Ebookers believes it has stolen a march on its rivals by taking a first strategic step into mobile with a new site designed for customers to use on their handsets.


The European online travel agency (OTA)  hopes the new site will help customers research, plan and prepare to book while on the move, saving them time and effort.


Unashamedly simple, the site has been developed with Handy Group over the last six months and initially will offer three paths to search flights, hotels and car hire separately.


In the search results it offers users the chance to either email the chosen results to themselves, or someone else, or call to book.


Property photographs are available in the hotels path, but only one, although once a deal has been selected the page lists more that are available to view.


Further developments like a flights and hotel path and functionality to allow booking on mobiles are being considered but e-bookers said it wants to see how customers use the site first.


Tamer Tamar, ebookers president, said the focus has been on speed and convenience and giving customers the ability to research while they are out and about rather than sat at home or at work on their PC.


“Having more functionality would make the site slower and would probably have delayed our launch and we wanted to get this out pretty quickly and get people using it.


“We want to make sure e-bookers is the site you some to when you are planning your trip.


“People spend many hours planing their holiday, we want to make that is easier to do when people are commuting or out and about.


“We are really focused on the speed of the site and how we can make it easier for people to research and plan.


“Sometimes this is a really enjoyable process, but unfortunately it’s not always like that, particularly on week days when people don’t necessarily want to spend hours online when at home.


“This allows at least part of the process to be completed while you are sitting on a train. Compared to two years ago people are far more engaged with their mobile phones, partly due to advances like the iPhone.”


Tamar said the look and feel of the site, which has been available for two weeks before being officially launched today, was inspired by the simplicity of Google or Facebook home pages.


He claimed ebookers was one of the first in travel to develop a site specifically for use on mobiles and that the UK will be a testing ground before it is rolled out to other parts of Europe.


France and Ireland, which e-bookers groups in the same region as the UK, are likely to be next followed by Scandinavia.


Parent company Orbitz will also be watching how the service establishes itself here as it is developing similar functionality for brands in the US.


Tamar said such functionality is likely to be very popular in parts of the Far East, like Japan and South Korea, where handset ownership and use is particularly high.


In the last two weeks the site has attracted visitors from across the globe including Korea, the US and Switzerland proving, Tamar said, there is pent up demand for this sort of mobile service.