travel_appsThink about the last time you went on a trip: alone or with a group, for business or for pleasure, national or international. Was it a stress-free process? I’m going to bet that question is met with a resounding no.

That is, unless, you’ve got a smartphone stocked with travel apps.

In a time when juggling tons of different trip accommodation elements is the norm (flights, hotel rooms, car reservations, check-ins, rewards points), travel apps have become necessary companions for mobile users. In fact, time spent in-app is up 28% in travel apps since last year, as users become more reliant on completing previously difficult or unpleasant travel tasks in-app.

But the best apps are those that go the extra mile to help users. And when it comes to traveling, users are looking for information personalized to them and that apply to what they’re doing at that exact moment. Push messages that trigger at the right time and based on actions or data are enormous assets to travel apps and the users they serve.

We’ve highlighted just a few of the ways travel apps can utilize automated push for smarter marketing and better engagement.

1. Relevant deals on “favorited” locations


Not all travel apps are booking accommodations only – what about those that are research-based? Take for example TripAdvisor’s City Guides app, which works to compliment their booking app. With your app analytics, you should be tracking screens viewed in-app, which could potentially include various locations and travel destinations that users have been looking in to.

The biggest conversion issue here is getting your user to pull the trigger on choosing a trip. Even when you provide the ability to confirm hotels, flights, attractions, car rentals, and everything one might need for a trip, the first step is deciding on a spot.

Try this tactic: every time a user adds a new location to their favorites list (an in-app event), send him or her an automated push message highlighting the best flight and accommodation deals to that place from their local airport. This campaign can also be recurring, meaning it launches each time new users qualify, automatically enrolling them after they’ve added a place to their favorites.

2. Refer-a-friend credit for user who has previously booked a ride

Drive_Boston_exampleThe days of wandering the streets looking for a cab are gone, replaced with “personal drivers” and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. These app-based companies pride themselves on creating an entirely new travel experience for their members – something they do by creating a seamless app experience and providing membership benefits.

One way in particular to do this? Offer deals based on past usage. Reward frequent users (and gain new ones) with, say, a $20 credit for their next trip if they refer a friend to the service. Using an automated push message, you can target users who have booked X number of rides in the past, and, once they’ve surpassed that number of rides, send a push notification with the credit campaign.

This ensures that you’re offering the deal to only active users – ones who are loyal enough to consider referring a friend and who use the app frequently enough that they would find the credit useful. Plus, nothing gets a user to pay attention to push more than a discount specific to her.

3. Advice or applicable deals after in-app reservation confirmation

Hawkes_Travel_exampleFor many travel apps, getting your users to book a trip is the ultimate conversion goal – but in an effort to engage them over time and encourage continued use of your app for future travel plans, why not send a push notification after the conversion?

Once your user has booked a trip in-app, send them city-specific tips, travel advice, or special accommodation discounts, using an automated push message. This campaign can be set to recur daily, but since users can only qualify once, you won’t bombard them every day with the same content. Instead, you’re automating a way to keep the conversation going, and continue providing value.

This type of push campaign positions you as a travel advisor, not just a companion, and saves the user additional research time. Ultimately, it makes their experience easier and more enjoyable, giving your app a leg up in securing them as repeat customers.

Top photo by fdecomite / CC BY