The Secret Formula to Delighting Travel App Users| By |Katherine Frangos

travel app

In the last couple of years, the Online Travel Industry (OTA) has faced major changes as consumers become more mobile-first. We’ve seen the rise of metasearch engines. To the fierce competition of Google’s subunits like Google Flights, Google Maps, Yelp. Also, Trip Advisor and the interesting turnout of the sharing economy with giants like Airbnb, Couchsurfing and even car-sharing services like Uber just to shake things up.

Challenge and Opportunity with Travel App Users

All of the competition leaves OTAs in a difficult position. They must make big amendments in 2016 in order to compete in the heated travel landscape. There’s no better way to stand out than with an exceptional travel app keeping your travel users hooked. With the widely accepted notion that we’ve shifted from desktop to mobile, let alone the fact that most digital time is spent on apps[1], we (as mobile users) expect to be served in the best way possible, quickly and personally.

Regarding the wide array of travel audiences, from the bargain flight scavengers who need deals, the business travelers who love their perks and comfort, to the travel enthusiasts, like travel bloggers, who live to travel all have one thing in common. They want convenience, they want to go, and they want it now with the effortless push of a finger. You may think your users are satisfied with your travel app. But mostly likely, they’re not. Your travel app could offer so much more.

The Secret Formula to Delight Travel App Users

1. Engage Mobile Customers with Hyper Context and Ultra-Personalization

Let’s say you’re participating at a travel event. You’re representing your company’s brand at your designated booth. A visitor approaches your booth. You start off the conversation with a hello and ask the visitor a few basic questions. Maybe you ask them what brings them to the travel event or where they’ve traveled to in the past, where they want to go next. Additionally, you ask the visitor if something looks interesting. You wouldn’t want to burst out loud and say, “Hi, I’ve got a great cruise to Alaska for you – do you want to book now!?” Only to find out that the visitor hates cruises. Right? That’s not a good way to engage a person in a conversation.

Unfortunately, this happens a lot with mobile marketing. Especially in the form of push notifications and push messages which are often misused in the wrong context. So how is it done right? First, there is a key capability you need before you can start engaging. You must have actionable data before you can engage. Actionable data can include, but not limited to, data coming from a profile, CRM system, Loyalty program or POS data, location awareness data, social data, weather data, and eventually in-app engagement like app usage and engagement preferences data.

Once you have these different data sources, you must synchronize it all into a manageable mobile CRM space. Therefore, you’ll engage your mobile customers with better precision and context. So let’s apply this capability into an OTA travel app example. For example, you are a large OTA engine which provides flight deals, hotel reservations, and rental cars.

Your customer is Julia. She’s in her mid-30’s and would like to plan a long weekend getaway with her husband. They live in New York City and want to escape the city heat to somewhere cool. Julia has booked a couple of hotels and flights on your website before. On her daily commutes via metro, she starts to browse your mobile site. However, she wants a quick fix, so she downloads your app instead.

After she registers her details, actionable data coming from the CRM system pulls profile information like her name, birthday, city, etc. Then it gets synchronized and enriches her user profile on the mobile engagement platform.

1. Make a Good First Impression

Now you have a few seconds to impress Julia. Give her the best first impression of your app. Instead of leading her to the main interface of the app, welcome her to the app through an asset*. For instance, show an exciting video about escaping the chaos and heat of New York City to cooler places from the breezy piers of San Francisco, to the cooler shores of New England.

The reason why Julia was sent a personalized video is because of geo-targeting. The geo-targeting is based on GPS newly derived data identifying her location and the location’s weather. Giving users assets with ultra-personalization is the key to making a great first impression. After that event, automate the next engagement with a welcome survey.

“Hey Julia, it’s like 92 degrees in New York. Too hot! Let us take help you escape the heat for a while and find you a place to relax” (worth 50 points if she fills out.) Leave an option for her to opt out of filling in the survey, in case she already knows where she wants to go. Then engage her later with a different asset.

Images-TravelPost01-03

With your sharp marketing team, delegate what type of questions you’d like to ask Julia. Therefore, you can get to know her on an even more hyper contextual manner. Does she want a holiday deal or wants to treat herself to something more luxurious? What is her budget? How long can she travel for? Is she a beach bum or prefers a mountain retreat? Does she want to go to a faraway place and fly or somewhere local where she can drive?

The questions are truly limitless. It also depends on how much initial data you have (from the synchronization) and how much you want to further understand in Julia’s upcoming travel plans. Then thank her for taking the time to fill out the welcome survey and give her 50 points. The points should save automatically into her in-app wallet. Now you have a better idea regarding what she wants in her next trip. Automate the next engagement revealing her suggested trip results. “Julia, based on your criteria, we think you’d have a great time in Cape Cod for your long weekend getaway. Sounds nice?”

Images-TravelPost02-03Display the next engagement with an inspirational visual of a Cape Cod light house and shoreline. Let her read things to do there. Where/how to book a reservation. How to get there. And give her tips on budget, logistics, etc.

2. Keep Travelers Delighted with a Loyalty Rewards Program

A loyalty program not only based on miles or cash!

