Technology has changed the travel industry in fundamental ways. Mobile applications now play a huge role in how travelers interact with professionals in the industry and how they plan their trips.
As a freelance tech writer and traveler, I’ve had the opportunity to witness the changes that the last decade has brought to the travel industry.
People travel because of their desire to learn and see new things and have all kinds of interesting experiences. Successful mobile applications for the travel industry must, therefore, tell an engaging story that meets their audience’s desire to be captivated and inspired.
Mobile apps should tell stories using informative written and visual content because they must provide travelers with quality, accurate information for their trips. As a mobile app developer and entrepreneur, incorporating storytelling into your app can give it an edge over your competitors.
However, the task of producing such an app is challenging, as there are many factors to consider. The rate of success is encouraging, and research has shown that people rely more and more on their smartphones for travel-related purchases. For example, 65% of Americans say a site’s ease of use on a smartphone would positively impact their decision to make travel bookings.
While Europeans seem even more eager for mobile usability than Americans, the level of agreement demonstrated on such questions makes clear that there is an untapped market for travel apps and other mobile solutions for travelers.
So, how do you take your first steps into that space?
How to Develop a Storytelling Mobile App for the Travel Industry
- Plan and research your app
- Develop an attractive, functional design
- Focus on your content
1. Plan and Research Your App
Before entering the app development phase, you should start with thorough planning and research. You need to establish the goals of your app and the ways can you best achieve them.
"You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; use well-tested business techniques such as finding a niche and an audience, setting a budget, and coming up with promotional ideas in advance," said Laura Garbers, a resume writer and editor at CraftResumes service.
If you want your app to be the go-to tool for travelers looking for logistic and organizational help and key insights about places, these are some of the things you should keep in mind:
Establish Your Audience
Your travel mobile app must first draw the attention of the right people.
You should know from the get-go who your audience is and how you can reach them. Saying that your app targets travelers will not be useful in your marketing efforts. Try focusing on an age group, solo travelers, family travels, or budget travelers because people use different apps for different purposes.
Targetting the 23% of travelers who rely on ridesharing or other travel apps on their vacations or 34% who can’t resist the urge to live-post on social media, for example, can increase the effectiveness of your marketing dramatically.
Establishing one of these groups as your audience gives you the right insights about what your app should focus on. And narrowing that focus down will make the rest of your job a lot easier.
Find Your Niche
Once you know your audience, try to specify exactly which aspects of the travel industry you want to improve for them or which areas you want your app to cover.
This will help you define the purpose of your app, decide which functionalities are essential, and develop a marketing plan that can bring in users who need what you have to offer.
Take a deeper look into the travel industry itself to find your niche or specialization.
Set Your Main Objectives
Decide what your main goals that you want to accomplish with this app are.
How do you plan to monetize it and how fast? What number of users would you need to make a profit? Having a clear perspective on your goals is not only helpful but can provide great motivation and a productivity boost.
Create a Step-by-Step Plan
Developing a storytelling app for the travel industry can only be successful if you have a solid plan that covers multiple stages of the project.
The plan should include at least some of the following: marketing strategies, special upgrades, management approach, or smart analytics interpretation.
A plan made in advance allows you to avoid making much more costly mistakes during the app development process.
Develop a Promotion Strategy
When you develop your app, it helps to have an idea about promotional methods because you might have to implement some functionalities or features that make promotion easier.
If you already know where your audience comes from and have clear demographic data, you can adapt the content to meet the needs and expectations of your target audience. This will make promotion significantly easier, as there’s already a match between what you offer and what your user wants.
Without a clear promotion strategy, users cannot find your app, and your efforts will remain fruitless.
Determine Your Budget
Your budget will be a key factor in developing a mobile app. No great business idea starts without proper understanding of the market and an idea of the costs of the project. If your plans for the app are too complex, you might find yourself going over the budget fast while the project is still far from complete.
William Bolton, a project manager at PaperLeaf, suggests: “Consider alternative funding possibilities such as crowdfunding. This can help you raise a reasonable budget if your project can convince people of its utility.”
Whatever great ideas you might have for your mobile app, there’s little you can do without money.
2. Develop an Attractive, Functional Design
If you want your project to succeed, consider UX and UI as top priorities. Your app needs the right aesthetics and functionality to keep users returning and spending time on it.
Users love when content is presented in an attractive way that combines texts with media and visuals.
For a storytelling travel app, the design is part of the story you tell. If it’s able to entice users, they will return to your content.
However, pleasant aesthetics must be supported by great functionality as well. Otherwise, people might be frustrated when navigating your app.
Choose a Visually Enticing Design
Travelers love vibrant designs. Layout and colors can have a huge impact on how users interact with the app.
There are a variety of quality designs available for the travel industry, so you don’t have to come up with something original if that drives the costs too high. However, remember that your UX/UI designer should adapt the design for your niche as well.
Use Unique Features to Increase Functionality
Your app should function perfectly to gain user loyalty and attract large traffic.
Travelers might use your app to search for information or to book an event or trip. They might use it in a hurry while riding a bus or waiting in a train station if they want to make some last-minute changes to their trip or need additional information.
To meet those needs, your app requires intuitive navigation and special features that make the user experience easy and convenient. There’s no space for errors, slow loading speed, or clunky features in a travel app.
3. Focus on your Content
A storytelling mobile app revolves around content. For the travel industry, this means compelling and informative writing, updated information, stunning photography, and statistics, all well-organized on the page. To stay relevant, your app needs all of this.
Mix Content Formats
The better the content in your app, the more reasons users have to keep coming back to it.
Use the content formats most suitable for the type of information you want to convey.
Digital content no longer relies on writing; photography and videos can greatly enhance your app.
Add as much content as needed because the same user can have different types of questions and different needs.
Only launch your application when you have enough content to ensure that users find it useful.
Don’t Neglect Offline Content
Great travel apps provide significant chunks of offline content because many travelers find themselves without an internet connection at times.
If your mobile app has a well-optimized offline mode, users will have a greater incentive to rely on it. They can return to recheck previously viewed content or to learn some last-minute information.
If your travel app is only available online, you might miss a considerable amount of traffic.
Storytelling Apps Set the Trend in the Travel Industry
In this day and age, travelers no longer rely on guidebooks, travel channels, or travel agents to plan and organize their trips. In my experience writing about technology and travel, mobile apps have become the pocket-help that solve any problem a traveler might have.
As a mobile developer, focus on the target audience, niche, enticing content, design, and functionality, and your ideas for the travel industry will generate impressive results.