App, app and away

Travel agencies are keen to capture the rapidly growing customer base on mobile with their own apps. Prudence Lui, Caroline Boey, Paige Lee Pei Qi, Rohit Kaul and S Puvaneswary profile some, while Kathy Neo looks at others that could benefit the trade

Wing On Travel

24-october-wingontravelWhat The Hong Kong travel agency’s app offers 400,000 properties worldwide and air tickets to more than 200 destinations. What sets it apart is the choice of 70 LCCs, powered by Abacus. Future additions include bus tickets to China, attraction tickets and even restaurant bookings.

Wing On will continue to invest in  search engines like Google and Yahoo, so that the app comes up top in search results. It will also increase promotions on social media like Facebook and Twitter during the launch.

How Consumers can pay by credit card, and the process takes less than five minutes.

When An eight-figure investment, the app was developed a few years ago with support from parent company, Ctrip. A team of about 100 IT professionals worked on this platform, and Wing On sped up the process early this year to make it available in October, coinciding with its 50th anniversary celebration. It hopes to see return on investment from 2016.

Why As FITs account for a single-digit percentage of overall business, Wing On Travel director and CEO, Lanny Leung, hopes to expand this market to 10 per cent. The company also intends to establish itself as a mobile travel agency by targeting younger travellers.

She said: “So far, there is no similar app designed with such a scale of content and price-comparing function to filter the best options for consumers. Wing On also has its eye on the Macau market, where OTAs are hardly present.”


Yatra.com

24-october-yatraWhat Consumers can search for flights, hotels and holiday packages on the app.

Yatra.com also claims it is the only Indian OTA that provides a web check-in facility, which is currently available on its iOS app. There are also plans to offer this service on other platforms.
“No other OTA is currently offering this facility. Travellers can also view their booking history and recent selections,” said Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com.

How “Yatra.com tries to make the experience as smooth and comfortable as possible for its consumers, with features like eCash, a loyalty reward programme that gives instant cashback to customers for every purchase made, as well as offering them the benefit of instant refunds in the case of cancellations,” said Dhall.

When Developed in-house, the mobile app was launched in the last quarter of 2013.

Why The main objective was to provide ease and convenience, enabling customers to plan and book their travel on the go.

Dhall said: “We have seen the mobile booking segment grow significantly, and the market is definitely headed in that direction. With the easy availability of cheaper smartphones and rising Internet penetration via mobile, an increasing number of travellers are researching and booking their holidays on the mobile.”

Yatra.com currently receives 25 per cent of its bookings through the app, compared to 10 per cent last year. Twenty per cent of its digital spend is for its app.


Lvmama.com

24-october-lvmamaWhat Catering to FIT travellers in China, Lvmama.com’s app was developed to provide users with a convenient one-stop service to book tickets to scenic spots in China, domestic trips, regional and longhaul outbound travel, cruises and more.

At present, the majority of users are using the app to book tickets for scenic spots and travel to nearby countries, said Kate Ni, assistant general manager, Lvmama.com.

Claiming to have more than 10 million registered users, the company is still in the process of acquiring more users. Ni said: “We are promoting mostly in the mobile app segment, especially among search engines and social media.”

How Users can browse, book, and pay for purchases through the app. In addition, they can share their travel experiences and photos using the app.

When The app was launched in June 2011. It was developed by Free-trip Wireless Center, a Lvmama.com division, and cost more than RMB10 million (US$1.6 million).

Why With the rapid development of mobile technology, sales through the app is expected to grow. It now accounts for more than 50 per cent of sales.


BeMyGuest

24-october-bemyguestWhat Created by Singapore-based tours and activities aggregator BeMyGuest, this B2B app caters to its suppliers. Suppliers are able to manage bookings, reviews as well as access customer details and active listings.

How Bookings can be accepted and completed entirely through the supplier app.

When Kicked off in March, the app is built entirely by the company’s own technology and design teams.

Why The app was built to provide a mobile booking management tool for tours and activities providers.

BeMyGuest CEO, Clement Wong, explained: “As many of our suppliers are frequently on the move, this app reduces the time taken to accept booking requests. Many suppliers are even bypassing having a laptop altogether, hence the need for an app specifically for mobile devices.”


Luxury Tours Malaysia

24-october-etravelWhat Groundhandler Luxury Tours Malaysia is in the midst of testing its mobile app, eTravel Partners, which aims to give travellers an easy way to have a soft copy of their itinerary wherever they are.

With help from Singapore-based IT provider DesignerSoft, the app also provides suggestions on additional tours and other add-on products they can include in their itinerary.

How Consumers pay their local travel agency for bookings, while any add-on purchases made upon arrival in Malaysia can be made to Luxury Tours Malaysia.

When For Android phones, the app is being tested and is scheduled to go live in February 2015. A similar app for iOS is being developed and testing is scheduled for November.

Why Ganneesh Ramaa, manager, Luxury Tours Malaysia, said: “It is meant to enhance the services of our tour partners by offering more options on hotels and restaurants within the same location and within the same price range; our partner’s logo will appear on the welcome page.” Being paperless, it also helps save the environment, he added.


For travel agencies intending to go big on mobile…

24-october-travelport

Travelport Mobile Agent

Targeted at TMCs as well as business/leisure travel agencies, the app allows travel consultants to make bookings for their customers from handheld devices by obtaining quick access to Travelport’s Travel Commerce Platform.

The latest version features enhanced interface, graphics, content and speed, as well as customisable keyboard quick keys, ViewTrip integration and a newsfeed section with relevant news articles from travel publications.

Travelport ViewTrip Mobile
A mobile itinerary management and planning tool offered to agencies currently using Travelport ViewTrip. It provides travellers with flexible itinerary management throughout their entire journey through timely push messages, flight alerts, a trip list, a currency conversion tool, as well as airport, travel and events guides, among others. The itinerary automatically appears on the customer’s mobile device when it is emailed to them by their travel consultant.

The app was designed to enable travel consultants to extend service and support to their customers beyond the initial booking, improving value and customer communications.

24-october-sabre

TripCase
Offered in Asia-Pacific by Abacus (of which Sabre is a shareholder), this consumer travel itinerary app pulls together all elements of a trip such as flight, hotel and rental car bookings for easy viewing. Travellers automatically get updates such as gate details or flight schedule changes, and can easily share their itinerary with friends and family.

The corporate version of the app is used by American Express Travel to keep its business travellers informed. There is also an airline version.

Sabre Red Workspace on mobile
Last year, Sabre launched its iPad app for travel consultants to sync their Sabre desktop solution, Sabre Red Workspace, to their mobile device, effectively allowing them to book and manage travel anywhere on the go.

Sabre also launched its own agency app store, Sabre Red App Centre, giving travel consultants the ability to download a wide range of apps for their job.

24-october-abacus

Abacus MobileConnect
This travel agency tool was launched in mid-October, allowing companies to create their own branded apps.

Functions include check-in prompts, trip alerts, flight status and contextually relevant destination information such as weather and events, together with personalised promotions in-trip. In addition, a Call for Help function uses GPS data to alert next of kin to difficulties, and allows agencies to offer a 24/7 helpdesk via VoIP, IM or SMS.

For Asia’s hyper-social markets, there is also a Send Postcard option to share images with family and friends, as well as the agency for reviews. The app will also integrate with popular social media platforms.

Additional reporting by Caroline Boey, Paige Lee Pei Qi, Rohit Kaul, S Puvaneswary, Kathy Neo

Sponsored Post