Ah…It’s that time of year. Sun is out. Vacation season is here. While we’re browsing online for weekend getaways by car or flights across the ocean, vacation planning takes a lot of work, research, and preparation. Travel apps are increasingly becoming a source of vacation planning while we’re on the go. At best, a travel app inspires us for these ‘excited-to-go’ mobile moments. Or at worse, they can bore us to death and then we don’t open the app again. Uninstall. Delete. Ouch. That’s the worst thing that could happen to a travel brand, just as bad as that poor review we might write on the app store…
So how can travel marketers avoid the worse case scenario? It all comes down to app retention. And travel apps have a lot of growing pains to overcome these unique challenges. It’s not only a fiercely competitive industry, but the app stores are increasingly becoming more competitive by the day. Users have more choices than ever. So why should they return and open your travel app again? Let’s find out.
In this blog post, we will explain three tips that will help you drive travel app retention. Some research in this blog post stems from two Google reports, one on “How mobile influences travel decision-making” and one called, “How Travel Marketers Can Own the Customer Journey.”
Owning the travel experience by targeting your customers the very moment they download your travel app is critical. In the initial stage of onboarding a customer, in general, is the first step. See what kind of registration profile information was captured, but also study for a day or two what your users do inside your app with in-app beacons.
1. Target Users During Their Travel Research
Target your users ahead of time! During their vacation research and prior to their departure date, Google claims that –
26% decide on a vacation destination three to five months before departure, while 19% decide more than six months out. (Google)
Let’s say you’re promoting a summer flight sale on your flight booking app. Whether you’re a meta search brand or a direct airlines app, consider the following activities you need to monitor in user behavior:
- Search destinations used inside app
- Screens (or pages) within app touched
- Time spent on certain screens
- Frequency of certain keyword destinations used (also from web/mobile site)
In order to track user behavior inside your app, one must possess a mobile engagement platform that’ll deep link or tag certain screens with tracers and also know as in-app beacons. Additionally, such a platform needs to track the time spent in the app regardless of device type.
2. Be There at the Right Moment & Right Place
Location (or destination) plays a huge role in the traveler’s customer experience. Depending on where they’re going, you can push out a message when they arrive at their destination like the airport. If you’re an airline, deploy a couple of beacons in the airport. Ask how their flight experience was and what they can do to make it better next time.
Or let’s say you’re a hotel brand and you’d like to enhance better customer experiences. Take into consideration this:
85% of leisure travelers decide on activities only after having arrived at the destination. (Google)
While most leisure travelers planning activities happen last minute, go ahead and trigger a pre-designed checklist (rich message or in-app message) on what they can do when they arrive at your hotel. Or trigger to your guest an in-app survey or poll and ask them what they’d like to do. Sports, shopping, nature activities, restaurants, concerts, car rentals, tips on getting around, are just a few examples, but ultimately, the activities depend on what’s available for guests.
3. Explore ALL Touchpoints Throughout Omnichannel Experience
Inevitably, your users will use a multitude of sources to do their vacation planning. Touchpoints could mean different devices, channels, locations, online or offline sources, thus take into consideration the entire omnichannel journey your users experience!
94% of leisure travelers switch between devices as they plan or book a trip. (Google)
Check out which Youtube videos they watch, if they Google what the weather is or will be, search for directions on Maps or if they look at Yelp for restaurant reviews, etc. Regarding location proximity technologies, geo-fencing or indoor beacons are fantastic tools which show where your users are most receptive to your offer, if you have the right mobile engagement platform. Additionally, ensuring your data is synchronized through proper integrations with your CRM, eCommerce or POS into your mobile engagement platform, is key to understanding your customers better and therefore seeing all their touchpoints in omnichannel experience.
46% of travelers with smartphones say they make their decision on mobile, but then book on another device. (Google)
Lastly, let’s talk about analyzing customer data in the omnichannel experience. Actionable data needs to measure the initial stages of travel research/planning to the final conversion of the booking. Having the right mobile analytics platform is absolutely fundamental to unlocking great omnichannel experiences.