happened.  iPhones, netbooks, e-readers, all of it compounding upon itself to create a myriad of content delivery vehicles each with their own specs, needs and costs.  Enough to drive a person techno-crazy.  Unfortunately, as the iPad announcement has shown, this trend will continue into the foreseeable future.

Our recommendation, place content at the center of the wheel and let the websites, blogs and apps be the spokes.  Ensure that your content strategy is prepared and able to feed content along each of these paths.  As our next question points out, you might not need to build an iPad app just yet, but at least the content will be ready if you do.

…does not mean you need to build another app.

Ugh, you don’t.  Let the dust settle on this announcement before drawing up plans for your iPad app.  Let’s see how the consumer uses the device and then develop based upon their needs and opportunities.

…continues the trend of content becoming unrestricted due to screen or system.

As mentioned in our first point, the screens in your home…TV, computer, mobile phone…are becoming increasingly interchangeable.  Do not assume that the consumer is watching your TV spot on the TV, or that they are reviewing their ski vacation plans on a laptop.  Devices are becoming interchangeable.  I can start the day by reading the New York Times on my iPad and then switch to the full screen view on my laptop.  Or even pull up NYT videos on my phone.  Case in point, I read the Times last Saturday on my Blackberry…never even picked up the paper or turned on the computer.

…should make you think about how e-readers or e-book readers will affect travel guide publishing in the future.

Does it strike anyone else that this type of iPad device will be the primary way we consume print in the future?  Books, magazines, brochures all downloaded to your iPad.  If I am Travel + Leisure, why not send you the latest issue via an iPad app.  Less cost for me (in theory).  Plus, better ad tracking and statistics.

That being said, I love books.  I love the feel.  I love knowing that I have a library of thought, history and art in my house now.  I certainly do not want to push the art of printing into the abyss, however I think some forms of publishing would benefit from an iPad-like device in every home.

For any of us in the travel space…DMO/CVB, resort, publisher, airline…how will e-readers change the way we send our now print-only information?  And what opportunities will we have to re-think the ‘published’ experience and turn that static printed image into an interactive video?  Do consumers what our OVGs via an e-reader?

Time will tell.

There you go, our first thoughts on the new iPad.  Not fully developed, but just the start of this conversation.

But what do you think?  Where and how do you see the iPad, or a future iPad-like device, influencing and changing the travel industry?  Or does it at all?  Let us know in the comments section, we would love to re-post the thoughts of our readers for a future article.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.