Sun, sand, and seamless digital experiences – how apps have become crucial to a successful summer vacation

More and more travellers are relying on devices, specifically apps, when planning their trips, as shared by Abhilash Purushothaman, regional vice president, general manager of Asia at AppDynamics

Right now, millions of people all over the world are planning or getting ready to take a well-earned vacation after an exhausting and stressful two years. For many, this will be their first trip since before the pandemic and they are understandably excited about the prospect of getting away for a week or two.

But whatever type of break people are looking for this year – sun and sand, mountains and snow, lakes and wildlife – there is one essential factor that has emerged in 2022, which is the need for seamless digital experiences when planning, booking, and traveling on vacation.

Indeed, at Cisco AppDynamics, we recently conducted research among global consumers which found that 74 per cent of people worldwide now view apps and digital services as central to the vacation experience.

Digital services at every stage of the vacation experience
Our research reveals that holidaymakers will, on average, use a staggering 27 digital services and applications. From researching where to go and what to do before setting off, through to managing bookings, tickets and Covid vaccination status while away – there isn’t a single element of a vacation where people won’t be turning to applications.

Significantly, people are relying solely on digital services for the most critical elements of their trip – airline tickets, boarding passes, hotel bookings, payments and Covid vaccination certificates. 55 per cent say they do not intend to carry any paper-based tickets on their next vacation and will rely entirely on airline and travel apps, digital wallets, and email throughout their trip; 82 per cent will trust applications to prove their Covid status or vaccination status. Holidaymakers aren’t taking paper copies as back-up – they’re putting all of their trust into applications.

Bad digital experiences have become the stuff of vacation nightmares
These findings replicate wider changes that have been seen across many other sectors over the last two years, from retail and entertainment to healthcare and fitness. Consumers are becoming ever more reliant on applications and digital services in almost every area of their lives.

The pandemic may have forced people to increase their use of digital services while living in lockdown, but people have now come to recognise and appreciate the benefits that these services can bring them. Now they are hungry for more.

And as appetite for digital services has soared, so too have people’s expectations for brilliant digital experiences. The latest AppDynamics App Attention Index revealed the extent to which consumers around the world have become so much more demanding in how they expect applications to perform and, alarmingly for application owners, completely unforgiving when things go wrong.

Reactions to poorly performing applications have become extremely strong and this is certainly the case when it comes to people heading off on vacation this year. 42 per cent of people report that if a travel application they were using (such as an airline, train company or hotel booking app) was to fail, then it could potentially ruin their whole trip; and almost as many people feel the same way about payment apps and travel documentation apps – if they do not perform as they should, then it could spoil their vacation.

Of course, it’s not just adults that rely on applications while on vacation – children do too. They feel the pain when apps do not work properly just as much as their parents, possibly more. 57 per cent of people report that apps and digital services are essential to keep children entertained on vacation and that if they fail, it could trigger a full-scale meltdown.

Tellingly, the research shows that bad digital experiences are now registering with people as potential vacation nightmares, situations that can seriously scupper an enjoyable trip, much like bad weather, flight cancellations or noisy accommodation.

Brands need to ensure they don’t slip up when it comes to application performance
Such is the reliance on digital services now, people are totally unforgiving towards brands that do not meet their expectations for seamless digital experiences. In fact, 39 per cent report that if they encounter a problem with an application when planning, booking, or traveling on vacation, they will immediately switch to an alternative.

What’s more, only 9 per cent would actually contact the company behind a poorly performing application; the rest would just suffer in silence and then likely go elsewhere. So even brands that think that their application is functioning well because they aren’t getting any complaints, they might actually be losing huge numbers of customers who aren’t getting the experience they are looking for and are just quietly moving on to a competitor.

Of course, there are a whole range of factors that constitute a bad digital experience for people when using applications to plan, book and travel on a vacation. These include applications and devices crashing, sign-in difficulties, problems with payments, poor connectivity, and unresponsive pages.

The onus is on application owners to mitigate against any performance issues and these findings should serve as an important reminder about the importance of digital experience. Brands in this space have to ensure they are providing their technologists with the tools and insights they need to manage and optimise IT performance and availability at all times. This is absolutely critical if they are to deliver the digital experiences that consumers demand.

It is fantastic to see that travel is back on the horizon for people all over the world and also hugely heartening to see that many organisations in this space now have an opportunity to take advantage of so much pent-up demand, particularly after the challenges they have faced during the pandemic.

Now application owners just need to make sure they are ready to provide holidaymakers with what they want – seamless digital experiences and probably a bit of sunshine on the beach.

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