The whole world has literally shifted online a decade ago, with smartphones bringing services down to the size of your palm. Mobile technology had painted the most convenient way of catering to your daily work without so much as leaving the comfort of your homes or the warmth of your office seats. Their influence has touched every single industry including the travel and tourism sector. The latter has gained a strong online presence with their websites, courtesy the efforts put up by travel agency website developers. But, overlooking the importance of owning mobile-optimized website and a fitting application can prove to be detrimental for their businesses, which is, again, for obvious reasons.
Besides being the most convenient option for young travelers, the rationale behind building mobile applications for your online/offline travel agency is huge.
Why go mobile???
Now, as per Statista, the travel and tourism industry is expected to generate nearly 17.3 billion US$ of revenue this year, i.e. 2020. Out of this, a huge chunk of businesses come from smartphone applications and mobile-optimized travel websites.
In fact, 45% of travel app users agreed that notifications containing trip status updates were most useful, more so because 85% of smartphone users plan their leisure trips using smartphone applications, according to GoodWorkLabs.
A recent survey shows that Baby Boomers are expected to take three or four domestic trips and at least one international trip in the year of 2020, especially when many are retired and tight budget is no more a matter of their concern. And, this generation is more app savvier than you may think, with 65.5% and 55% of them owning a smartphone or a tablet respectively. This particular generation may not be overly active on Instagram but they look for mobile applications that deal with healthy living, shopping and traveling.
But if you are targeting the younger generation, then owning a mobile application for your travel agency becomes all the more important, because this generation practically eats, sleeps, works, and travel online. Most of them are young Insta-influencers, so aligning your services to their preferences is imperative for the survival of your agency.
Keeping this fact in mind, most online travel agencies have started using travel agency software to enhance the travel booking and planning experience of the holiday goers. And, the latter’s preferences are convenience, as well as, a one-stop mobile solution for all their problems. As Erika Costell, Influencer, YouTuber, Singer and Entrepreneur, puts in, “people want compelling ‘bite-size’ content that they can quickly consume”.
Here, you can argue saying that merely hiring a travel agency website developer will suffice to gain a strong online presence through a website or a mobile-optimized one. However, there is a hidden catch here. Ask a website developer! Or, proceed to the next section.
Mobile app or mobile website for your OTA
First and foremost, desktop internet usage has dropped from 54.86% to 46.5% wherein mobile users share market witnessed a rapid increase in the figure from 37.38% to 48.33% in 2019.
Now, every website developer for a travel agency or any other service knows a website has to be responsive to adjust easily to different screen sizes and layouts. Yet, there is a Big But here. And, i.e. there are huge possibilities to using mobile apps for your business since they offer –
- Push notifications
- Device vibration/ alerts
- Instant and automatic updates
- Offline access
- Use of immersive technology like Augmented and Virtual
On the other hand, mobile websites are susceptible to technological constraints in offering such features, and desktop websites have no scope here whatsoever.
Also, to bring to your notice, a mobile website may not support travel software development services, but a mobile application definitely can, and so can a desktop website, without any doubt. After all, we are not asking you to discard a website altogether cause that will be the greatest blunder one can ever make. All we are saying is to have a strong mobile presence, not in the form of a mobile website but in the shape of a super application.
Your online travel agency will surely benefit from owning a super mobile application for both android and iOS users. Now, let’s see how your agency is actually getting benefited.
Perks of owning a mobile app for your OTA
You are always holding a smartphone
You are always using a smartphone, whether you are at work or chilling out at your home. Your eyes are hooked on the smartphone screen and your fingers are busy swiping right or left as you scan others’ posts on social media. At times, you are simply shuffling through the apps, but your phone is still on your hand. The moment you get an update or a notification, you start checking them out without losing a single second.
Potent marketing tool
Use of popular social media buttons such as Instagram make it easier for the travelers to post their travel pictures online while reviewing your site post their vacation. And, this is one of the many promotional strategies you can use to promote your online travel agency. An application is considered a potent marketing tool by many. Also, your users’ social media posts will help you to design personalized marketing strategies to push a specific destination or a tour package on their screen that will gain a quick response from the users.
Get immersive views of destinations
India Virtual Reality Tours will take tourists to forts, palaces and other exotic tourist hot spots before they plan their vacation online. Dubai has done it and a bit more with its famous VRZoo and so did Los Angeles. Immersive views of destinations can be considered another important marketing tool which, however, is not supported by a mobile-responsive or a desktop website. Only a smartphone with the right-kind of configuration can support immersive virtual tours.
Easy booking and easier transactions
The mobile application has proved to be an easy option to make your customer’s travel bookings while they are traveling to work, riding a cab, metro or a bus. And, it is equally easy to make payments against those bookings as well, all thanks to online payment modes like internet banking, Paytm, PayPal, Google Pay and few others.
In-app cab booking options
Most online travel agency applications are super apps that offer a one-stop solution for travelers who are looking for getting flight tickets, making hotel reservations, hiring airport pick-up or drop vehicles and planning the whole itinerary online. Travel agency software services such as Flying Bird make it possible for OTAs to offer one-in-all kind of travel services to the customers, which, if applied to the mobile application, can really benefit the travelers.
Attractive offers and discounts
Online travel agencies are known to provide lucrative offers and deals on travel bookings through apps, similar to what Zomato and Myntra do. But, such offers are not available if you are using the mobile version of the travel website.
Information about unforeseen emergencies such as Flight Delays or Cancellations, Late or Early Arrivals and so on are easily pushed to the respective vacationers’ phones via your agency application, thereby saving some precious time of your customers.
Offline updates on local weather
Although applications require an internet connection to run smoothly on a smartphone, there are certain features that your customer can easily access even if their phone is offline.
For example –
They can get real-time local weather forecast updates to help them plan and make timely bookings based on the weather conditions of the place or places they wish to travel.
Geolocation and IoT-based smart destinations
Geolocation features in apps always come in handy. The real hikers prefer living, eating and moving like the locals, so they depend on the geolocation feature of their travel application all the more. It is easier for them to move around and find places easily without depending on strangers for directions.
Again, tourists can easily lay their hands on a wide range of useful data pertaining to local culture, hotels, weather and so on, on their travel apps, courtesy IoT – enabled smart geolocation feature.
Now, user centric apps will fetch immersive videos and images of the destinations before a traveler can book a holiday. But based on their search histories, only those destinations will feature that interest them the most. And, packages along with offers are shared all based on their data.
Still thinking – mobile app or mobile website???
The travel and tourism industry has witnessed a great many changes, modifications, and set-backs. The key players, as well as the new wannabes, have evolved themselves to align with the forever changing customer expectations and market trends, all thanks to travel software development companies. But, their success journey will remain incomplete if they failed to mobilize the application market. The numerous benefits of owning smartphone applications for online travel agencies are strong enough to convince that mobile apps are the future!