If your destination doesn’t already have one, the following elements of a high-quality app will help you determine what will best benefit your organization, and your app’s users.
1. Makes a Good First Impression
If your users don’t have a positive experience right out of the gate, they might not stick around to see the amazing content. In fact, 48 percent of users “would be less likely” to use the app again if they are dissatisfied with its performance. Your app should open quickly (preferably within two seconds), and open to a frequently-used screen.
2. Has a Well-Defined Goal
It’s not enough to say “Well, I guess we need to have an app.” That app needs to serve a purpose, and a clearly-defined goal. Are you trying to grow brand awareness to reach a larger audience? Are you trying to strengthen ties with your already-existing audience, or encouraging them to join the conversation? Should your app be a master key for a visitor to your destination?
3. Showcases Your Destination Well
A good app can be a wealth of content for the interested traveler, provided that content is only available when they want it. Thankfully, an attractive destination offers a huge range of possibilities. Guided tours, augmented and virtual reality experiences, information on local points of interest, and of course eye-catching photography can all be used to show the best your destination has to offer.
4. Suits its Platform(s)
Another important part of design, your app should work well across platforms, whether that’s a smartphone, web browser, tablet, or so on. This will depend on the demographics of your specific brand’s audience, but you can get an extremely detailed breakdown for what groups are using which devices on the Pew Research Center’s site.
5. Fast and Functional
A good app does what its users need it to do right away, and makes it easy for them to do it. This means non-vital features don’t take up a lot of space. Instead, the most-used or important features should be front and center. “Consumers want proactive and relevant (to them) information and services within the context of their location at a particular time,” the global study Mobile Apps: What Consumers Really Need and Want states. Whether the app is used during planning or the trip itself, it needs to cater to users’ immediate needs.
6. A Visual Interface
Particularly if your users are on mobile devices, your app should focus on a visual appearance. Quality images of your destination and its features should be favored over text; options will be more quickly understood by users, and need fewer touches to use. And since your destination’s visuals are one of its most powerful selling points, finding multiple ways to highlight them isn’t a bad idea.
7. Useful Before, During, and After Their Trip
Depending on its users’ needs, a good app can help them decide on a destination and research it before they travel, give them options and access during the trip, and encourage them to share their own photos and videos after they’ve returned home. You may choose to focus on just one phase, but an app that is useful throughout its users’ full experience will have more staying power.
8. Is Viral-Ready
“Can we make it go viral?” isn’t an easy question to answer with a straight face. But your app or campaign will never go viral if it’s not prepared when opportunity presents itself. A good DMO app makes it easy for users to share content and experiences to their social platforms. A great app also encourages them to do that, and leverages their content to grow your footprint through likes, shares, and comments.
Just like a good marketing campaign, a quality DMO app will encourage the user to do something (or several things). Whether that is booking a room, share your content on social media, incentivizing them to patronize local businesses, or learning more about your offerings, a good app makes that call to action obvious, without being intrusive.
With cellphones in the hands of 92 percent of American adults, an app will likely be the way your future guests learn about your destination, and factor heavily into their travel decisions. If the app that bridges the gap between them and your destination is well-designed, useful and entertaining, the odds of earning their business can only get better.