By Sarah Young
LONDON (Reuters) - Thumbing through guide books for restaurant and shopping tips while on holiday could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to mobile travel technology that knows where you are and what you like and can ping you personalized recommendations.
People are increasingly turning to their mobile phones to book flights, hotels and make other travel-related purchases, with $96 billion, or 12.5 percent of global online travel sales, made via the devices in 2014, according to a report by Euromonitor International.
Using data from those purchases, travel providers will soon be pushing personalized options for hotels and restaurants via mobile devices, Euromonitor's WTM Global Trends Report 2015 forecast.
"The opportunities that smart technology offers travel companies are endless and we have only scratched the surface," said World Travel Market (WTM) senior director Simon Press.
"It won't be long before personalized suggestions – created from cross-checking consumers' preferences and current location with online inventories of local travel services and activities – will become the norm."
The trend among travel firms such as Booking.com and Expedia, as well as airline Ryanair, mimics what has happened in retail, where companies such as Amazon.com harvest detailed customer data to push targeted offers in real time.
Over the period 2014-2019, mobile travel sales are forecast to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 22 percent, said the report, adding "beacon technology" would help to enable the more tailored marketing.
In certain locations, mobile devices react to beacons, allowing companies to see where a customer is at any time.
That is particularly helpful for companies at a time when tourist tastes are diversifying into new locations, another shift identified by the same report which found that visitors to European cities are increasingly seeking out trendy "hipster" neighborhoods rather than traditional tourist areas.
Booking accommodation via website Airbnb has opened up areas such as Kreuzberg in Berlin, District VII in Budapest and Dalston in London, where there are fewer hotels, the report said.
Travellers keen to explore hipster districts, or indeed elsewhere, without notifications or recommendations, can always turn off their mobile device.
(Editing by Mark Potter)