Last year Travelport put out its Future of Apps report, and now the company has released its 2018 Mobile Travel Trends guide. I want to thank them for sponsoring this post. Have a read through and download the report to learn more about what Travelport is seeing in the mobile world.
2018 brings new challenges for travel brands with an digital ecosystem that’s seemingly expanding at “Big Bang” velocity. Inevitably travel brands are asking what tech do we think will be a fad and what will really take off this year? And, Where should I invest my digital budget for the year ahead?
We’ve uncovered the 8 key trends that travel brands need to watch out for in 2018. From bots and mobile messaging to PWAs and mobile analytics, we reveal the biggest trends that will impact the mobile travel industry in 2018 in our infographic.
The free Mobile Travel Trends 2018 guide and accompanying research are the culmination of interviews with Travelport Digital specialists, surveys with 55 industry professionals and primary research carried out with 955 end-travelers across the globe.
In this article we’re going to take a closer look at some of the trends highlighted in this ebook.
The changing face of mobile apps
Mobile apps offer huge benefits over web in terms of usage (85% of time spend on mobile is using an app1), speed and of course user experience. But how to do travel brands provide this great user experience to people who don’t want to download their app?
Enter the Progressive Web App (PWA); a mobile application built using the latest innovations in web standards to deliver a near native mobile user experience that creates a fluid experience across platforms. By building a new SEO-friendly and PWA enabled website you’ll reduce your operating costs and your travelers will get a rich, dynamic and mobile app experience without being asked to download, install or register anything.
There are a number of advantages that PWAs offer over mobile websites or native apps such as offline data access, greater accessibility, quicker response times, better security and less maintenance as every user will get the latest version when they visit the app.
So is the native app dead? Absolutely not. App store downloads of travel apps are still on the rise and PWAs are still very much in their infancy. The key takeaway for travel brands is that if you have a native app continue to build upon the rich UX and functionality that it offers but get the balance right between improving their existing native app and exploring new ecosystems that extend beyond mobile apps. If you haven’t launched a travel app yet, plan to start off with a native app but look to include a PWA roadmap as part of your longer-term strategy.
Chat, messenger…go to where the customer is
“Rather than trying to move 1.3 billion Chinese to our app, we moved to WeChat. We should be on apps that people really use! Not just do our own”. This quote from KLM’s VP of Digital Strategy Guido van Til perfectly encapsulates the theme of one of 2018’s most dominating trends. In 2018 we will see the dawn of a new age, the age of the customer – and in this new age the customer is wherever, whenever and on whatever platform they choose to be – and they’ll expect your brand to be there too.
As well as interacting with your app (on their phone, watch or tablet) travelers will also want to chat to your virtual assistant on Facebook Messenger about their booking, use iMessage to change their seats or show their boarding pass to the gate agent within their WeChat app. This shift in the communication landscape is also apparent in the numbers the industry is seeing – in just 90 days Oscar (the Air New Zealand bot) had 55,000 conversations2, typically receiving between 300 and 350 queries a day and KLM have issued 1.4 million online boarding passes via messenger3.
If as a travel brand you are not on a platform where and when the traveler wants you to be next year, don’t expect that ‘demand’ to be there for much longer come 2019.
Voice – the age of touch could soon come to an end
With 40% of adults now using voice search once a day4, it has without doubt earned its place in our list of top trends for 2018. In an increasingly time-sensitive world where we are constantly multi-tasking, it’s easy to understand why there has been such an uptake of a technology that enables us to search faster (we speak 150 words per minute vs type 40 ) and do so hands-free. Take easyJet for example – in the first 4 months of launching their Alexa skill in June 2017 they received over 30,000 flight status voice searches5.
From getting flight options and departure times to booking a hotel and Uber, nearly all aspects of a trip can now be managed through voice across multiple devices, from smartphones and smartwatches, to home devices and in car infotainment systems.
Developing markets are driving the next wave of voice powered technology. In the past few years we have witnessed a regional explosion in areas such as India and Africa. By the end of 2016 North America accounted for 95% of Alexa and Google Assistant users. Fast forward to 2021 and over 47% of voice device users will be in Asia and Oceania5.
The sooner travel brands realize voice search is here to stay and start to go to where their customers are by giving themselves a voice, the better equipped they will be to have a more meaningful conversation with today’s modern traveler.
What’s clear is 2018 will bring an abundance of opportunities for travel brands to be clever about the way they engage with travelers in a way that suits them best. It’s no longer about just ‘apps’, travel brands need to also be on other mobile channels including chat, messenger and voice. Travel brands need to understand and embrace emerging technologies that leverage mobile to further enhance the customer experience.
To discover more about the key trends that will dominate 2018 you can download the full 2018 Mobile Travel Trends ebook here.
While you’re here…
Travelport Digital have also conducted primary research with 955 end travelers across 3 different continents to discover how people are using mobile and apps for travel.
If you’re interested in finding out more why not download the free research report here.
1 TechCrunch, ‘Consumers spend 85% of time on smartphones in apps but only 5 apps see heavy use’, June 2015
2 & 3 Travelport Digital Mobile Travel Trends 2018
4 Travelport Digital End Traveller Mobile Research 2017
5 Travelport Digital Mobile Travel Trends 2018