How Mobile Apps Are Changing the Travel and Tourism Industry
Rachel Horvath wrote this article
We are living in the golden era of convenient and accessible travel.
It has never been easier to book a vacation and go anywhere you want in the world.
Mobile apps are just a piece of the Experience Economy, which is rapidly changing the way we travel and experience the world around us.
Tech is changing the travel and tourism industry for good
Nearly two-thirds of travelers rely on mobile apps during their trips.
And thanks to the various mobile apps out there, more people today are also enjoying better planned, easier-to-navigate adventures.
Travelport’s 2018 Digital Traveler Survey surveyed 16,000 travelers from 25 countries. Many of the respondents from the U.S. indicated that mobile devices are vital to their experiences.
According to the Travelport Survey:
– 61 percent of travelers in the U.S. have booked and paid for travel through their smartphone within the past year. 64% are using their smartphones en route to their destination.
– On average, U.S. leisure travelers use 7-8 apps throughout their searching, booking and in-destination travel experience. Maps (52%), weather (51%) and branded airlines (50%) topped their list of most widely used apps.
– The top three most important features identified in their travel apps are real-time flight alerts throughout their journey (65%), being able to see an entire trip itinerary in one place (64%) and the ability to search & book flights (63%)
We can see from these results that people are using a lot of apps to travel. They’d also be interested in consolidating their travel needs across fewer apps as well.
Perhaps nothing sums up traveling in today’s world more than this quote from the survey:
“In 2018, technology has turned travel into a home-from-home experience, as we remain connected to the platforms, apps and sources of information we use at home during our trip.”
One of the most important aspects of a successful trip is staying organized. Many people want to have a sense of adventure and enjoy the feeling of spontaneity.
Apps keep this desire from becoming too disorganized.
The industry is changing for both travelers and the businesses that serve them
Booking technology is allowing for many new travel operators to enter the game.
To me, there’s never been a better time to get into the vacation business (as long as you’re not planning to open a brick-and-mortar Travel Agency, that is).
Whether you own a hostel or a vacation rental property, the technology at your disposal allows you to reach far and wide to new markets.
This is especially the case for vacation rental property owners.
Thanks to the rise of online booking platforms, travelers are having an easier time than ever finding new places they want to stay. And people’s standards are changing.
It used to be that travelers booked their stays at hotels.
But now, more and more people are looking for a more authentic, local experience. This, coupled with the desire for larger spaces with more amenities, have driven tourists to book a stay at someone’s home through the likes of Airbnb.
But only the vacation rental entrepreneurs that can automate their booking systems can make real money.
Every vacation rental business needs an online booking system
Booking systems are the backbone of the tourism economy.
Sites like Airbnb and HomeAway have transformed the lodging and hospitality industry. Instead of relying on hotel chains, travelers can stay in private lodgings.
This can provide the traveler with options more tailored to their individual needs in terms of price, location, and amenities.
These sites have exploded in popularity over the past few years, and more and more people are listing property rentals. If you’re considering listing a property on one of these platforms, some apps can help you do so efficiently.
At the same time, many vacation home entrepreneurs today are looking into building their own, customized booking platforms via web or mobile applications.
This way, they can control precisely the features and functionalities they’d like to see available for users and on the administrative side where bookings are managed.
The reality is, each booking platform out there comes with its own set of rules, and that can be difficult to balance.
Sometimes, it’s best to start from scratch. That’s where we come in to ‘Make It App’n.’
One application I’ve been very interested in is one that will automate and manage bookings for property owners.
This is where a platform like FutureStay can be useful for vacation rental entrepreneurs:
– If you’re managing multiple property rentals on multiple channels, FutureStay can help you stay organized.
– You can keep track of your listings, online bookings and guest management all in one place. It can also assist with keeping a detailed record of customers, their contact info, and their payment details.
– If you’re serious about growing your property management business, FutureStay can even help with your website and branding.
FutureStay automates a lot of the legwork involved with payment and booking so you can focus on more important things.
Online booking systems have afforded us many convenient ways to travel to incredible places. Whether they are used for booking tours, booking hotels, or booking vacation rental properties, online booking systems are capable of a lot.
Travelers can easily organize their itineraries in advance while keeping things dynamic
Imagine that you are juggling your hotel bookings, flights, and rental car booking.
I’ve been there, and I’m sure you have too. It’s easy to lose a confirmation email or get itineraries confused!
But think about all of the mobile apps at our disposal that can help us organize everything in one place.
TripIt is one such example.
TripIt organizes all your travel itineraries and documentation, so it’s all in one place. You can have reservations, tickets, flight itineraries, hotel/Airbnb bookings, directions, and rental car info automatically sent to TripIt.
– Mobile apps have helped easily connect people who are traveling together.
– Apps like TripIt keep everything in sync for a traveling companion or someone you’re meeting up with at your destination. This has made planning logistics between multiple people so much easier than it used to be.
