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Using mobile to communicate with travelers during the COVID-19 crisis

April 22, 2020
Glenville Morris
By 
Glenville Morris

In a world heavily disrupted by the COVID-19 crisis, communicating with travelers in real-time has never been more important. Mobile is the most effective channel that travel companies can use to keep customers up to date, so we have created a short guide that details a few ways that travel companies can use this functionality to communicate.

We are also aware that many travel brands around the world are looking to reduce costs and streamline their operations. So, many of the opportunities detailed here require little or no development. Instead they focus on owned media, free/low cost third-party tools, and functionality built into mobile operating systems.


OS functionality

Functionality built into the iOS and Android operating systems (OS) give travel brands a unique opportunity to send information about COVID-19 to their travelers using Wallet passes. Once added, these passes can be updated in real time with new information and pushed to the traveler's device instantly. Note: Wallet passes work offline and online.

What your travel brand can do:

OS functionality

  • Create Wallet passes internally or use free third-party tools like Passsource
  • Pass files/GPay links can be sent to travelers via email or text. The user then adds the ’pass’ to their device
  • iOS Wallet pushes do not require a push engine, they are built into the operating system

Push notifications

With open rates at 80%+ (iOS and Android) and click through rates seven times that of email, push notifications are one of the most effective communication channels travel companies can utilize to inform travelers during the COVID-19 crisis.
(Note: if your travel company doesn’t use a push engine, see OS section)

What your travel brand can do:

Push notification example

  • Send pushes deep linking to change/refund processes. This will enable travelers to self serve, reducing pressure on contact centers and agents.
  • Use rich push notifications to highlight ‘how to cancel flight’ videos inside a notification.
  • Create in-app messages (over app content i.e. homescreen, search pod) to reach all your app users. In-app messages have 18-20 times the click through rate than traditional push.

Bots

Whether it’s inside your own app or on a social media platform, bots can reduce pressure (and cost) of contact centers and agents during this crisis.

What your travel brand can do:

Bots example image

  • Use broadcast/subscription messaging for urgent new information. Build intents for the rest.
  • Companies like Mindsay and 30SecondsToFly are offering their services at minimal or zero cost with no technical integration required. Basic bots can be built on platforms like Chatfuel with no development needed.

App store assets

The App Store and Google Play attract over 500 million visitors every week, meaning that outside of search engines, these offer the single biggest platforms to highlight functionality and/or provide information on app product pages to assist travelers. Travel companies should avail of ASO (app store optimization) techniques across both stores

What your travel brand can do:

App store

  • Promotional text’: Use this 170-character field (iOS only) to push operational messages instead. This text, above an app description can be changed at any time without needing a version update.
  • App Previews (iOS) and App Promos (Android): Swap this first screenshot out for an ‘operations/how to’ video
  • Version updates: Highlight new functionality that allows any kind of self-serve

COVID-19 resource hub

Visit our resource hub for news and insights to help your business navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.