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Mobile transactions are growing across all industries, and tourism is no exception: tourism professionals need to adopt a “mobile first” strategy as soon as possible and strengthen their customer relations on mobile devices. 

 

The proportion of hotel reservations being made on smartphones and tablets has grown to 23% of online reservations in 2016, versus 14% last year. When it comes to users of digital technology, 23% of online activity occurs on smartphones and 15% on tablets, for a total of 38% of online activity on mobile devices. A “digital first” strategy includes aspects relating to customer relations, optimizing transactional relations, and information. But mobile tourism shouldn’t only be thought of in transactional terms. The development potential of mobile tourism is vast, with aspects including linguistic tourism, promoting a region, information on cultural events, and local information on the best places to visit. What are the rules for making a successful digital transition?

  1. Set a goal

People talk a lot about transactional relations in mobile tourism. However, mobile technology has some powerful potential to promote geographic areas, with targeted applications for hiking, discovering a city or other geographic area, sharing memories from a trip, promoting cultural events, and more.

The key question is how useful a project is: what need does my app fulfill? The answer to this question will determine the type of applications, mobile or web-based, that will be developed. The starting point will be the observation that consumers prefer generic tourism apps that simplify the search for a hotel, a location, or the right price. Major players in the industry will therefore have a strong interest in developing a native app that takes advantage of the smartphone’s specific technical aspects, such as its geolocation and camera features. But what about independent professionals, small businesses, or regional organizations?

There are four factors in the success of a mobile tourism app :

  1. The ability to geolocate a place
  2. Access to and sharing of images or videos: the social aspect of mobile technology
  3. Access to the application without a network connection (especially for people traveling outside their home country)
  4. Language management, so that the app is accessible to as many people as possible.

Only a native app can combine these four aspects. On the other hand, if the goal of the app doesn’t require the smartphone’s technical characteristics, then a native app might not necessarily be the most appropriate tool. A web app or a hybrid app can sometimes do the trick.

So, the first challenge is one of goal-setting.

 

  1. Choosing the right tool

You’ve set your goals. Now, are you interested in developing a native mobile app, a web app, or a hybrid app? I won’t go over the specific characteristics of each one here, but rather, I’ll talk about the reasons why you might choose one over the others.

There are two key considerations:

  1. When it comes down to it, people don’t download many apps, and even when they do, they don’t necessarily use them.
  2. Tourism is inherently a seasonal market. Because of this, you need to evaluate the lifespan of your app before launching into a long and costly development phase.

A “natural” distinction comes into play between major players who invest in native mobile apps and players with more limited resources, who go with a web app. There is still work to be done in this respect: more than 30% of tourism professionals don’t have a website optimized for reading on a smartphone.

So, the second challenge is one of cost.

Mobile Ap Tourisme

©istock/stockstudioX

 

  1. Simplifying use

Whether you have a mobile or web app, it can offer the most useful service there is, but if it takes too long for the user to get the information they want, they’ll disconnect. The ergonomics of your app and understanding the user experience and the customer’s needs are essential to conducting a digital transformation. Conversion rates are lower on mobile devices than on a desktop computer: the challenge is to develop simplicity and efficiency in order to offer a great, seamless customer experience. Here’s the golden rule: the more rich and complex the offering, the more difficult it will be to optimize the “purchase funnel” or user conversion. To simplify conversion between reservations and payments, but also to ensure that the user will have a good experience, your app must be prototyped, experimented with, tested, have its functions validated, etc. This testing and learning phase is a key step.

So, the third challenge is one of design and simplification.

 

  1. Planning for updates

We have to distinguish between an app’s duration of use and its longevity. The time for which a user will be connected to your app will be short and fleeting, for example, the length of a trip. Understanding this need for quickly accessible and reliable information means also understanding that the user needs simple, intuitive, and fast access to that information. The longevity of your app goes much further than that, whether its goal is transactional (e.g. reserving a night at a hotel) or promotional (e.g. for a region).

Before you decide on the nature of your project, you must plan for updates and maintenance to your app. Like any good, self-respecting travel guide, your app must have up-to-date and comprehensive information.

So, the fourth challenge is maintenance: simplifying updates to your app both for the technical aspects and for its content.

 

Shifting up a gear

Wakanda’s role is to simplify production of your mobile, web, or hybrid app by integrating design, development, and publication on the cloud or on your own servers into a single work environment.

Do you need to identify your goal? Our platform allows you to make a prototype of your app, experiment with it, and test it until you are able to determine the functions and user experience that will ensure the success of your project.

Do you have challenges with the cost of development? Wakanda Platform gathers, in a single environment, the technologies that allow you to independently develop your app and connect it to your back office. You are able to keep costs down while keeping control of development.

Is your goal related to the longevity of your app? Wakanda Platform simplifies maintenance of your app by integrating the latest technological innovations into the platform and facilitating changes to your content.