Travel apps are having transformational effects on the ways that we plan, decide and buy. Just as the OTAs and social media upended travel industry norms and changed the relationship between travel service companies and the buyer, so too are apps altering that relationship in amazing and profound ways.
Travel app marketing, it’s safe to say, has become a central task for effective marketing of all travel services. Arguably, travel app marketing is one of the most active and important sectors of mobile app marketing.
And iOS and Android travel apps also play a big role in the larger app universe. While just a few years ago the app store was completely dominated by games, now travel apps are becoming very popular. More and more travel businesses around the world are relying on mobile apps to drive engagement and sales.
As further evidence of this trend, take a look at the various travel conference agendas of late, and see how many have units of app marketing:
- Defining the right target audience for a travel app
- Using push notifications and a travel app engagement engine
- Crafting marketing camapaigns specifically geared to apps
- App discovery and App Store/Google Play store page optimization
One of the most interesting aspects of the travel business is that two people sitting next to one another on a plane, in identical seats, may have radically different preferences for travel services and amenities. Here are just a few of the many important ways that their needs may differ:
|Purpose||Business or pleasure occasion?|
|Costs||High- versus low-price-sensitivity?|
|Class||First or business or coach?|
|Brand||Brand preferences and points programs?|
|Ambience||Luxury, trend-setting or utilitarian venue preferences?|
|Environment||Urban or suburban location?|
|Amenities||Need for an on-premise restaurant, pool, fitness center, etc?|
|Time Urgency||Flexibility on departure and return dates/times|
Travel has been one of the first verticals to get serious about collecting customer data as a means of anticipating the particular needs of a traveler. The OTAs as well as the leading travel brands now have extensive databases of information about travelers, preferences, frequent destinations, brand affinities, price sensitivity and more. Data they use to deliver tailored PC and mobile web marketing.
By contrast, data-driven travel app marketing is only in its infancy. Techniques that are common online are only now becoming available in the app arena. But now that they are available, travel companies should start taking the same sorts of data-driven approaches to app marketing that they take with consumer touch points that take place on other screens. In the pages that follow, we will be providing ideas and tips to do just that. We hope that these insights and recommendations will help you make your travel app marketing more effective through a focus on leveraging the power of data to create richer and more personal customer relationships.
This four post series will be structured around for topics:
- How to define the data collection strategy for your app, including which types of consumer actions you need to track.
- How to correctly evaluate your various marketing partners — to measure their relative abilities to drive your KPIs.
- How you can apply seven use cases and strategies to start driving rapid growth in your travel app business immediately.
- How you can convince more app users to buy in-app rather than taking their transactions to the PC web.
Let’s get started with the first topic.
How to define the data collection strategy for your app, including which types of consumer actions you need to track.
When you are just getting started with in-app measurement, the most important things you need to decide are which consumer actions to track. In the mobile app measurement industry, we call in-app consumer actions ‘events’. By tracking events, we gather the data necessary to understand the effectiveness of your marketing programs. We also gain a granular view of exactly what each consumer does inside your apps.
While in some categories it can be difficult to categorize actions into this rubric, in travel it’s generally not all that hard. Here’s the core list of validation events:
|Email Address (Hashed)|
|Device Advertising ID|
|Custom Advertiser ID|
|Age and Gender|
|Latitude and Longitude|
Engagement events tend to be category-specific. Here are some examples of some of the engagement types that travel companies should track.
- Instructions/Tutorial Viewed? If the app has instructions or a tutorial, whether or not a consumer reads it/watches it is a strong indicator of their depth of interest.
- Input of Travel Rewards Numbers: By choosing to commit this information to the app, the user gives you a strong indication of their interest in long-term use.
- Input of Travel Preferences (Airlines, Hotels, Car Rentals, Time of Day, Class of Service): Preferences like these offer a treasure trove of insights you can leverage to tailor marketing programs and experiences to individual users.
- Destination Searches: When you collect and retain details about past searches and trips, you can later use these facts to tailor offers and packages to the individual user.
- Wish Listing: A significant number of consumers like to wish list “dream” items. Analysis here can help you define programs and experiences that may be relevant to each individual user. In addition, you can (with permission) share these lists with other connected users as gift suggestions.
- Rating/Reviewing: By recording these opinions, you can craft richer marketing programs and recommendations that better reflect what each individual use wants and needs.
- Content Sharing: Noting the content that a user shares can provide valuable data to use in codifying someone’s preferences and interests.
- Did User Install Updates? This is a great indicator of the depth of interest an individual has in an app. Each update is a concrete demonstration of their commitment to an app.
Intent events are a rich source of information on whether an individual is committed to transacting in an app. Further, by analyzing which items the person appears to be interested in buying, you gain important insights into their interests – insights that power effective individualized communications.
- Check Availability: Not surprisingly, this is an extremely powerful indicator of interests and likely future purchases. This action can also give us insights into an individual’s lifestyle and other factors that may drive future purchase preferences.
- Add to Cart/Shopping Bag: Tells us what the person is really interested in buying. Committing to a cart is, for most people, a strong indicator of likely future purchases.
- Begin Booking (and Every Other Stage of the Booking Process): Find out which steps a user takes in the process. Tracking every step is a must to identify buying process bottlenecks that may be impeding your conversion rates.
- Input Credit Card Details: Another demonstration of serious interest. And, in these days of security concerns, brand trust.
With Purchase events, it’s critical that you record the specifics — or “parameters” — of what the individual has just bought.