by Tejaswi Subramanian
Scrolling through Instagram it’s not hard to notice a pattern among the hashtags: #Wanderlust, #Instatravel, #Adventureseeker, the list goes on. The millennial generation is feeling footloose like never before, and this is reflected in the booming travel mobile app industry.
If you are looking for a business opportunity, then this space ripe for disruption. Although bigger players like Expedia, Cleartrip, Trivago, and TripAdvisor have been playing around in this sandbox for a while now, there is so much room when it comes to the quality of service delivery and user retention. Rising above the competition in this area involves attracting a user as well as maintaining their loyalty. This is especially crucial since travel apps are flooding the scene, with over 5% of all apps on the Play Store being travel apps.
Almitra Karnik, who heads Marketing at CleverTap, pointed us towards a data point that came up in their latest analytics report for this sector: the average travel app loses 64% of its users after just 30 days of their signing up. That number climbs up to 76% after 60 days, and subsequently to 82% after 90 days. That’s a lot of money spent on user acquisition that goes very quickly down the drain. So what can travel apps do differently? An exclusive sneakpeek at the CleverTap report revealed that, just like dating, a good first impression can really go a long way. Making sure that the user has a stellar first-time experience, which includes thoughtful onboarding, can lay the groundwork for a lasting relationship.
Here’s what CleverTap thinks you should focus on for a stellar first-time user experience
CleverTap highlights two different parameters to study the quality of a user’s first-time experience on the app. The first one is the opt-in rate, which refers to the number of customers who sign up for content marketing collateral like newsletters, SMSes, push notifications for the app and so on. The current benchmark is at 63% of all new users.
The second is the login time. How long does it take the user to log in and set up their new profile? The lesser the better, and currently this is an area where incoming service providers can really make a difference. The average login time for travel apps is currently a whopping 18 minutes! In a fast-paced, impatient world, nobody has that kind of time to simply set up a profile. The report provides easy-to-implement ‘CleverTips’ like using social logins that scan the user’s profiles on Social Media platforms with their permission, and extract details relevant to the travel app.
Curating a travel ecosystem that is ‘warm’
TripAdvisor is known for its user-generated content. The platform has a highly-engaged community where travelers share information about their experiences and make suggestions on places to visit, hidden gems, and more. This focus on crowdsourced content helps them stand out in a space that has become highly commoditized and focused on bookings of flights, hotels, and car rentals. Even in providing these services, a focus on creating a travel ecosystem could guide the user in a friendly manner is possible. As an example, Almitra points us towards Tripcase, which provides info like travel time, plane type, indoor airport maps, and helpline numbers: all of which may be lost in airline apps. In fact, the Tripcase app even allows you to book an Uber from within the app!
How to fix the user retention problem
Travel app carts are left high and dry way too often. In fact, data tells us that the cart abandonment rate for this industry is as high as 80%. When you think about it, the data points us to user stories that all of us can relate to. Sometimes you are just browsing through destinations, checking prices for that holiday to Japan that you hope to take one day, just to check it off your bucket list. Some other times you are booking a bachelorette trip with your friends, and you need to get a sign-off from everybody about the expenses, and you decide to return to the cart at a later time. There are definitely times when you cannot afford that ticket to Iceland and you think a deal will crop up in the coming days that will make it more affordable for you. And then there are those annoying instances when you have everything in order, but the app inconveniently crashes and you want to throw your hands up in the air in frustration!
From billing to working with pricing aggregators to crafting seamless user interfaces, the devil is clearly in the details of creating targeted engagement campaigns that give the user exactly what they are looking for, instead of generic promotions being thrust down their throat. Using tools like Journeys, Pivot, and RFM can help us in the process by generating data-led user insights, based on which targeted automated marketing campaigns can take shape. Marrying specific user action to a broader dataset that is guided by predictive analytics is the way to create user retention opportunities.
Tejaswi Subramanian is a senior sub editor at Qrius.
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