Finding Success in the Travel App Landscape
March 23, 2016 10:56am
It’s hard to drive travel app adoption but signs show that some are succeeding, and some are not.
By Alan E. Young
With millions of apps to choose from, why should a consumer choose your travel app — and why should they keep it on their phone? It’s a question being debated across the industry as new travel apps take off, and others close their doors for good.
Before we discuss just why certain travel apps succeed, and other’s don’t, let’s take a look at the landscape itself: of the over two million apps on the major app stores, 5% are in the travel category. According to Criteo’s latest mobile commerce report, these travel apps are leading in purchases, rather than mobile web, accounting for 58% of mobile travel sales.
Add to that the fact that 35% of travel consumers who complete their purchases on a smartphone have used multiple devices leading up to their purchase, and it’s clear that travel companies need to make their services not only available for mobile but via an app.
The caveat here is that smartphone users uninstall mobile apps at high rates. Retention for an app for the first month on a mobile is just 36%, according to ITR. By month 12, that percentage has diminished to 11% — not good odds.
What’s more, for the travel industry specifically, there’s a noticeable trend of startup companies opening their doors, following trends in the industry, and then burning out. Often, these copycat startups just don’t stick.
However, there’s no need for pessimism, so long as the travel industry takes note of why users uninstall apps and startups avoid the pitfall of not being innovative enough to maintain relevancy.
ITR tracked data from across the app stores to see why users removed apps from their phones. The results are unsurprising: the majority of users uninstalled apps because they took up too much storage space, ran intrusive ads, and kept freezing, among other things.
ITR also compiled a list of common mistakes across apps, many relating to unsuccessful design, especially when the app has dead-end buttons and text that looks clickable but isn’t, or when app developers forget to consider screen size and orientation.
Aside from the more technical aspects of these apps, the travel industry specifically faces some difficulties. Take the case of Just Landed, a travel app which let users know when a plane touched down that shut down in Feb. 2016 after a four-year run.
The founder, Jon Grall, explained the decision in a letter, citing a complete lag in innovation for flight data, rising costs in both flight data and supporting services that work with flight data, and, of course, the deteriorating app economy as all contributing to the startup’s demise.
In this landscape, some apps are proving their own worth, like Hyper Travel, which, among its other perks, allows users to speak to real travel agents in addition to intelligent software. Rather than existing solely as an app, the company provides services embedded within existing texting and email apps — situating their services anywhere users could want them. This one has legs!
To find success, travel apps need to be innovative enough to keep users coming back to their simple-to-use solution and to use reliable data services that will be able to support an increase in demand. Luckily, there are plenty of examples out there of what to do and what not to do: the key is to take note of each.
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alan e. young
Alan E. Young is the President of Puzzle Partner Ltd. and Co-founder of Next Big Thing Travel & Hospitality (nbtworld.com). Previously, Alan has held executive level positions with startup companies such as Newtrade Technologies, (acquired by Expedia), Hotel Booking Solutions (acquired by IBS Software) and TrustYou. Alan is past Chair of The Board of Directors of The OpenTravel Alliance and been very involved with other industry associations most notably AHLA, HEDNA, and HTNG. With over two decades of experience in the travel and hospitality technology world, Alan specializes in helping innovative companies achieve winning performance and dramatic growth.
Contact: Alan E. Young
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