In the digital age, booking services and purchasing through mobile apps have become important trends in retail. The tourism sector is not excepted, especially in the context that travelers prioritize booking on online channels today. So what is the role of mobile apps in tourism for travelers and what do they expect from an app?
Recently, Google and Kantar conducted a survey with 6,000 people in 6 markets in the Asia-Pacific, about their usages of mobile apps for shopping, including travel apps. Concurrently, Google also conducted a podcast with leaders from AirAsia Group, Tiket.com and Klook, to dig deeper into the issue.
According to research from Google, customers are increasingly expecting high-performing brands to develop an app so that they can reach the brand anytime, anywhere.
Research in three markets Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand shows that a brand’s mobile app can help increase brand affinity by 25% if customers have a first positive experience (from 36% to 61%).
App satisfaction also has a strong impact on brand loyalty and advocacy. Of customers who rate highly the brand’s app, 99% also scored high in brand loyalty, and 85% are brand advocates.
According to Google, about 58% of Asia-Pacific travelers prefer to interact with travel brands through apps. Particularly in Thailand, India and Indonesia, this figure is up to 67%.
The reason why mobile app usage is also starting to become more popular is that it is easier for travelers to access travel apps on their phones, offers better deals and promotions, and is easier to browse travel ideas than browsing webs on a mobile phone. Customers use the application for many various purposes, not only to book services or purchase but also to read reviews, compare products, look for deals, …
Especially, in the context of the current epidemic, a travel app can turn a travelers’ mobile phone into a mobile passport, with the integration of vaccination and test certifications to show when necessary. Apps have replaced many direct interactions at travel agents or country borders. 36% of Asia-Pacific travelers and 46% of travelers in India, Indonesia and Thailand said they started using apps more for safety reasons.
Wilfred Fan, chief commercial officer at Klook said: “With this rapid adoption of apps, brands are seeing people use phones as if they were mobile passports. Government subsidy or verification of vaccination status now appears on mobile apps, and that has really shifted consumer behavior. People now see their mobile device as a pass, a permit, a certificate, or as something that they just have to use.”
Multi-functions is what many travelers need in a travel app
According to research, travelers not only need an app to book services or purchase but also expect the app to be helpful, immersive and multifunctional.
67% of travelers prefer an app with more functionality than a single-purpose app. Top activities when travelers use the app are comparing prices, booking services, searching for deals and browsing photos of destinations. Today’s travelers also want to watch hotel room videos, or experience virtual technology, watch live streams of activities such as walking tours in the destination.
Especially, during the pandemic, travelers need more flexible booking management features and updated pandemic information on the app.
As digital transformation is increasingly being accelerated in the tourism sector, especially in the context of Covid-19, the demand for travelers to access travel services via mobile apps is increasing. It’s time for brands in the sector to invest more in their apps, improve the traveler experience when using the app to increase brand loyalty.