A fundamental shift has taken place in travel over the last two years towards app use on mobile, Eyefortravel delegates were told this week.
Paul Barnes, northern Europe and Middle East director of developer App Annie, said there has been a 50% increase in downloads and up to 150% increase in the amount of time people are spending on travel apps.
“Something really remarkable has happened in travel over the last two years,” he said. “There has been a huge shift in what mobile means.”
Barnes said the number of travel apps people keep on their phones has been increasing although the numbers appear to be capping off in mature markets like Germany, France and the UK.
He said the question for travel firms is will it be their app that users come back time and again to use.
Airlines have embraced the app revolution with monthly active users up 150% across the board in the last two years, said Barnes.
EasyJet now sees one in four bookings made on its highly acclaimed app, a four to five times increase on two years ago.
“There is a lot to learn from the airline industry about some of the things they have been doing right,” Barnes said.
Apps play a part throughout the entire customer journey from dreaming to booking, pre-trip and within trip planning and post-trip sharing.
But Barnes said it was not necessarily travel apps setting the standards, with WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram all heavily used for sharing experiences.
“Consumer expectations of how your apps should work and what services they should get from them is not set by other travel apps. It’s really important to understand that.”
Barnes said the travel sector should appreciate it is a real privilege to be a chosen app to have a presence on a person’s smartphone.
“It’s something you need to respect – do not burn their battery life or send them too many notifications, but use the opportunity to deepen relationships with them.”
Travel should use data to understand customer usage of their apps, drive loyalty and understand what other apps they use to build partnerships with affiliated brands, added Barnes.
“Partnerships are incredibly important whether within travel or within other sectors,” he said.
“Any travel player needs a strategy that’s app-based. It’s a opportunity to engage on a different level.”