Travel apps roll out engagement rewards
The Future. New travel platforms like Hopper and OYO are turning to features like referral programs, app-engagement rewards, and even mini-games to build customer loyalty while cutting down on marketing costs. While travel analysts stress that people will always turn to whatever gives them the best deal, these platforms may provide those savings in exchange for endless engagement.
WSJ reports that travel apps are trying to convince users to engage with their product even when they’re not planning a trip.
Here’s how one platform, Hopper (the most-downloaded travel-booking app in the US last year), is doing it:
- To start, Hopper debuted a rewards program that can be used for various travel vouchers and deals.
- It’s in beta on a feature called “Daily Gift” that rewards people for simply opening the app. If a user does so for seven consecutive days, they receive $10 in the in-app currency called “Carrot Cash.”
- It’s also testing features like rewarding users for filling out their account information, referring others to the app, and playing mini-games.
- The features are already working, with Hopper reporting that the open rate for users using the features is 5-10x more than other users.
Other platforms are trying similar tactics, including the India-based OYO hotel chain and IHG Hotels & Resorts.
The ultimate benefit of the new features is that they provide a cheaper marketing alternative versus having to pay for higher rankings in Google Search results (still the most used way for people to look for travel accommodations). Customers have reportedly already redeemed over $50 million in “rewards, vouchers, and flash deals” in just 12 months — that’s more than the company’s external marketing budget.
The features also build customer loyalty to the app, which helps with retention… and keeping people booking directly on the platform than through search engines.