Commentary

Moving Along with Improving Travel Apps

Consumers can find gems inside travel apps even if some are not front and center in the travel industry.

Addressing an audience in San Diego earlier today, I asked how many of the hundreds of Fortune 500 business execs in attendance used mobile for airline check-ins and almost all responded that they did.

It’s not like the airlines heavily promoted the functionality in their apps, they just kept creating and improving them and heavy travelers naturally find them on their own.

Part of the reason is likely that travel is so difficult on many fronts these days that any assistance along the way is welcomed.

Early airline apps were quite rudimentary but have come a long way over time.

While some travel apps, such as Amtrak, haven’t been totally synced with their legacy systems, they still offer plenty of advanced and useful features.

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As many frequent travelers, I lean pretty heavily on travel apps before and during trips and have only faint memories of travel life before apps.

Earlier today, I was notified via mobile that my returning flight through Chicago was canceled due to the fire there.

A quick search on Google’s ITA app, one my of favorites, showed me options to get back and then on we went to change flights and cities, since O’Hare, rarely a smooth airport connection even on a good day, was closed.

Checking in for my new flight today, I inquired about seating to see if the American Airlines ticket agent had access to more seats than I could see in the app.

After checking, it was obvious that the seat maps in her reservation system and in my app were the same.

I told her I often change my seats on-the-fly from my app. “I didn’t know you could do that in the app,” she said.

Needing a hotel in Dallas, on to the Hilton app. Hotel availability found in an instant.

Beacons are coming to airports as well, already being installed at London’s Heathrow. The promise there is that more targeted and useful information can reach travelers when and where they need it most.

Now that travel apps themselves are significantly better, linking to them to the precise location of a traveler can be used to provide even more utility.

And that can help smooth rough travel.

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Check out the MediaPost conference on beacons, for Nov. 3 in New York (IoT: Beacons), which I’m currently programming.

 

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