Industry Update
Opinion Article29 October 2019

An App For This, An App For That – Travel Edition

By Matt Peterson, Managing Director at AETHOS Consulting Group

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There is no better time to travel than right now. According to the US Travel Association's US Travel and Tourism Overview 2018, updated June 2019, US domestic travel increased 1.9 percent in 2018 to a total of 2.3 billion person-trips. Domestic leisure travel increased 2.0 percent in 2019 to 1.8 billion person-trips, accounting for 80 percent of all US domestic travel in 2018. Furthermore, leisure travelers (domestic and international) spent a total of $762 billion in 2018, up 6.1 percent from 2017 (not adjusted for inflation).

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When traveling these days, it's not so much about planning where you might be going, but about the experience getting there. There are new apps to help you along the way with fun, time-saving features. Without listing the "usual suspects," here are a few new apps that might pique your interest and even start a dialogue:

Lounge Buddy

This app loads up all the airport lounges near you, including photos and lists of amenities, and offers access through the app. If you're a planner, you can book ahead of time, or if a flight is delayed or you happen to be early, you can book last-minute. Air travel is already stressful enough and having to carry/pay for status is getting more and more annoying. This alleviates some of the pain and allows you to try out different lounges depending on what city you're in.

At Your Gate

This is a newer app that replicates Uber Eats or GrubHub but inside an airport! The app is not just for food; it offers a look at the retail outlets as well. You can browse selections, pay, and wait for delivery at your gate. Right now, this is only offered in limited airports in the US, but this is a great concept. This takes the stress out of getting food and water after you get through security - you might actually have time to enjoy a leisurely stroll through the terminal.

Hopper

Hopper tracks flight prices and gives you updates on whether you should buy now or wait until a later date. What is interesting about this app is how detailed it can get. Beyond just telling you to wait and buy later, it will give you a date when the price will likely be best. It is connected to the airlines so you can also book through the app. The idea of giving you a timeline is really interesting, and I like the ability to click and buy all with my phone. I've used plenty of booking apps for airlines, but this is a nicely integrated app.

Turo

Well, I must include one app that utilizes the concept of a shared economy! Similar to renting a private home, Turo allows the user to rent someone's private car. Not too dissimilar from Airbnb, sometimes the pricing can be cheaper than going through a traditional rental car agency. They also offer deals and discounts for an extended period of time. The other cool aspect is that you can select a nearby pickup point. So, instead of going to a rental car company via shuttle, waiting in a line, and then getting your rental, you can simply head to a predetermined location and be on your way.

There are many more apps out there, and new ones are popping up every day. I'd be curious to know what others think and what your "go-to" travel apps are.

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