IDEA & OPPORTUNITY > Airlines mobile travel guide speaks Spanish

Launched yesterday, Martinair's mobile travel guides combine several not-so-new elements to create a helpful tool for their holiday-bound customers. The Dutch charter company is the first airline to offer its passengers a travel guide they can install on their web-enabled mobile phones. Customers can buy a destination guide for EUR 6.50, and they're free for anyone booking in December. A link is sent to the user's phone by text message, and they can download the entire guide-approximately 400 KB-within minutes. Since all of the information is copied to their phone's memory, travellers are able to avoid expensive roaming charges when they want to look up a local hotspot.

The travel guides are based on content provided by Leads2Travel's travel editors and include local tips from Martinair crew members. Current destinations on offer are Curaçao, Miami and Havana, with two dozen other cities to follow over the next few months. While Dutch people won't have much trouble getting by on the primarily Dutch speaking island of Curaçao, the guides for Miami and Havana offer an extra tool-a talking vocabulary. This service, built by Steape and accessible from within the travel guide, offers a host of useful phrases shown in Dutch and English or Spanish. Users who have trouble communicating with the locals can let their phones do the talking. Click on a button, and a friendly voice speaks the selected phrase.

Mind you, talking translation devices and applications aren't new. The Lingo Voyager 3, for example, is a dedicated talking translation device that looks like an old-fashioned BlackBerry, and can translate and utter over 400,000 words and 46,000 phrases in twenty languages. LonelyPlanet teamed up with Sony to offer PSP Passport guides, which also include audio phrasebooks, and Sony's TalkMan for PSP is a voice-activated translation app that operates in a range of languages. On the mobile front, British travel business offers a Talking Translator-a free service that provides text and audio translations of holiday phrases from English into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German.

Still-we like Martinair's integrated approach, bundling tailor-made travel information with a talking translator, and offering it to customers when they book their tickets. Other airlines to follow?


Content courtesy: