With almost 40% of the world’s population online and over 41% households connected to the internet globally, the Mobile App Market is bound to be Worth $27 Billion in 2013. This calls for an “Mobile App” era where almost every imaginable daily task from project management to attending social parties to planning out vacations has an app assigned to it. In February 2012 the German Apple App Store accounted for about 550.000 apps including 26.000 travel apps (category Travel) alone. This year there are around 780.000 apps and 36.000 travel apps (category Travel) representing a market share of 4,62% of all apps available (31,04% in Games category). Paid apps account for 44% and 56% are free travel apps. Planning the dream trip of your life isn’t going to be much difficult anymore, will it?
Or, should we say, with our Mobile Travel App guide, all you need to do before going on a vacation is download the apps and let them guide you through. Before we get along with this travel app tour, here are some inputs from travel industry experts who have been dedicated users of travel apps for quite some time now.
Our first chat was with Daniel Levine, the trends expert, keynote speaker, director of The Avant-Guide Institute, and publisher of the popular social trends website WikiTrend. His professional website can be found at www.DanielLevine.com
SFM: We would like to have your take on travel app industry trends and what do you think is making these apps so popular?
Daniel: Two trends are making travel apps popular: The global rise of tourism and the adaptation of smartphones. The UNWTO announced that, in 2013 global tourism topped 1 billion arrivals for the first time, and that number is set to trend upward for the foreseeable future. Similarly, smartphone penetration is growing in leaps and bounds throughout the world. Together, it’s a powerful combination for travel apps.
SFM: Do you think personalization in apps is clicking most amongst the audience?
Daniel: Personalization is one of the biggest trends in the world at the moment. We are seeing it in all kinds of products and services because people want things that are made just for them. In the USA, Nike is letting customers personalize their own running shoes (www.NikeID.com) and M&Ms lets you put your own photo and message on their candies (www.mymms.com).
SFM: What are some of your favorite travel apps you always store on your phone and why?
Daniel: I use apps for the airlines I fly most because they give me direct access to flight and booking information. My favorite flight booking apps are Kayak and SkyScanner, because I find them to be the most flexible. I use Gate Guru, which tells me where I can find the best food in airport terminals. I have Google Translate, for when I’m traveling to countries with languages I don’t know. I use the XE Currency app to find out how little I get in exchange these days. Hotel Tonight is the best app for discount hotels that are available tonight. I like FlightTrack, which shows where planes are in the air in real time. Also, whenever I travel, I always download specific tourism and public transport map apps for the places I’m traveling to. Oh, and I use Google Maps everywhere.
That was all Daniel told us and it does give a clearer picture how travel apps have indeed become a huge success of the app market today. Not to forget some other inputs too that we had gathered on this perspective.
“It is a very crowded space with the entire travel industry slowly converting existing web sites to responsive sites, with improved smartphone performance. The availability of launch-that-site-with-an-icon means that they constitute a quickly expanding set of mobile travel resources.”
~ Robert Gray, Executive Director, At-Hand Apps, LLC
“Companies like Flipboard for news, Pandora for music, and Gogobot for travel (http://www.gogobot.com/) are just a few of the companies that are leveraging mobile to reimagining the web as a far more personal place.”
~ Travis Katz, CEO and founder, Gogobot
Apps you will love
Transport Search and Booking
Flight Search: Whether its your iPhone or Android or BlackBerry or Windows phone, booking flight is just a matter of touch. Apps like Kayak, Expedia, Hipmunk, Skyscanner have made it simple to book flights and hotels, to compare top airlines and avail the best deal, get instant notification, to get direct booking options with airlines or travel agents with n extra fees added. To add to so much, SkyScanner even comes in more than one language!
Accommodation: Landing in a new place definitely calls for good accommodation. You can do your bookings before you reach there with some of the coolest apps like Airbnb, Hostelworld, Booking.com. Whether its a luxury suite you are looking for, or a hostel room or an apartment to yourself for some time- these apps come handy and are exceptionally reliable. You can get connected to other passionate travelers and adventure seekers with Couchsurfing!
Travel Guides and Location Info
The real fun starts when you can travel in a new place like a native. That is possible only if you have all information of that place ready at hand. Switch to apps like Tripadvisor and Cities Talking that provides “city guides catalog” and audio travel guides, respectively. The best part of Cities Talking is -free of roaming charges. You can also check out GoGoBot that helps you with personalized tips anywhere across the globe. There is Viator with interactive MAPS and E-vouchers on phones, and also mTrip acting as a ‘Trip Genius’ creating automatic itineraries.
