Yeah, me neither. Long gone are the days of making appointments with travel agents or stretching out that giant folded up piece of paper across your car dash. Many industries have been disrupted by rapidly evolving technology, but few have had the full transformation that the travel industry has.
Thanks to smartphones, today you have a living breathing travel agent in your pocket mapping your route, checking the traffic, offering travel advice, booking your reservations, you name it. It’s no secret that the mobile travel experience brings a massive opportunity to companies and app developers..
Josh Luger, of Business Insider, shares some stats on the mobile travel market:
- “Tourism is, of course, huge business: Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, responsible for some $6 trillion in direct and indirect economic impacts. Many travel-related apps have audiences in the millions.PhoCusWright estimates that the U.S. mobile travel market could exceed $8 billion in value this year, suggesting a worldwide value larger than $10 billion.
- Mobile travelers are a particularly attractive audience for brands and advertisers: Recent research on mobile travelers has discovered particularities about their demographics and habits that make them quite desirable. For example, business travelers are more likely to actually book their travel on mobile (32% have so far) and consumers who use their mobile devices for travel-related services tend to have higher-than-average incomes.
- Online travel is increasingly going mobile: Not surprisingly, given the increased adoption of smartphones as travel tools, some of the largest online travel companies already report a significant percentage of their bookings via mobile. But opportunities for travel applications go beyond bookings. Advertising revenue will flow to travel apps in part because they are able to ask for and collect location data from users.
- Mobile is also particularly strong for last-minute hotel bookings: Hotel Tonight leverages the last-minute and spontaneous nature of many mobile-mediated travel bookings, Orbitz noted that “over 70% of reservations coming through smartphones are being done within a day of check-in,” and Expedia reported that 68% of its mobile hotel reservations are done within 24 hours of the planned stay. Mobile has clearly created a new business opportunity in hotel booking, creating a channel through which to sell rooms that otherwise would remain unoccupied and unsold.”
Mobile travel is a big business. But while there are major opportunities in the mobile travel market, there are also so many developmental challenges specific to the travel industry in particular.
For one, how do you test the mobile travel experience on-the-go? Companies that rely on in-house, automated or off-shore testing don’t have the geographic coverage their users will be interacting with the application in. Not to mention, automated testing cannot cover the specific use cases that a travel application will be operating under. This makes crowdsourced testing with professional testers in different locations across the globe a necessary part of the QA process for travel app developers. After all, with every opportunity in technology today comes higher user expectations. Travel apps have to work everywhere, every time, in every location.
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