Almost all small and mid-sized travel businesses understand the importance of having an online presence and even invest in a website for a better business growth by providing customers with an online booking experience from the comfort of their living rooms. But now the bigger question is, should a travel business, particularly a small/mid-sized agent, invest in developing their own own mobile app ?
Customers today prefer to search and make bookings from their mobile phones. In fact mobile e-commerce has given users the liberty and convenience to shop online on their mobile phones to such an extent they would prefer to switch to another website and make their travel bookings that can be easily accessed on their mobile phones rather than turning on their laptops or PCs just to use your website which is too clunky when used on mobile phones.
So there is no question that every travel company today should have a mobile-responsive website. However, if you are a small or mid-sized travel business you need to take a call on your mobile e-commerce strategy whether you need an app or your mobile responsive portal is enough to serve your customer’s needs.
Things to keep in mind before investing in a mobile app
When it comes to deciding whether to go for a mobile app or not, there are no two ways about the fact that investing in an app can be beneficial for your business.
However, there are a few things to consider before taking the big leap:
The biggest challenge with building a mobile app is that it requires a big investment and being a small or a mid-sized travel business you have budget constraints and investing in one may simply burn a hole in your pocket and add to your costs thus reducing your business profit margin. On the other hand, a responsive website is already serving your business needs in a sense that customers can access it across different platforms like tablets or phones and the costs are very nominal.
Also, being a small or mid-sized travel business with a limited customer base, investing in an app may not be the best idea because only a fraction of mobile users will download your app and use it regularly, so the ROI won’t be very high. It is very important to be aware of the fact that your app would have to be built for different platforms like iOS, Android and even Windows. Building an app for each of these adds to the cost to your business. Whereas your responsive website works well on all platforms.
A mobile app usually is very useful for those large OTAs who have a huge customer base who access your website regularly, so investing in a mobile app would not affect their ROI to a great extent but as a small travel agent, one mobile app can bring down your profit margins.
Maintenance cost is another important issue with a mobile app. That is, if there is anything you need to change, you need to update the app across all the platforms on which your app is running.
Being a small or mid-sized travel business you have a budget that you need to stick to and you have to manage it in a way that it helps you grow your customer base and still doesn’t add to your costs heavily. Therefore, a responsive website should be more than sufficient for SMBs. They’re also great for SEO and organic traffic, as Google’s search algorithms rank mobile-friendly sites higher.
As a small/mid-sized business, your customers do not necessarily care if you have an app or not. In fact a lot of people today don’t like downloading many apps because of storage issues. Travel is not something one does everyday, so a travel app will have limited engagement among consumers, unlike Social Media apps or News apps, which people access pretty much everyday. As a travel services providers, your customers simply want a smooth searching and booking experience on their mobile phones when they DO decide to travel, which they would get anyway through a responsive website. So it might be a good idea to simply have a mobile-friendly site until you become a large company, where investing in an an app makes more sense.
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