Just under a month ago I wrote:

“this year we will start to see some airlines and their partners using ‘location‘ to get much higher conversion rates on ancillary revenue offers. There is so much happening in this area, that surely one of them has to stick. “

You can now add Google Latitude to the list of applications that airlines (and their ancillary revenue partners) should be keeping an eye on. The interesting part of this for airlines is not the social networking aspects, as other sites will do that faster and better, but the ability to target offers to consumers at the the right time, and more to the point, in the right place. The majority of people over 18 years of age will probably have no interest at all in having their friends and colleagues knowing where they are at all times, but for companies like Isango, Unaira, Viator etc that sell destination content, the potential that this type of application brings could be very interesting.

I’m fed up with people overstating the privacy concerns of the general populace, as it is just not matched by consumer behaviour. True, if you ask a man on the street he will tell you he hates the idea of someone else reading his email, but then he signs up for a Gmail account and lets Google read every email in order to serve him relevant advertising. The key difference is that people are happy to share a lot of personal data if they get something for it, and if they think it is a machine and not a person reading that data.

The most promising part of Latitude and similar services is not sharing your location with your friends, but sharing your location with companies that use computers (not humans) to offer you some perceived benefit. Destination content like events, concerts, day tours, restaurant discounts and the like at a location away from your usual home may be one very compelling use for this technology. And who knows when you are travelling away from home – the airline.

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