The Power of Companion Travel Apps as Brandbuilders

08/12/15

Has anything changed more profoundly in the last 20 years than the way that brand equity gets built and enhanced? 20 years ago, advertising repetition was a key component of the brand building process – consumer message fatigue be darned. Have you driven a Ford lately? Three temperatures…one detergent.

As media options have proliferated, tactics that once seemed to be all powerful have faded. In fact, concepts like relentless repetition now probably do more harm to a brand than good.

So how ARE brands getting built these days? Increasing evidence suggests that it is the quality and richness of the brand experience that matters, not the frequency. In a world where you have literally millions of media options at any given moment, the only way brands can get their messages to stick is if people process and remember them. Vividness is the watchword.

More and more people are talking about defining brand moments – those occasions when a brand adds so much value to your daily experience that it earns a place in your heart.

Earns a place versus burns a place with frequency.

Companion apps are likely going to drive a disproportionate number of those brand moments in the future. For travel especially. For those less familiar with the app industry parlance, a companion app is a smartphone application that’s purpose is primarily to enhance or improve a user’s experience, not to sell them something. While a companion app may offer a way to buy things, its primary intent is to drive loyalty through improved experience.

Why travel?

Because travel is a profoundly emotion-laden time. Leisure travel is often a crescendo of pleasure in a person’s year. Especially in the US, where the average person gets less than two weeks off a year. By contrast, business travel is often harried and stressful. A time filled with a different kind of emotions. In both cases, a travel companion app can do a great deal to make travel a more positive experience.

  1. Imagine if an airline companion travel app that helped you with basic phrases needed when you get in a cab and need to get to District 6 in Singapore? Or that provided the day’s exchange rates so you could determine if the folks running that little booth at gate F21 are ripping you off.
  2. What if a hotel companion travel app offered a list of great restaurants right around its locations, along with a way to get a reservation with just one click?
  3. What if a CVB companion travel app could connect you to the websites of Broadway theaters directly, so you wouldn’t have to pay $75 of fees and charges for that ticket to Newsies?
  4. What if your hotel casino companion travel app offered easy instructions for how to play table games? Where do you think you’re gonna play em?

We’re talking about special moments – moments when the value of the information can create a long-term bond with a customer. “I got more out of my NYC trip because of X hotel, therefore I will try and stay in X hotels in other places. Sure it may cost $20 more, but it’s worth it because last time I stayed with them I didn’t get run around for an hour by a cabbie in Singapore.”

All of the instances above relate to utility, but one can imagine other little things that an app could do to brighten your travel experience. What about an airline app that bumps you up from boarding group 2 to boarding group one, just because. It’s the kind of thing that means a lot and brings with it memorability and brand connection.

What makes the travel category so ripe for companion apps is the emotion-laden nature of travel experiences. Coupled with how easy it could be for a travel company to improve the emotional experience during key moments of pleasure or stress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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