Travel Planner - Your Travel Companion
Mobile has opened a world of new ways for travel agencies and travel management companies (TMCs) to engage with customers. Think about it: 10 years ago, people walked into your agency or picked up the phone to book a trip. After that, you usually didn’t hear from them again unless they were confirming their details or calling to complain!
Now, travel agencies and TMCs are moving away from the old model of one-off booking transactions to offering meaningful engagement with travelers from the minute they book, right through to the end of their trip – all thanks to the evolution of mobile.
Having your own travel app is the best way to enhance the service your agency delivers to customers, but if you’ve never launched an app, it can be difficult to know where to begin. There will be lots of questions floating around your head – how much will it cost, how long will it take, who will build it, will it be a success?
To help you along the way, we’ve outlined the key factors to consider when building your first travel app. Read on to discover more about what the process involves and how you can ensure your app stands out from the crowd.
Why build an app?
When you are looking for internal buy-in to start developing your mobile app, you’ll need to be ready to answer one of the first questions your board will ask: “Do we really need an app?” When building your business case, there are some important factors to highlight.
Firstly, for travel agencies, mobile is critical because it is the only device your consumers carry at all stages of their journey; when searching and booking travel, as they go through the airport, when they’re at their destination and when they complete their return leg. Without a mobile app your agency has a limited presence in the traveler’s end-to-end journey.
Picture what an app could do for your customers. You can send a push notification to remind travelers to check in. At the airport you can let them know of any flight changes, cancellations, gate changes or what belt their baggage will be arriving on. When they arrive in their destination you can send information to make sure they stay within policy, like what’s included in their hotel package, preferred local vendors and what their daily expense limit is.
Here are some other points that will help you to convince your board that you need a mobile app.
- Mobile significantly reduces the overheads associated with servicing the traveler by providing self-serve tools literally into their hands.
- An app provides for additional revenue opportunities through more bookings and ancillary sales.
- The shift to digital means agencies can be more competitive, winning new business in the corporate space in particular.
Mobile app versus web
At this point you might say, “I can do all of this through desktop, email or my responsive website”. This is true to a certain extent, but there are external factors at play that can prevent you from getting a message to travelers quickly through these channels. For example, if you are emailing your customers to let them know of a flight delay, you're depending on them having internet access and checking their emails regularly to get the message on time.