A well-thought, user-friendly mobile app can revolutionize businesses – particularly those which operates in a dynamically changing environment. That was the case with Itaka, for which we’ve created a mobile solution that puts together all the communication channels and streamlines the information exchange.
The aim was to create a usable app that would lead the customers through the whole purchase process and support them while traveling. So how did we achieve it? Take a little journey with us to understand the success behind the ITAKA app and check how our solution can apply to your own business.
Our product was developed for Itaka – the largest travel corporation in Poland and one in Central and Eastern Europe. As a travel agency with a global reach, Itaka wanted to introduce an innovative solution to the market to meet its clients’ expectations and increase sales at the same time.
For a long time, travel agencies have been sticking to traditional solutions and avoiding investments in mobile products. However, that has slowly changed in recent years and will likely continue since mobile traffic is taking over the digital scene. In 2016, it had surpassed the desktop movement and continued to beat it. In the travel industry, the importance of mobile solutions is even higher since many tourists do not have access to the PC or laptops during their holidays, using smartphones instead. However, even today, when the competition is intense, only a few big players on the market provide their apps.
The app is Axabee’s core project, integrated with other solutions available in our offer (e.g., RepApp). Starting from 2016, we continue to develop it, adding new functionalities. Furthermore, we’ve designed the Itaka app in a way that would facilitate its future development. By choosing module-based app architecture, we ensured that adding new features wouldn’t require restructuring the whole app. This way, we can react to changing market realities, meeting the evolving expectations of the travel agencies, their clients, and holiday representatives.
The primary purpose of introducing the app to the market was adjusting Itaka’s offer to the modern standards focused on virtual services. Developing the digital product is a step which such a big travel agency had to take sooner or later. The solution proposed by Axabee was pioneering. The majority of the international travel agencies have started to invest in digital solutions only after the Covid-19 pandemic has hit, radically changing the face of the industry. We’ve started much earlier, anticipating the market tendencies.
In preparation, we’ve identified the following problems that our project should solve to fuel business growth.
With digital solutions becoming common and the clients changing their preferences, the travel agencies have to rethink their communication model and interaction patterns. For example, most tourists prefer to limit direct contact or establish it on their terms – and the apps facilitate that.
Since the digitalized lifestyle shortened our attention span, the traditional exchange of information typical for the travel industry is no longer a solution. Instead, we needed to create a channel to improve the communication flow and make the data accessible anytime. The mobile app is ideal for this role.
Customer expectations are constantly on the rise and meeting them is the only path to success in any industry. In the tourism sector, the main goal is to keep clients updated about all the opportunities while maintaining maximum flexibility in sales. The last-minute offers, booking discounted seats in the business class a few hours before the flight, or buying additional trips – it’s challenging to offer those options without a digital product that would put it all together. The tour operator can share them quickly through digital channels with the app.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the companies functioning within the travel industry to test the new solutions that would limit direct contact to a minimum. At the same time, the constantly changing restrictions enforced changes in the communication flow. The solutions we proposed for the problems listed above have turned out to solve the pandemic-related issues.
Instead of building another slow, non-native solution, we wanted to create a seamless app that allows booking trips and buying services without being redirected to the website (as it happens with the other products from the same niche). The app covered the whole client’s service path from beginning to end. We needed it to allow the tour agency to accompany the user in the holiday planning process – from searching, through booking and payment, to communication on-site and reviewing the trip once it comes to an end.
Itaka’s app provides all the practical info, including the hours of transfers, details on the hotel, and destination.
Our product lets the clients be more independent and lifts some burden off the representatives’ shoulders simultaneously. The tour participants do not need to approach them all the time – they can confirm that they’ve reached the destination or taken their place on the bus via an app.
Which features have we included to make the app solve the issues listed above?
To search for holiday offers more accessible and fuel sales simultaneously, we made sure to enable comfortable swiping through the best bargains, filtrating results, and using different result modes (list, map, etc.). Moreover, the presented offers are accompanied by a handful of details like the type of holiday, hotel standard, place of departure, or length of stay. Simultaneously, we refined the search algorithms to make the results as accurate as possible.
From the level of our application, the client can:
– access the information about the destination and the travel guides with helpful tips – access the travel documents (once downloaded before your trip, they can be accessed at any time, even without an Internet connection) – compare prices, facilities, hotel standards, and reviews via the offer comparison tool – buy additional services (parking spots, insurance, etc.) – book trips – rent a car – book a flight – access the information provided by the holiday rep on-site (after previous moderation by the tourist agency) – join a loyalty program and choose a prize for collected points
A significant part of the data in the app is accessible offline. Some features of the app require an Internet connection. However, without access to it, the users can still, for example, enter the customer zone and check some travel-related information.
To pay for a booked trip or service through the app, the clients can use payment cards and various payment systems and internet wallets such as Apple Pay.
The travelers would have to wait to meet the representative at their destination in the past. Now, they can communicate through the app. In addition, the representatives can share vital information with them, e.g., changing travel requirements. The travel agency moderates all the shared data before it reaches the clients.
At the same time, the tour operator can communicate with the user much faster and more effectively. The push notifications sent via an app make it easier to catch the hottest offers before it’s too late. For both the client and the agency, using the app is a great way to stay up to date with issues occurring during the trip. They can communicate via chat – Messenger or WhatsApp.
Instead of visiting external websites or apps to verify the hotel’s reputation and the previous tourists’ experiences, the users can check everything in an app. Each accommodation has a rating based on the opinions of Itaka’s clients. After coming back from their trip, they can contribute by sharing their own experience.
The app has turned out to be a success, bringing tangible benefits. For example, we’ve improved the communication on the line client-agency-representative, making it easier for the company to pass through the pandemic period. At the same time, we delivered the tourists a complex digital product that meets their needs, which has translated into increased sales.
Each month, we have at least 150 000 active users, and the number of installations rises quickly. When the travel industry got partially unfrozen after the pandemic period, the traffic in our app was high, regardless of quite a pessimistic prognosis.
In June 2021, we’ve observed a 55% increase in bookings compared to June 2019. In the same period, the conversion rate turned out to be 65,3% higher. That confirms that our app has made the search and booking process more intuitive, improving clients’ access to offers at the same time.
The product was originally developed for the travel company, but nothing prevents us from implementing it in other industries. Aside from the Itaka app, we’ve also created Travelti, its trimmed-down version without such features as extended destination details or offer a comparison. For some businesses, it may work better than the comprehensive app. To consult your needs, reach out to us – we’ll look through the existing options with you and prepare a quote.
Since it consists of modules, we can easily adjust the app to the specifics of a particular niche and the client’s expectations. For example, hotels, guesthouses, car rental companies, food delivery, transport carrier, and e-commerce business could benefit from implementing our solution by streamlining their booking process and improving the communication flow between the company, its customers, and partners. Note, however, that the API is necessary to integrate the app with an online shop.
We cover development, UX/UI design, testing, and project management as contractors. The app is developed natively for iOS and Android to ensure the highest performance and security. You can, however, decide to implement only one version for the operating system that the majority of your clients use. We redesign the interface and adjust the app’s structure while keeping its core functionalities during the process.
Do you want to know more details? Then, contact us to talk about your project.
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