Mobile Mania in the Travel Industry – Don’t Forget Your Business Basics

Why should travel be left behind?

According to which quoted Dara Khosrowshahi, President and CEO of Expedia — 10% of the online travel agencies across all platforms are now mobile, and up to 20% of Hotwire bookings are now transacted on smartphones and tablets. Barney Harford, CEO of Orbitz, states that 21% of his company’s hotel bookings and about 10% of its air bookings are now made on mobile devices. Steve Hafner, CEO of Kayak said that the company’s mobile app has been downloaded 20 million times, and that accounts for 20% of all its search volume.

According to a ComScore study, almost 95% of their sample size searched for local information on their smart device, more than 50% searched for travel information on their mobile and close to 20% actually booked their travel on mobile. Although consumers get a bit conservative when it comes to booking, the numbers are still enough to tell us that the mobile scape is changing the travel scape…big time.

Just imagine…

Imagine — you are watching the African Safari in your Smart TV, the new iPad Mini catches it and offers the best package for an African Safari for you and guess what! You go for it. Your favorite airline knows your travel history and encourages your close friends to join you. The hotel chains in Africa know you and provide you options with free pick-ups and drop-offs. And yes, they offer you a king size bed room facing the sea and complimentary drinks!

That is the power of intelligent mobile solutions?

But travel still a hard nut to crack!

Travel marketers are single mindedly looking to develop mobile solutions for their now mobile clients to provide real-time, on the spot context and location based services. However, it is not just about developing ‘a ‘solution more than it is developing ‘the’ solution. According to a recent survey by PhocusWright and Kony Solutions, 31% of US travelers are less likely to use a mobile application after a malfunction. And why should the customers not have a high expectation from their mobile experience when booking their 6k worth business class ticket to Singapore.

The rules of engagement!

According to Jennifer Bosavage, there are three basic rules which should be kept in mind when designing a mobile solution in this vertical. Apps done with this in mind are unlikely to fall on their face. BTW, these three principles would be true for any app in any vertical.

One, know your audience — the need of business travelers is different from that of leisure travelers. Business travelers need more flexibility in their travel plan and more options for affiliated services such as car, hotel, and airport lounges etc. They are also a part of several loyalty programs — so the mobile app needs to integrate with such a program. Leisure travelers have different needs – getting more information about a group of family or product offerings etc.

Web or native, which way to go — this depends on a lot of factors starting from the available budgets and resource bandwidth for development, testing and maintenance. Native apps provide a rich user experience, granular level programming capabilities, better opportunities to differentiate products, easy to integrate with other apps and provide locations storage capabilities.

Your travel app and the macrocosm — before you jump into application development, there is a need to ask a few big picture questions — what is this app going to do? Who are we targeting with this app? Is it useful to that target community? Is this app a revenue or information generating channel?



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