“Ok google, find a fish taco restaurant in Puerto Vallarta that will remind me of the one in San Diego last May.” Far-fetched? For now, maybe. But based on the whispers surrounding the Mobile World Congress Americas, this is where we’re headed — to communicative, highly-personalized apps, and hopefully fish tacos.
Mobile World Congress Americas is a gathering of the leading developers, operators and content owners in the Americas. As a travel site, we’re interested to see how the latest mobile trends are going to change the travel world, especially through the latest in travel apps. While MWC Americas will reveal more, reports from MWC Barcelona have given us a window into the hot topics in the mobile world.
When the MWC comes to San Francisco Sept. 12-14, those paying attention are expecting to hear about two major themes, both of which concern customer experience.
The first theme is the rise in chatbots — an artificial intelligence tool that allows users to have “conversations” with their phone and get information about everything from directions to random questions. Think apple’s “Siri” or Amazon’s “Alexa”.
The second theme is personalization. Mobile apps are going to know more about users’ past experiences — where the user has traveled, what they like to do on their trips, etc.
What about the apps?
While this advanced engagement and personalization is considered “the future”, there are a few mobile travel apps that are already moving in that direction
Google trips is a multi purpose travel app that helps you plan your trip, organizing everything from flights to car rentals to where to eat. But the personalization aspect of the app is what peaks our interest. Along with your basic trip plans, the app provides you with suggestions based on past bookings, internet searches etc. The app is linked to your Gmail account, giving it the tremendous amount of data that your internet footprint provides. The app forms its suggestions based on your footprint. Almost scary right?
Although it’s not a travel app by design, Instagram has the power to spark a trip across the globe with a single photo. But it’s the “explore” page that is at the front of the mobile app personalization movement. Say you start following an Indonesia travel page. Soon enough, your explore section will be full of Bali sunsets and surfers carving up perfect swells. Soon enough, your regular feed will have ads for hotels and hostels. All you have to do is buy the ticket.
Kayak Mobile App
Kayak’s mobile app is a great example of an app that does the heavy lifting for the user. Searching for flights and hotels on the app is easy enough, but the price alert feature is what takes it into highest ranks of user-friendly apps. By providing basic flight and hotel criteria (dates and destinations) you will receive regular updates on price changes so that you can pull the trigger at the right time. Kayak works because it’s all about making things smooth for the user. Expect other apps to follow this highly experience-focused lead.