Would you book a holiday on your iPhone?

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By Mark Hodson, Editor, 101 Holidays

How long will it be before we start booking holidays on our smartphones?

Not long, according to the adventure specialist, Exodus, which claims its new iPhone app – to be launched next week – will be the first created by any UK tour operator.*

Exodus says it has already taken bookings on its Facebook page, where it has around 7,000 fans. It believes the iPhone will be used not just to research trips, but to make booking requests.

Sales and Marketing Director Ben Roseveare says the app cost £30,000 to develop but believes it’s money well spent. “We did it because so many of our clients are using mobile devices to access our website. We had 60,000 visits in six months from mobile devices, and four of those people used their phones to make an online booking. We hope the iPhone app will get 10,000 active users in the next six months.”

I’ve been testing a private beta version of the new app and found it impressive. Exodus has put the entire contents of its brochures on the app and made them easily searchable by trip type, destination and departure date – or a combination of all three.

When you find a holiday that takes your fancy, you can read user reviews, browse photos, see how many spaces are left, submit a booking request and get a PDF of the trip notes emailed to your inbox. There’s a list of 10 trips you must do before you die, and a section of late offers.

So far, so predictable. But the app also allows you to leave messages for other travellers booked on the same trip, and – between 8am and 8pm on a weekday – set up a live chat with a travel consultant. Nice touch.

There is also a “Reset your compass” function which displays a random holiday when you shake the phone or swipe an image of a compass. It’s a bit of a gimmick, but fun.

The app is not quite faultless. I found it slow to load, and the forum pages difficult to read on a small screen.

However, this is a bold step by a genuinely innovative travel company and I don’t expect we’ll have to wait long for other tour operators to follow suit with their own versions.

In the future your holiday bookings may be just a swipe away.

* I don’t know of any other tour operator with its own iPhone app, but if you do please leave a comment below. The Exodus app will be available on iTunes from 15 October.

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