The Travel Industry is in the Dark About Mobile Apps

Why Travel Needs Mobile App Companies Hospitality and tourism companies suck. Flights are cancelled, reservations are lost, tours are overbooked, and apologizes are rarely genuine.…

Where are the apps for travel?

Why Travel Needs Mobile App Companies

Hospitality and tourism companies suck. Flights are cancelled, reservations are lost, tours are overbooked, and apologizes are rarely genuine. But where the travel industry lacks the most is in mobile development — a potential, yet unaddressed, solution to these problems.

Browse through mobile app markets with keywords such as “hotel” or “travel” and rarely will you be matched with what you are searching for. Travel giants seeking to capture new customers and retain existing customers constantly overlook the importance of working with mobile app companies – and it shows. While the largest chain hotel companies that operate in the US have begun mobile app development, their beginning efforts are sluggish, bugged, and extremely limited in customer functionality.

At face value, investing in technology not directly related to service functions may seem like a prudent decision. However, given the movement of technology towards increased purchase mobility, such a move may not be so unreasonable. In fact, mobile app development is a powerful way for hospitality companies to parallel intangible travel experiences in a digital space. For a self-proclaimed experiential industry that generates 8.7-percent of the US GDP, the lack of investment in the mobile future of travel is truly astounding.

Back to the Future

According to statistics collected by Statista, nearly 30-percent of respondents would consider booking a vacation through mobile web access in the next five years. In the coming year alone, nearly 10-percent of the respondents said they would consider booking a vacation through mobile web access.

Increasing purchase intention over mobile web

The numbers suggest that vacation booking through mobile web will continue to grow at a steady rate. While Statista does not break down the growth of mobile web purchase intention by year past 2012, projected purchase intent appears to triple year over year. Following this trend, vacation bookings over mobile web access may well be over 50-percent in the coming decade.

Statista does not make a distinction between mobile website access and mobile app usage, but it is clear the usage of the two mediums are highly correlated. As mobile web continues to grow, the focus will shift more and more to the development of the future of greater functionality — building mobile apps.

The world is experiencing a slowly developing digital genocide – the death of the web. As mobile apps become the mainstay of how we connect wirelessly, desktop web access becomes, for some industries, more obsolete. We see this behavior now; webpages become less visited and traffic from mobile apps continues to grow.

And this behavior is only going to continue.

Show Me The Money

Economic development is never ignored. Companies follow the flow of capital and growing demand for their products. Travel companies are no different. China, Brazil, India, and Russia have seen an explosive growth in hotels, retail, and tourism. However, as hospitality companies expend resources to satisfy the physical demand for their product, they neglect the parallel demand to streamline their services on mobile devices.

China's 2012 Smartphone Market Dominance

As China is poised to overtake the US as the largest smartphone market in 2012, many travel companies are just beginning to float their mobile concepts by mobile app developers — in the US. And China is only the beginning; India and Brazil are projected to nearly double their smartphone market share by 2016. The short-term consequences of being ill equipped to match mobile app demand means potential bookings lost and profits foregone. In the long-term, tourism companies ill-equipped to undergo full deployment in new markets will find themselves boxed out by companies who can satisfy consumer demand for a physical and mobile product.

Which Way Now?

Mobile app deployment is not a single, one-shot investment. Particularly in the service heavy travel industry, mobile applications will have to be continually refreshed and renewed to interest the customer. This means continuous testing of mobile apps, educating customers to use mobile apps, and deployment and redeployment to add greater functionality. It means work and lots of it. It means that some customers will be lost in the process.

But it also means an always-on connection to the customer. It means greater insight about the customer and the ability to better tailor the experience for the mobile app user. It means the ability to transfer and record some of the most powerful travel moments into the palm of someone’s hand. In an industry that prides itself on providing vivid experiences and tight-knit customer relations, the rewards of greater mobile app development would be staggering.

Hospitality and tourism companies are not incapable of change, but are cautious of trends that provide no added value to the service experience. But as mobile apps continue to establish themselves as a permanent fixture in the future of technology, the travel industry will have to respond. To remain relevant, fresh, and accessible hospitality groups will have no choice but to engage and invest in mobile app companies — good for us.

Graphics credit: Statista

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