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5 Creative Ways Travel Apps Can Drive User Engagement

Travel apps have become essential to modern-day traveling, offering convenient ways to book flights and hotels, plan itineraries, map directions, and much more. 

However, with over 1.96 million apps in the Apple AppStore and 2.87 million in Google Play– how can you stand out as the go-to travel app?

By increasing user engagement. 

Travel apps represent adventure and new memories, so take advantage of that excitement by giving your users an unforgettable app experience.

You’ll need a compelling strategy to stay ahead of competitors, so we’ve gathered 5 key ways you can drive user engagement. 


1. Gamify Your App

Gamification means using game-like elements in your advertising campaigns to increase user engagement. You can do this in the form of playable ads or in-app gameplay.

Playable ads allow users to try an app before downloading and can “boost user retention rates by 30 to 40%” because of their enjoyable nature.

ezTravel, a Tawainese travel app, redirected its marketing efforts to Facebook Playable ads to increase downloads by exciting Tawainese users about traveling.

Users could ‘travel’ around Taiwan by rolling dice and moving along a game board to discover potential new places to visit. They could also collect cards to win coupons redeemable on the ezTravel website.

The result? ezTravel saw a 2X lift in their app downloads. 

Waze, the GPS navigation app, implemented in-app gameplay with a leaderboard. Users earn points every time they make a road report and receive a ranking. They can see how they compare to other contributors weekly with challenges to earn extra points.

The result? Waze keeps users highly engaged while simultaneously enhancing their app. 


2. Personalization

Tailoring your ads is highly effective because “87% of consumers are more likely to shop with travel brands that succeed at personalizing their apps and websites.”

Luckily, first-party data (1P) is a hot topic, making personalization easy.

1P data involves collecting data directly from your customers, allowing you to tailor ads according to users’ app interactions.

Hopper, a travel booking app, partnered with CRAFTSMAN+ to give users a personalized experience by collecting data. 

CRAFTSMAN+ created progressive mini-games Hopper users could play to win special rewards and vouchers. Hopper scaled its user engagement by tracking in-app user activity to determine which level of rewards users would receive during their gameplay. 

Playable ads also work exceptionally well with 1P data because it gives brands specific insight into their audience. 

Let’s say your travel app wants to test which kind of vacation spots users are most interested in. Your playable ad could be a quiz where users choose their “Dream Vacation Locations.” You can use that information to personalize ads based on user preferences. 


3. Social Sharing and Building Community

Travel is often a social experience, and many travelers like sharing their adventures with online communities. 

This is an excellent opportunity for you! People want to share their travel journeys, so make it simple for them. 

Airbnb’s sharing features allow users to share potential bookings via social media, email, and text messaging, making it easy to gather travel plans. 

The app, Couchsurfing, has a global community of 14 million people because of its community-based focus.

The app has a messaging tool so travelers can connect directly with locals and other users in their area. Couchsurfers can also start discussions to ask for advice and recommendations, organize public events, and share profiles to match itineraries.

Remember, the more opportunities users have to share your app and collaborate, the more exposure you’ll get.


4. User-Generated Content (UGC)

UGC can be a powerful tool for travel apps because, again, people want to share their memories from around the globe.

In fact, 85% of people said “they would share a positive travel experience on social media.” 

So how can you leverage UGC on your travel app?

TripAdvisor allows users to write reviews, share photos, and recommend hotels, restaurants, cruises, and activities. Users can rely on real opinions and experiences from actual travelers to help them plan their ideal getaway. 

TripAdvisor’s UGC has amassed a large community that helps 463 million travelers every month and has more than 859 million reviews.

You can also look around social media to see if users have posted about their adventures using your app. Repost their content to show followers how your app can ease their travel planning. 


5. Augmented Reality (AR)

AR is an emerging technology that can revolutionize the travel industry by giving users an immersive experience beyond traditional travel tools.

So what is AR? 

AR “is the integration of digital information with the user's environment in real-time.” Think back to Pokémon Go, when users could catch Pokemon in the real world. 

You may already be using apps that utilize AR without realizing it.

Google Maps, for example, has a ‘Live View’ feature to give real-time walking directions. Users hold their cameras up to their surroundings, and Google Maps will use arrows and prompts to point them in the right direction. 

There are many ways your app can get creative with AR, but here are a few ways to get started:

  • Use a phone’s camera to help users find their destination with easy-to-follow directions
  • Provide virtual tours of popular destinations and landmarks, allowing users to explore and learn about new places
  • Offer self-guided tours where users can point their cameras to restaurants, museums, and buildings to find information
  • Ease the language barrier with in-app translations where users can point their phone camera to a sign and have it translated to their chosen language


It's All About Your Users

Apps need users to be successful, so always think about what they’re doing and how you can keep them coming back to your app. 

If you want to learn more about optimizing your app, contact us for a free consultation. 

You can also head over to our blog, ‘App Store Optimization Best Practices’ to learn more.