– Mobile apps are now baked into our travel social fabric! Planning is no longer as much of an undertaking as it used to be.
No matter what sites you use to book your travel, all you have to do is forward all travel-related emails to TripIt.
TripIt uses all this information to generate a master itinerary for you automatically.
And, if there are any last-minute changes to your flight, train, or hotel, TripIt will send you a notification, so you’re never caught off guard. And you can get helpful reminders like when to leave for the airport and where to eat in town.
It’s easier than ever to find a travel deal, thus improving accessibility for people all over the world
Many web and mobile apps are capable of skimming the web for the best booking deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars.
You can book a trip months into the future or at the last minute. Rest assured that you’re still getting the best deal.
Momondo is probably one of my favorites because the interface is smooth and easy-to-use, which means that you can book your plans quickly and efficiently.
I’ve also seen some travel entrepreneurs who have gone to some pretty exciting heights to find the best travel deals.
One such entrepreneur is Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights.
In 2013, Scott Keyes found the best flight deal he’d ever seen: $130 roundtrip from New York City to Milan. Once Scott came back from his trip, he was determined to help others find the best deals too.
– Scott’s Cheap Flights is a sophisticated algorithm that scans the web for deals and then reports the deals to its subscribers
– It balances its software with human flight experts to discover flight deals and “mistake fares” that can be up to 90% off.
Honestly, it’s software like Scott’s Cheap Flights that have been able to change the way I travel.
And finding such affordable flights through an algorithm has opened up the world to many people who could not afford to travel otherwise
Even packing is getter easier in the new tech tourism economy
It’s happened to the best of us — we get to our destination to find that we forgot to pack an essential item.
Or maybe you were expecting warm, sunny weather and got rainstorms instead.
Cue mobile apps, which are now also helping people pack more intelligently. Take Packing Pro, for instance.
Packing Pro is a packing app that takes into account where you’re headed, what the weather will be like at your destination, and how many days you’ll be staying.
It generates a checklist that can help you determine what you need to pack by category. From there, add in other helpful information, like whether you’ll be swimming or if you’re planning on doing laundry. These details help the app determine your needs more precisely.
– The Packing Pro app provides you with a list of clothing, footwear, and other trip essentials.
– From there, you can make edits to the list and save it for when you’re ready to start packing.
– Packing Pro creates reminders for other important details, like renewing a passport or getting required vaccines.
Another app that makes it easier to pack intelligently is Packr.
Like Packing Pro, Packr takes into account where you’re headed and how long you’re staying. One of the great features of this app is the ability to plug in multiple destinations, which other packing apps don’t integrate.
That means if you’re heading out on a two-week road trip, you can be sure you’re packing everything you need. You can sync the app across devices and share your packing list with anyone else who may be traveling with you.
It’s much easier to inform yourself about your destination
When you’re planning a trip, especially to a foreign destination, you probably have lots of questions.
Staying informed about what to expect on your trip is important. Countries are beginning to offer their unique spin on travel technology so that people heading to their destination can get a taste of what’s to come.
One such example is Incredible India.
– Incredible India is an app that was developed by India’s Ministry of Tourism to help travelers (both domestic and foreign) get the most out of their trip.
– You can search for individual places within the country and learn more about that particular destination.
– This app helps you learn about history, local customs and traditions, and places that may interest tourists.
– You can find government-registered tour guides, travel agents, and transportation options during your stay.
India can be an overwhelming country for unfamiliar tourists to traverse, so I see apps like these, helping them out quite a lot.
I also am noticing that many other countries and cities are coming out with similar apps, which will further improve travel accessibility. Read up on Scotland’s mobile app Portal AR, for instance.
It takes far less effort to travel today — take advantage!
We all know that the world has become more interconnected through technology.
Mobile apps are facilitating travel opportunities for more and more people. It’s not only easier to plan a trip, but it’s more affordable to plan a trip, too.
It’s also easier for a traveler to have a more “local experience.”
Before mobile apps, people would need to do some real digging to find out how to travel like a local or know someone personally.
But through booking apps, planning apps, tourism apps, etc., travelers can plan every last detail just how they want to.
– Mobile apps can curate more authentic travel experiences that would have been unknown previously.
– Whether you offer services like lodging to travelers, or you’re a road-tripper, business traveler, or international tourist, apps are offering innovations to make your life easier. Explore what’s out there.
– Plan trips efficiently, manage your rental properties all in one place and have all your travel questions answered quickly.
This new influx of travelers looking for local experiences is going to be a tremendous opportunity for local businesses to take advantage of.
Apps can act as the gateway for local and tourism businesses to participate in the new travel economy.
I also predict there will be more apps consolidating the features listed in this article.
Who knows how far the convenience bar will rise for travel and tourism?
I’m excited to see where this all goes!