Last month we released our latest report, “The Rise of Mobile Booking in Travel“, looking at how mobile booking, while still in early stages, is one of the biggest growth areas in online/mobile travel. It is the most definitive state-of-the-market report on this big growth sector in travel. We’re extracting a portion below on native apps vs mobile web for mobile booking.
Booking with native apps that run in Apple iOS or Android trump browser-based booking, but not by much. A study by comScore and Expedia showed that 56 percent of hotel guests on smartphones and tablets prefer booking with a native app, as do 58 percent of airline customers.
In comparison to mobile-friendly websites, apps give the designer much more freedom. Since both main operating systems share a defined design language, users often find apps very easy to navigate. Individual brands also use apps to manage loyalty programs, remember guest preferences and send out deals and incentives.
“You hear a lot about HTML5 and responsive web design, but frankly, the app experience is difficult to beat in the near term because apps can use animation, sophisticated navigation settings, and offline usage, says Patrick Payne, CEO of Quick Mobile.
Gloree Centeno, Senior Director of eBusiness Development at Hertz says that her company’s mobile app has similar functionality to the desktop and mobile website seen in the browser. However, she says that the biggest advantage that only comes with the mobile app that can’t work in a browser window is local storage of data. It is especially useful for travelers that don’t always have access to Wi-Fi or mobile data.
But unless you give customers a reason to download your app, such as easier booking, loyalty rewards or preferred bookings, developing an app might not be worth it.
Simply optimizing the main website with responsive design, could boost sales. Travelocity revamped its website in June to make it display well on mobile, and within two months, it saw bookings grow 6 percent on iOS and 8 percent on Android, according to Mobile Commerce Daily.
Responsive design also lets the user hold the device however he or she likes and still get have a good experience.