It may seem like a magic trick: Turning a one-time customer into a repeat user of a travel company’s products and services. But in today’s global, interconnected travel industry, customer retention and the ability to entice travelers back to a certain travel company is becoming less of a mystery and more of a science thanks in large part to the development of mobile apps. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices have not only changed the way customers research and book their travel arrangements, but they’ve also fundamentally shifted the way travel companies view devices as tools for continued interaction and communication with would-be travelers.A study released last year reported mobile devices and related apps were one of the biggest drivers in how the average consumed media on a daily basis, with 88 percent of activity on smartphones and tablets stemming from apps.
With so much of today’s e-commerce dependent upon mobile apps as a way of customer engagement and transaction, travel companies are betting big on providing travelers with responsive, user-friendly applications to serve their booking and travel needs. To illustrate this point, here are a handful of ways mobile travel apps can help retain customers and forge long-term relationships between travelers and travel companies.
An important element in creating a repeat customer is customizing products and services to a traveler’s specific needs - in other words, travelers want to feel a travel company knows and understands their needs. For example, imagine a business traveler is curious about the weather at his or her destination. A travel company could provide within their app a weather function in which our business traveler can view current and future weather conditions for his arrival, potentially with links and offers for activities based on the weather forecast.
Customized services and integrations like this - be it travel for business, leisure, or a combination - provide travel companies a leg-up on the competition, but also gain valuable insights into the wants, needs, and priorities of their users. Positioning individual or customized offers is a critical value proposition in creating a lasting bond between the traveler and the travel company, and mobile apps provide travel companies with a quick, easy, and direct way in which to do this.
Today’s traveler - particularly millennials- want two seemingly disparate things: They want technology platforms to help them research, complete, and share bookings as conveniently as possible, but they also desire the personal touch of working with an actual travel agent. Mobile travel apps and their ability to forge a direct line of communication with travelers through chat functions, messaging services, and social media integrations provide the best of both worlds.
Whether it’s requesting feedback about an activity or excursion a customer booked, offering similar travel packages, or providing key information about trends in tourism and travel in the hopes of sparking interest in exploring new destinations or activities, mobile apps offer travel companies a direct channel with which to nurture current customer relations and potentially expand that customer-base via word of mouth on social media or travel review websites.
Deeper Customer Insights
Part and parcel to retaining customers and creating lasting business relationships is understanding the patterns and buying behaviors of today’s traveler. Because mobile travel apps allow travel companies to view and analyze what offers or destinations a travel views, when they viewed them, what bookings they completed, and any feedback the traveler provided about those bookings, travel companies can gain greater insight into the priorities and needs of their customers, which can help them source products and services designed to match previous purchases or viewing habits.
Mobile travel apps have more or less become a good testing ground where they can gain insights into the browsing and purchasing habits of their customers, and then acting on that data to create offers, discounts, promotions, and messaging that best targets a travel company’s demographic.
Whether it’s going paperless in providing customers with PDF files, digital receipts or confirmations, or perhaps even passports or other necessary travel documents, travel companies can use apps as a way to streamline transactions and provide travelers with the quick and easy e-commerce experience they’ve come to expect in today’s fast-paced, digital landscape. We’ve discussed before the need of today’s average traveler for agility and responsiveness across all points of a travel company’s value chain, especially given the competitive nature of today’s travel industry.
Not only does a travel company’s capability to provide transactional documents to customers via an app reduce the necessary resources and personnel to complete transactions, it also offers travelers peace of mind in knowing their accommodation information - confirmations, itineraries, boarding passes, etc - will be housed electronically for easy access in the future.