The seemingly countless options in mobile devices can seem overwhelming, but with the right strategy, you can use the myriad of choices to your company’s advantage. Travelers waiting at the airport lounge may check their flight times on their tablets, switching to their phones as soon as the plane lands to confirm their hotel reservations.
More and more often, consumers shift from one device to another without a second thought. Building a comprehensive mobile strategy demands that companies support these multiple platforms. Travelers are much more likely to carry their phone or tablet with them than a laptop, so travel companies need to ensure their clients can easily make reservations, choose destinations, and change their plans in an instant. Customers want the ability to smoothly switch from one device to another, so smart businesses will give them options that provide them with the seamless flexibility they demand from their mobile devices.
A fractured market
During the first quarter of 2013, the number of customers who reported using multiple devices to make travel purchases increased dramatically, with 44 percent willing to spend more than $500 on travel expenses from their smartphones and tablets. In fact, more customers made their travel arrangements through mobile devices than laptops.
With the battle for the smartphone market showing no signs of slowing down, two major players control the majority of all smartphone sales. Apple and Samsung, the largest manufacturers in the field, continue competing neck and neck. In May, Samsung phones beat the iPhone in retail sales. While in the first quarter of 2013 overall, Apple was in the lead by 39 percent to 22 percent.
However, smartphones represent just one slice of the mobile market. Sales of tablets continue to skyrocket, increasing 142.4 percent in 2013 so far. While the iPad remains the leader in the tablet market, Android-based tablets overall actually beat Apple’s iOS by 57 percent to 40 percent.
The battle isn’t contained to Android versus Apple, either. Lenovo, the world’s largest PC vendor, just reported that combined tablet and smartphone sales surpassed sales from traditional PCs. While Lenovo does offer Android-based devices, sales of Windows tablets remain strong. It’s clear that focusing on a single app, or a single operating system, could exclude many potential customers.
Creating a winning app
Winning travel apps keep travelers engaged, providing them with suggestions based on their locations and interests. Including travel guides and purchase information is a great start, but the best guides also take advantage of the unique GPS services available on mobile devices. Offer customers the ability to make reservations and purchase tickets directly from their phones or tablets, directing them automatically to your nearest location. Allow users to discover nearby amenities or see photos shared by other customers during previous visits, or have a car sent to their exact location. The Travel Seeker HD app by Amadeus, for example, gives prospective clients detailed information regarding destinations, flight costs, and suggestions for the best time to visit.
Companies can easily track their customers’ mobile usage analytics with services such as Localytics, which provides real-time information on app downloads, device models, and locations, even triggering customers with in-app messages that take into account their engagement levels and behavior. Imagine being able to automatically suggest a visit to the hotel restaurant for breakfast when a user opens your app first thing in the morning, or offering to bundle their car rental when they make their flight reservations.
With 81 percent of mobile users preferring an app to a website for product research, and 79 percent for product reviews, a well-designed app that is compatible across multiple platforms could entice travelers to return to the same company throughout the duration of their trip, and keep them coming back as they plan their next one.
How can apps help your company?