Now let’s say you have a large business traveler customer base. In fact, you have a rewards program for flights. With the synchronization of data from your flyer’s rewards program, now you can begin to segment your audience. As an example – you want to segment business travelers who have to go abroad or overseas from the States to other parts of the globe, on a very frequent basis.

This type of audience desires the best comfort, the most convenience, the ones that have a big corporate budget, and need accommodation with the highest degree of excellence, and have high expectation of your brand to treat them seriously. These folks must make their meetings on time no matter the circumstances. So they despise poor communication on delays, long layovers, and hate long lines that they can’t go through as “priority.” Your goal is to create as much traction with this example target group and increase their loyalty through your app.

This means you’d like them to use your app more frequently, spend more time in the app, read your updates, engage with your app, refer their friends and colleagues and ultimately spend more money. Wouldn’t it be cool to reward these activities through loyalty points? Creating an innovative Mobile loyalty program is a great way to entice your business travelers. It could introduce refreshing, new ways of getting points for example: How about sending a leisure traveler who is flying to a certain destination a free guide with 5 “must see” highlights which include some tourist spots and then some cafes and restaurants and how about telling that person that If he or she visits them all – then they would get 50 points.

This is going to totally surprise the unsuspecting customer. However, generosity is very appreciated and shows your customers that loyalty goes two ways. For instance, would be to send a lounge invitation to the customer who is at the airport or at the hotel and even spice it up a bit and give them a couple of points for visiting the lounge. And finally, why not give some points for in-app trip feedback or reviews as well as giving some points for checking in into the app or sharing their itinerary with their friends on Facebook. The point is (pun intended), what criteria should equate to the number of loyalty points? It’s up to your mobile marketing team to determine that in your mobile loyalty strategy.

So they despise poor communication on delays, long layovers, and hate long lines that they can’t go through as “priority.” Your goal is to create as much traction with this example target group and increase their loyalty through your app. This means you’d like them to use your app more frequently, spend more time in the app, read your updates, engage with your app, refer their friends and colleagues and ultimately spend more money. Wouldn’t it be cool to reward these activities through loyalty points?

Creating an innovative Mobile loyalty program is a great way to entice your business travelers. It could introduce refreshing, new ways of getting points for example: How about sending a leisure traveler who is flying to a certain destination a free guide with 5 “must see” highlights which include some tourist spots and then some cafes and restaurants and how about telling that person that If he or she visits them all – then they would get 50 points.

This is going to totally surprise the unsuspecting customer since he is not expecting to get these points – however generosity is very appreciated and shows your customers that loyalty goes two ways. Another example would be to send a lounge invitation to the customer who is at the airport or at the hotel and even spice it up a bit and give them a couple of points for visiting the lounge.

In conclusion, why not give some points for in-app trip feedback or reviews as well as giving some points for checking in into the app or sharing their itinerary with their friends on Facebook. The point is (pun intended), what criteria should equate to the number of loyalty points? It’s up to your mobile marketing team to determine that in your mobile loyalty strategy.

3. Create On-going Mobile Journeys Your Users Won’t Forget

If you’ve read up to this point, then you’ve learned the value of engaging users. Engaging specifically in a hyper contextual basis through the power of assets and actionable data. and you’ve learned the value of an innovative loyalty rewards program integrated into your app. Now, we’ve come full circle.

The Mobile Journey. A mobile journey should constitute a series of actions and scenarios that the mobile user experiences. Depending on what, when, where and how users engage (all should be supported by an Analytics tool, tracking real-time actionable data) will give the mobile marketer sharper precision as they create the next journey for that particular user. Think of the mobile journey like a tree. Your user starts off at the trunk.

MB-customer-journey_Travel_web

By picking up various new data, utilizing existing data and reacting to events or behavior by or around the user, we can engage with the right user with the right engagement at the right location, time and format with relatively good accuracy and context. Based on how the users will react (or not) and engage back with your brand, and based on the progress of the customer journey, we will be able to even further improve accuracy and context as the user advanced in the “tree” and the various branches. By setting up the various branches or scenarios which constitute the various persona driven customer journeys – we can drive highly personalized mobile experiences which will be looked upon very favorably by the customers and create satisfied customers who will see your brand in a very good light. Here is one completed

By setting up the various branches or scenarios which constitute the various persona driven customer journeys – we can drive highly personalized mobile experiences which will be looked upon very favorably by the customers and create satisfied customers who will see your brand in a very good light. Here is one completed closed-loop journey that Anna experienced when she downloaded a fictitious app, TravelAir. Note* keep in mind, the mobile marketer should always create on-going mobile journeys so that when Anna finished this one, the marketer has an already pre-made designed closed loop journey read for Anna. Ultimately, it’s up to both the mobile customer and the mobile marketer to decide how the journey goes.

FINAL WRAP UP:

Your travel app deserves the better. We can apply this formula in order to launch your app for success. Find out more by seeing a demo here: See Demo

[1] Source: Flurry Analytics, comScore, Pandora, Facebook, NewMarketShare Note: US June 2015

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