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Travel apps leave users unsatisfied when facing delays, changes

Survey reveals negative user experiences of global travel and hospitality apps, with quarter of UK travellers reliant on apps for flights and accommodation

A survey from testing and digital quality firm Applause has found that nearly two-fifths (37%) of respondents were unsatisfied with apps they used for planning travel details.

The survey examined the use and user satisfaction of travel apps, gaining insights into overall satisfaction from more than 5,200 global respondents. It revealed typical flaws and friction points, and whether apps have been useful in navigating travel challenges such as lost baggage, flight cancellations or delays.

UK findings mirrored the overall survey, with UK respondents stating that 91% had more than one travel or hospitality app on their phone and 86% had travelled at least once during the past year.

Almost a quarter of UK respondents stated they used apps to help plan accommodation (24%) and make flight reservations (22%). Common problems UK travellers experienced were the inability to find the information they were looking for (19%) and very slow app response times (17%).

When ranking app features, up to 20% of UK respondents rated having all their travel information in one place – and texts for reminders, updates or changes to flight times, cancellations and reservations – as being important. Another 15% also rated seamless, intuitive experiences and the ability to connect well to payment devices as important.

Globally, the top reasons for using apps were to help plan accommodation (23%), make flight reservations (21%), purchase train, ferry or bus tickets (17%), rent a car (12%), make entertainment purchases such as bike rentals or museum tickets (12%) and make meal reservations (10%).

When plans change, users were often disappointed at the response of the apps. Almost two-fifths (37%) said apps have not been helpful in managing recent travel challenges such as rebooking cancelled flights and finding last-minute accommodation. In addition, a fifth noted that they were either “somewhat” or “very dissatisfied” with their overall app experiences.

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The most notable problems travellers encountered when using mobile apps were an inability to find the information they were looking for (18%), very slow app response times (13%), localisation problems (12%), difficulty using payment sources (11%) or unfulfilled requests – such as a preferred hotel room or seating – not honoured on-site (10%).

“In a time when a majority of travellers are facing travel disruptions, delays and other issues, it’s so important that brands are focused on the quality of their digital experiences,” said Luke Damian, chief growth officer for Applause.

“Ensuring that apps are tested by users in local markets especially helps eliminate design flaws and friction points that can heighten a traveller’s frustration. Providing travellers with helpful tools and high-quality digital experiences can go a long way in protecting brand reputations and enhancing customer loyalty. It can be a differentiator in the market.”

Earlier in 2022, Applause released the State of digital quality report for travel and hospitality, which tested data across travel and hospitality organisations and found that workflow and functional errors accounted for 59.9% of travel app functional defects.

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