Mobile is the driving force in travel innovation


It took 68 years for airlines to gain 50 million users. For computers: 14 years. For Super Mario Run, a mobile game, this took eight days. What's next?

Change happens at an ever-accelerating pace, and understandably, even hi-tech companies might have trouble keeping up. It is also clear what the common denominator for the most of services with exploding userbases is: mobile. And it is no surprise; mobile allows companies to reach customers with a device that is always on them. This allows for some clever ways to ensure a more frictionless experience on every touchpoint, especially in travel.

For example, many airlines have started to share data with hotels. This makes it possible to e.g. send push notifications that offer modifying check-in times with hotels in case the flight is delayed. Another way of reducing friction is offering alternate flights to the destination in case the delayed one is not optional for the traveller.

So, what are the key trends in mobile travel to look into in 2018 and onwards?

Voice is not some distant future, it is already here

It is often forgotten that the areas with the most potential for growth - namely African countries and parts of Asia - have populations that might not necessarily be even close to 100 percent in literacy. So, it is no surprise that apps with mostly pictures, very intuitive UIs and extensive voice command capabilities dominate the market in those parts of the world. As a comparison, 33 percent of UK travellers use voice commands and the number for Chinese travellers is at a much higher 72 percent.

Even today, it is possible to book a flight and a hotel room with (voice) chatting with a bot. This is not true for just smartphones; looking up flights, booking them and ordering an Uber can all be done on smartwatches, smart cars and home assistants such as Alexa. And these are not basic voice commands - all this can be done using natural language.

Mobile payments are getting more convenient

Amazon had a long run with their patent on a single-click payment which undoubtedly was a key in the success they have seen in the last years. With this coming to an end with giants such as Apple and Google introducing their own versions we will probably see a surge in reduction of inconvenience and friction in mobile payments.

The convenience provided by single-click payments will increase customer satisfaction while reducing opportunities to drop out of a transaction, increasing revenue for companies.

Social platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp will also allow single-click payments within their platforms. And, while booking etc. are already possible through these, what happens to brand apps? What is their added value?

What is the future for brand apps?

88 percent of people would like to have a ubiquitous app that answers all their needs. So, is there room for apps such as Hilton or Finnair? Some brands are already saying no: according to research made by Travelpoint Digital, 20 percent of brands are abandoning their apps in 2019.

So, what should the new strategy be? For established brands it is simple: just go wherever the customers are. Instead of trying to get 1.3 billion Chinese to download a particular brand app, why not just establish a presence in WeChat, China's largest social, messaging and payment app with over a billion monthly users?

We at Hotelway have decided to do this too. We are going to allow multi-channel communication. Guests can book their stays, check in or out and more via SMS, e-mail, Facebook Messenger and more.

This shift in the market also paves way for multi-hotel apps such as Hotelway's. The demand is clear; the only thing we need is awareness.

Hotelway answers so many things consumers have been craving but have not found in brand apps: ease of use throughout the journey, on all touchpoints from booking to checkout. This also includes two-way communication (not just notifications) directly with the hotel staff before and during the stay with an easy instant messaging service. Communication is a widely overlooked part of many brand apps while being very much on demand by consumers (60 percent of them want to do so via app and/or website). So, consumers don't want to download multiple apps but still want to communicate with service providers via them.

A clear answer to this is Hotelway.