Surprisingly, trumping the allure of Candy Crush, travel apps are more popular now than ever. Tnooz conducted a study that found that 60% of mobile users have now downloaded and used a travel-related smartphone app, vindicating the travel industry’s ascendancy up the app ranks.
According to Think with Google Travel Trends, there has been a tremendous 600% growth in mobile watch time of video travel diaries and blogs in the past two years. Before going to vacation, people want to know everything about the place they are planning to visit – from what fun experiences they might have to how their hotel room will look like.
At the same time, 55% of travelers claim that they have to check too many sources of travel information to make a decision. People look for more frictionless assistance, they belive that travel brands should tailor information and trip experiences based on their individual preferences. Fortunately, recent tech-based innovations can help to achieve that and using the power of modern technologies is getting increasingly popular in travel application development.
What trends should travel brands take into consideration when designing or re-designing an app?
The buzz surrounding AI-chatbots continues to grow within the technology sector. Want a digital personal shopping assistant? There’s a bot for that. Want a specialised advisor on hand to answer your questions about beach holidays? There’s a bot for that too.
UK holiday company On The Beach is one of the many travel brands to tap into this technology, through their FAQ based ‘Ask Alison’ feature they’ve made available on their website and mobile app. The virtual chatbot pops up once you enter the app, allowing users to type in any question and receive an instantaneous response, replicating one on one interaction.
The way these chatbots mimic human responses is impressive, through pre-programmed interactions which allow users to interact in a fully natural manner with the AI and subsequently enhance customer service. This approach is called natural language processing, and it is becoming a common, widespread feature of travel mobile apps. However, many argue that we have a long way to go until these bots are fully developed and can handle the everyday complexities of customer complaints.
Another impressive form of AI that is likely to come into fruition this year is supervision. Last November marked a defining breakthrough in this new technology within the travel sector, with tech wizards Blippar releasing an AR-based app to customers around the world. The app named AR City helps users navigate over 300 cities worldwide using ‘urban visual positioning’ – an industry-wide breakthrough in location-based AR/VR.
Incorporating 3D technologies, users follow the directions whilst names of buildings and streets appear in front of them, complete with informational hotspots to find out more. Furthermore, flight tracker app Flightradar 24 has incorporated a bonus feature called Augmented Reality View, which identifies planes when you point your camera to the sky, providing users with specific flight information.
Evidently, the development of computer vision technology is widespread amongst the travel sector, with many more companies buying into the innovation to enhance the usability and attraction of their apps. As it threatens to revolutionize the travel app industry, perhaps supervision is no longer a distant dream of pioneering brilliance.
Blockchain for payments
Recent developments in online payment options propose yet another factor that could transform travel app development in the forthcoming months.
Blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies have impacted online economies massively, none more so than the tourism industry. The travel sector appears to stand out as one of the earliest adopters of this new wave of e-commerce, which is slowly but surely transcending its trade onto mobile applications.
Understandably, travellers want a safe currency they can take around into different countries which is widely accepted. The premise of blockchain technology adheres to the fluidity of movement through its simplistic nature; such as eradicating third parties and encouraging the direct transfer of funds. Perhaps that’s why we’re seeing leading travel companies like Expedia joining the Bitcoin travel sphere, through incorporating cryptocurrency payment into both their website and partnering booking application.
With rigorous research going into these new initiatives, will 2018 see blockchain and bitcoin/other cryptocurrencies become a mainstream payment option for travel brands?
One of the golden rules in marketing is that the more you know about a lead, the better your chance to convert. As a consequence, over the past ten years, digital data gathering techniques have evolved into machine-driven technologies, targeting specific customers and gather islets of information about them.
Past purchasing tendencies, search history, spending averages, you name it. The vast range and depth of data companies can access is scaremongering, but it’s fully justifiable when looking at boosts to their revenue. Companies utilize the data collected by directing fully personalized marketing messages to the consumer, subsequently generating more sales.
On the whole, e-commerce mobile apps benefit massively from data mining, vindicated through Amazon’s reported 29% increase in sales after integrating product recommendations in 2014.
However, the travel app industry is one of the many who has pounced on the opportunity to achieve personalized marketing. Through collating consumer behaviour insights, companies can provide app users with recommendations for hotels, destinations and even flight times that may suit their unique lifestyle. Furthermore, predictive analytics can be leveraged by travel companies to forecast the future of their business to increase engagement levels, drive sales and make more informed decisions.
One thing that travel app developers need to take into consideration when using predictive analytics is GDPR, which comes into force on 25 May 2018, setting out stricter policies about how organizations collect, store and use customer’s data through enhancing consumer rights. Travel companies will have to review their current data collection processes to adhere to the new rulings, which could potentially limit the volume of data they can access. Subsequently, this threatens to hinder predictive analytics, on the whole, suggesting companies may have to think of smarter strategies to reach their market.
These are travel industry trends that are likely to fuel the evolution of digital technology in this business sector. As travel companies embed innovations in their services, we can expect to see further progress of personalization, flexibility, virtual experiences as well as other exciting developments.