Will 2017 be the year your travel brand gets itself an app? You'd be wise to consider taking the plunge considering how much they can improve the lives of travellers, if done well.
'Done well' is the key here – there's no point building an app if it doesn't add to your customers' experience; you might as well spend the money ensuring your website can better cater to their needs.
As the Luxury Daily website explains, consumers are used to using first-class apps like Uber and Starbucks, which are able to simplify users' lives and anticipate their need,
Recently, the world's leading travel companies have struggled to deliver apps that "function reliably or offer an engaging, intuitive experience", Luxury Daily says.
With more consumers now using tablets and smartphones for travel-related exchanges than desktops – as per Adobe's findings – you can see why travel brands are keen to get involved in the app economy.
In the same breath, however, it's worth noting how a quarter of installed apps are never used by users, while the same amount are abandoned after the first use.
We reckon those percentages could be even higher for travel apps – travellers often complain about how difficult it is to change reservations, or worse, of being kicked off an app, requiring them to re-log-in and try again.
Other, more reliable travel apps, meanwhile, simply don't make the user's life any easier than if they were just using the website. When that's the case, it's hard to make an argument for keeping the app on the phone using up crucial storage space.
However, if you think you can build an app that do more than just recreate the desktop experience, here are some nuggets of advice to keep in mind as you go into 2017:
1. It doesn't always pay to be first
Virgin America only just unveiled its first mobile app earlier this year – but crucially it came fully formed. As well as offering users the ability to book flights, upgrade seats, check in, etc., it also has a few nice, unexpected features such as Spotify playlists based on travellers' destinations.
2. Save users time and effort
One recent survey found that most consumers credit simplification and convenience as the greatest influencers of mobile app satisfaction, as per Adobe. If your app can stop users from having to input their details every time, then, you could be on to a winner.
3. Automate where possible
Some of the best hotel apps are used to eliminate the entire check-in process – notifying guests where their rooms are available and providing them with a digital key.
4. Team the app with data analytics software
True personalisation – i.e. more than just knowing the customer's name – can set a brand apart. By linking your app with data analytics software you can attain the information to offer a perfectly bespoke experience for your customers.
5. Don't neglect your website
With all your focus on the app, it's easy to neglect your website and forget the fact that most of your customers are still stopping there. Your website still needs to be in tip-top shape even if your app is proving a winner.
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