Disruption is all around us! Tech, finance, real estate, travel, and more! I recently interviewed Michael Nuciforo, the VP of Mobile Strategy at CheapOAir. I wanted to get his take on the status and future of mobile apps and traveling. These two working together in sync is something CheapOAir is heavy investing time and effort into. Read more about my chat with Michael about what is coming in 2018!
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Our interview with Michael at CheapOAir on mobile apps and traveling
Michael Nuciforo is the Vice President of Mobile Strategy at CheapOAir, one of FarePortal’s brands.
Before joining FarePortal, Michael was the Head of Mobile at two of the UK’s largest banks and was the co-founder and CEO of Parkhound – the Airbnb of parking.
It’s obvious that Michael knows a ton about mobile applications and the latest trends in travel technology, which is why we wanted to get his valuable insights into what’s coming next.
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How are mobile apps changing customer’s overall travel experience?
Mobile apps are becoming more focused on “you”. These developments are designed to specifically position products and services that cater to the desires and trends of their customers. For CheapOair, we want to personalize the experience so that no two customers have the very same app experience. To do this, we need to be really smart about how we apply data science and machine learning so we can tweak the offering for each user. In the future, if you have never added insurance to your booking, we won’t ask you every time. We also want to proactively engage our most loyal members by providing them discounts and useful travel services like free currency exchange when they book with us.
What is to come in 2018 in the travel industry in relation to tech?
These are really exciting times for the travel industry, especially in developing markets like Asia and Africa as young consumers spend heavily online via mobile devices. I think there are two major trends that we will see begin to emerge this year. Established online travel agencies will begin to focus more on the travel experience once you arrive. This will include packaging in tickets and reservations for tourist attractions and restaurants as part of booking your flight or accommodation. In turn, the industry will start to transition from a ‘booking your trip’ to ‘maximizing your trip’ mentality.
This transition will be driven by the fact that travelers now not only carry but use their mobile device whilst traveling as global device usage costs reduce significantly. Secondly, travel companies will need to confirm their plans with Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Both are Google initiatives to improve the speed and user experience for consumers searching for content on a mobile device. They will have a big impact on how consumers book travel this year.
What is CheapOAir doing in 2018 to increase user experience when booking travel?
We are really focused on two themes at the moment: reducing clicks and simplifying payment. These are two areas we have identified after looking at our analytics and doing user observations. Any time a customer has to type on their phone, it’s a chance for them to lose interest and abandon the booking flow. So we want to really remove, default or pre-populate as much information as possible. From a payment perspective, there is a lot of new technologies and services that have been launched and as consumers adopt those, we want to ensure we provide those options in our app as well.
What company should we as consumers be keeping our eye on? What is the next potential massive disruptor like AirBnB?
Disruption tends to happen in waves and I don’t see anything on the radar right now as disruptive as Airbnb was to the hotel industry. However, there are some cool startups emerging that are tapping into the changing behavior of travelers looking for unique experiences and less touristy itineraries. I think Tripoto has done a good job of building a very community focused platform that allows travelers to engage with and create interesting destination content.
I think by focusing on the community first, they can build a loyal user base and then over time start to identify ways to really leverage that. Overall, I don’t think anyone has really cracked the question of what do you do when you arrive somewhere. It’s really a mixture of advice from friends, trip advisor, yelp, open table and other various content sources but there isn’t a go-to destination yet for everything. So if someone can become that, they will be onto something big.
Where does voice start breaking through in hospitality/travel in an Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality/Voice (Alexa, Google Home, etc.)?
I think voice will have a tricky time of becoming mainstream in the short-to-medium term. It’s an interesting dilemma for Google and Amazon as they have entrenched ‘type and click’ behavior into everything we do and it works really well. We have essentially trained our brains to think how Google or Amazon wants us to input a search query.
For example, if I need to purchase a flight to Miami, I can type ‘Flights Miami’ and it’s quick, easy and I’ll get the results I want. Now, if I want to use Google Home, I don’t really know what to say – I have doubts. I might say ‘Hey Google, can you send me flight options for Miami’ but will it work? If it does, great, but then I will still have a difficult time taking the next step. If it doesn’t work, that’s a frustrating experience and the novelty dies off quickly. So the interaction isn’t really easier than typing at the moment. Therefore beyond early adopters and tech enthusiasts, I think it will have a long way to go to hit the mainstream.
The Bald Thoughts
Mobile apps and traveling have a great synergy and potential to replace many hassles and save us time. Smartphones have been and still are an integral part of the travel experience. However, mobile apps and traveling have so much uncovered potential to make our travels even simpler!
What is your favorite app to travel with? What are you looking for in mobile apps and traveling?
Let’s hear in the comments below!