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Tourism Apps: Mobile Solutions for Your Business

November 17, 2015 Written by Maria Shestakova, Digital Marketer
In the first half of 2014, the number of Americans who booked holidays via smartphones increased up to 40%. Mobile travel and tourism applications have become a powerful source of communication between service providers and customers. You don’t think your business needs one? Here are some facts and entrepreneur success stories to reassure you.

Why travel apps are so important?

  • According to Cone Communications, mobile apps contribute to brand recognition and reputation;
  • About 70% of travelers from all over the world prefer to plan routes with the help of mobile software;
  • Most people who travel abroad rely on apps and other digital technologies: they book flights and hotel rooms, order meals and utilize translator programs;
  • Finally, smartphone applications are expected to sell 65 billion downloads in 2016.
Mobile Apps for Tourism Infographic

How can tourism companies benefit from mobile apps?

  • Travel agents who take advantage of digital technology are more likely to understand customer behavior and provide them with high-quality service. Mobile marketers and app developers offer numerous instruments to gather feedback, including NPS surveys and built-in review dialogs. User data analysis will give you a plenty of ideas for service improvement;
  • Going mobile is a powerful source of promotion. Users willingly engage in new media experiences; if your rivals still underestimate the power of mobile technologies, building an app is a strong competitive advantage. Applications also increase brand awareness, provide seamless web experience (less speed required) and prove to be an easy option for businessmen who failed to make their sites mobile-friendly;
  • Applications offer vast opportunities for revenue growth. Tour operators often utilize in-app advertising options, promoting goods and services demanded by travelers. For this purpose, you can partner with insurance companies and sports equipment retailers.

Mobile app ideas to draw inspiration from

Hotel Tonight is an application for smartphones, tablets and other digital devices. It provides an opportunity to book hotel rooms across South and North America, Australia and Europe. The app was launched 5 years ago; as of now, the software hit an 11 million download mark. With smart technologies dominating the market, Hotel Tonight’s developers decided to go mobile only, creating a new communication channel for businesses and clients. To study customers’ initial response towards the product, the company held beta testing. It was decided to market the app as a tool for last-minute hotel booking. The vendors heavily relied on word-of-mouth marketing strategies. With no multi-billion budgets, Hotel Tonight became an internationally recognized brand.
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Another successful case comes from the TouristEye founders. Back in 2010, Javier Escribano and Ariel Camus took a revolutionary path. They started developing an application that would allow users to plan their holidays and weekends outside their home town. Escribano and Camus went a long way, having crafted a database with numerous places to go and the app versions for both iOS and Android. Despite considerable development issues, they obtained 50 thousand users by 2011. Initially the new tourism and travel app was meant for free download; later the vendors began to charge people for additional services and eventually sold the project to Lonely Planet, the most prominent travel guide book publisher on the market. Well-known hospitality and tourism tycoons like Hilton Worldwide also go mobile. In order to increase brand awareness among the young generation, the company developed the Hilton HHonors app which allows travelers to choose rooms in over 4200 hotels and check in/check out via mobile. The HHonors members are also given guest-loyalty points which can be spent on various Hilton services. With the introduction of Digital Key, the company expanded the app’s functions to let people unlock hotel rooms with the help of an in-built tool. It remains to be seen whether Hilton’s new marketing strategies prove to be effective; yet, mobile technology is inevitable. The question is: how to develop an application that will surely propel your sales?

Tips from mobile app developers

Here’s what vendors with great experience in full-cycle application development suggest:
  • Design promotional coupons for in-app usage. Since people want to travel cheap, you can attract more customers by offering discounts and special deals;
  • Restrict app’s functionality to minimum to simplify booking process;
  • Craft user-friendly feedback dialogs to interact with travelers;
  • Employ virtual platforms (a wall chat, for instance) so that users could share their thoughts and experiences;
  • Utilize geotargeting (excessive information on places of interest, hotels and restaurants plus emergency phone numbers). Even if a traveler decides to address some other agency, he might return to you later;
  • Integrate social media accounts into your mobile application through “Share” options.
Smartphones are about to replace laptops and personal consumers – at least, in terms of web search and online purchases. Mobile apps provide new ideas and marketing instruments for revenue growth. If you want to outperform fellow travel agents and improve customer experience, it’s time your business went mobile!

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