Without a basic plan chalked out, it becomes stressful to travel. But thanks to app-age, you can check out apps like Tripit, Tripomatic, Touristeye, Evernote, Trip Journal to make your travel plan organized. Whether its your business trip or a vacation, if you have to-dos, task lists, email notes, tweeting options, seat tracker, Google apps integration, trip packing and sharing options at a finger’s touch, you wouldn’t ask for more!
You can travel alone, you can have a whole team with you, or you can have friends and family. Still, there will always be people located somewhere else with whom you’d want to interact with. After all you can’t have everyone right beside you. Its a relief to have apps like Skype, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Viber, Tango which lets you send text messages, share pictures and audio, do video calling- all from your smartphone! They support group conversations too!
If you have done so much to travel to a place, definitely you wouldn’t want to miss any activity or event happening there. Location Finder apps like Google maps, Wikitude, AroundMe, Waze, Mapquest does all the searching for you- nearby restaurants, where what activities or events are happening, how will you reach there. Google Maps has street view which gives a 3-D visualization. You can check all these even before you reach that place.
Discover (Recommendation Apps)
Discover good food, sightseeing places based on recommendations made by friends staying there or have been there, or by other natives or people who have visited that place. Make personalized updates and get exact recommendations. You can use Yelp, Stay.com’s city guides, FourSquare, FoodSpotting, Wikihood to get feedbacks. While Wikihood brings in information straight from Wikipedia, you can add personal places such as friend’s apartment or place to rent cars from at Stay.com’s city guides!
Local Transportation Finder
Apps like HopStop, Uber, Taxibeat, Moovit, RelayRides are perfect to find local transportation service available in a particular city. Stay updated about train/bus/walking directions, private cab services, etc.
File Sharing/Storage: Store your important content in Dropbox, and access it from anywhere- smartphone, desktop or laptop- because your contents are well synced in all devices if the app is downloaded on it.
Finance Management: Starting with card transaction to quick report processing, Expensify has everything related to finance management.
Health: Get medical aid on the go. Starting with making an appointment to getting medical treatment, mPassport app makes sure you “travel well”.
Weather Forecast: Accurate weather forecast is important so that you can make the day’s plan. Again, weather forecast apps also help in deciding whether you will actually go to a particular place on a certain day. Get AccuWeather on your smartphone, and off you go!
Currency Exchange: When travelling to a place where your currency values may differ, its good to have XE Currency Exchange on your smartphone. It provides access to worldwide currency rates and works offline as well.
WiFi Finder: Without Internet, we can hardly think of doing anything. And when it comes for free even when you are on roaming, its icing on the cake. Get connected to wifi hotspots available around you with WiFi finder apps available for iPhone and Android.
Airport Guides: Get Gate Guru app on your smartphone and all airline services will be at your finger’s touch along with intuitive airport maps.
Translation: You may be at a place where its language has become a barrier in communicating with the locals there. You can take aid of translation apps like Google Translate and Word Lens– whether its a speech in some other language or a handwritten material, you can now have it translated for you.
Pets: You love your dogs and hate to leave it alone when you are going to some other place. Meet some of the trusted and insured pet sitters at Dog Vacay.
Gas Stations: Get updated about the cheapest gas price from an user curated fuel price updates with GasBuddy app.
Home Security: Even when you are busy doing a meeting or sightseeing a place, the worry about your home’s security keeps on bugging you. But apps like August lock and Canary are perfect to fix these tension bugs. Stay alert if something abnormal happens and reach out to people immediately to go and check what’s wrong. Its not just when you are away in some other place for days, even if its for few hours, your home security is now in your hand.
Travel Souvenirs: Send postcards as Travel Souvenirs with a message to US at 99 cents and $1.99 to other countries via Postagram app.
Packing Details: The most hectic is packing, and more than that is checking and unchecking items that are a “must” in your bag. With apps like PackingPro on iPhone and uPackingList on iPhone as well as Android, it is now easy and fast to make a list of items, and check and uncheck them. You can do more with them like changing order of items,add more items, etc.
Want a ready list of all these travel apps?