Concierge and Travel Services

The travel industry is likely to be a heavy user of mobile location-based technology to improve the services they provide. Basic services include enhanced 411 concierge service (i.e., "Where's the nearest restaurant?") and local travel advisory 511 service. More advanced services range from specialized travel service providers (Travelocity,, and Priceline) to complete mobility management solutions.

MetroOne ( is one of the leading providers of enhanced 411 services to telecommunications carriers. In addition to the basic phone number lookup service, MetroOne provides a number of other valuable location-oriented services in the United States:

  • Movie information: Theater locations, movie listings, show times, reviews, ratings, and phone numbers

  • Radio station information: Allows you to find a nationally syndicated show or look up the station format, call letters, frequency, program times, and coverage area for local stations

  • TV station information: Allows you to look up program listings and times for local stations

  • Concierge: Full-service live operator concierge service similar to what you'd expect to receive in a first-class hotel

In July of 2000, the U.S. FCC designated 511 as the single traffic information phone number to be made available to local and state jurisdictions. There are no federal requirements or mandates requiring service similar to the positioning requirements of 911 emergency calls, but many regions already have implemented solutions, including Utah, which developed service for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Based on TellMe Network Inc.'s ( voice application platform, the system integrates with the state's Web infrastructure and existing CommuterLink system (, which provides traffic, weather, and accident information via radio, television, the news media, and the Internet. The system is very easy to use and highly effective.

In many ways, the regional 511 service in the United States is similar to the idea behind the RDS?TMC service that is more common in Europe. RDS?TMC is a data broadcast via FM radio of traffic and travel advisories. The broadcasts are associated with specific TMC map locations that navigation systems can use to associate with streets on a map, which, unlike the 511 voice service, has the added advantage of allowing RDS?TMC to be used for dynamic navigation. RDS?TMC broadcasts are also broadcast in multiple languages so the user can preprogram the language he or she would like to receive.

Advanced use of location-based information is used in the service offerings of companies like Travelocity,, and Priceline. Travelocity offers concierge service relevant to a traveler's itinerary via its Web site and on a variety of mobile devices., a provider of last-minute "deals" on travel, geocodes POIs like hotels to allow users to do a map-based search for hotels near their destination. Priceline, which provides a "name your own price" service, uses GIS principles to create the various regions of a metropolitan area that users of its hotel application must choose between to do a hotel price match search in.

Airlines are already using SMS to notify travelers of delays and gate changes, and once location-based information is incorporated into these basic mobile applications, an entirely new class of service is possible. An interesting example is the provision of an end-to-end mobility management solution. This solution would combine many of the products already discussed and enhance them by personalizing them based on both who the user is and where the user is. A mobility management system would allow turn-key travel planning that includes all modes of transportation, including air, train, subway, ferry, and private car or taxi. Because the system would know where the user is on his or her journey, it would be able to make intelligent concierge-style recommendations either automatically or on demand. The system could be aware of traffic and travel advisories and last-minute discount opportunities, making itinerary suggestions accordingly. Using proximity-based services could allow a user with hotel instant checkin and checkout privileges to take care of this ahead of time, eliminating the need to queue in the hotel lobby. Authentication could be handled with a PIN number. During any part of a user's journey, he or she could access information on events, POIs, or even services relevant to their location. A mobility management portal might customize the interface based on where a user is and what it believes the user is doing. There is no reason why it could not provide hotel amenity information when the user is in a hotel, or train schedules when a user is on a train. The key to making the service successful is developing trust with the user and having the right balance of information delivered by alerts (which can be intrusive) and by a trusted and custom on-demand resource.