Why Testing Travel Apps is So Important — and Where to Start

Even as the summer days come to end, we’ve still got travel on the brain. And we’re not the only ones, it seems.

Chart of the number of global international departures between 1996 and 2015A 2018 report from Deloitte says that, “Travel and tourism is one of the world’s fastest-growing sectors, with bookings hitting close to $1.6 trillion in 2017.”

According to the report, Americans spend more on travel and experiences and eating out than “things” like technology and clothing, and travel accounts for more than one-tenth of the global GDP.

Technology in Travel and Hospitality

This is good news for the travel and hospitality industry, of course—for the airlines and the restaurants and the hotels (and their modern-day accommodation competitors, like AirBNB).

And it’s also why travel apps are more popular than ever.

Whether users need to book transportation, find a place to stay, or figure out what to do when they get to their destination, travel is now managed primarily through technology—thanks to the ease and efficiency it incorporates into what can be an otherwise complex process.

AirBNB, the online hospitality marketplace that turns 10 years old just this week, has relied on tech (and consumers’ increasing use of it) from the very beginning. By advertising “airbeds”—and eventually rooms and entire households—via web and mobile applications, AirBNB (and competitors like VRBO) connected people, provided “home-style” housing, and created unique new experiences for travelers.

The Deloitte report shows that hotel business is still booming though: “The hotel industry continues a run of strong performance and is projected to sustain strong 5–6 percent growth throughout 2018.” With more and more people booking hotel rooms online and through external applications like Hotwire and HotelTonight, hotels have also focused on optimizing the web and mobile experience they can offer their guests.

The airline industry is perhaps the most in need of transformation — though the number of people flying increased 6.6% last year, the industry has been continually plagued by problems as big as computer outages and electrical fires and as small as overbooked flights and lost luggage. But they do seem to be catching on, with better technology named as one of the key airline industry trends to watch this year. Deloitte says airlines are “leveraging maturing technology such as Internet of Things (IoT) to redefine the curb-to-gate-to-plane experience.”

And with Americans spending 44 percent of their food budgets dining out (whether they’re on vacation or not!), restaurants have been using apps to get those dollars spent on their food—with everything from Yelp to Postmates to OpenTable to restaurants’ own proprietary applications making reservations, ordering, and food delivery easier than ever.

Why Testing Matters in Travel and Hospitality

Clearly, people are traveling and taking advantage of hospitality experiences more than they ever have before — and more and more people are using web and mobile applications to book and participate in these experiences. Users expect the same (if not better) level of service and efficiency when using apps to coordinate and take part in their travel experiences.

Travel apps aren’t just used by a specific group of people in a specific part of the world either. They’re being used by people from nearly every geographic region — for the same general reason but often in very different ways. One app from one hotel or one restaurant or one airline may be accessed and used very differently depending on who and where it’s being used. That being the case, one singular app needs to accommodate an often global audience — with varying currencies, time and date formatting, languages, features, and more.

Screenshot of AirBNB host webpageFinally, the accurate functionality and usability of these apps is also significant because their usability actually affects people’s livelihoods. TechCrunch reported that, in a 2015 letter to New York legislators, Airbnb’s then-public policy chief, David Hantman, wrote: “The majority of [AirBNB] hosts use the money they earn to pay their bills and stay in their homes.”

Testing travel and hospitality apps ensures that they work the way they’re supposed to, offering an ideal experience for both users and vendors.

Types of Testing for Travel Apps

Connectivity Testing

Mobile apps and Internet of Things (IoT) devices are increasingly how more and more people are booking and experiencing travel and hospitality—particularly because mobile devices (and watches and smart speakers) are the items that actually come with users on a trip.

As such, more and more brands are creating apps and experiences specifically for these types of devices. And testing connectivity—ensuring that your app works on all network types and under varying conditions—is critical. Apps like Google Maps are great for travelers, because they can be accessed and used regardless of connection or location.

Accessibility Testing

We know, we know — we’ve talked about accessibility testing before (and before that and before that), but that’s just how important it is!

Accessibility testing is especially important when your target user could be . . . well, anyone—and that’s rarely as true as it is for travel and hospitality applications.

Accessibility testing ensures that your app is usable and functional via various access points—such as including alt-text, incorporating keyboard-only navigation, color contrast ratios, and video closed captions, amongst other things.

Globalization Testing

Up close image of an Apple Watch on a man's hand showing flight ticket in Apple WalletSpeaking of having a broad user base, globalization testing is imperative for apps that target people from around the world.

In the same way that travel is not exclusive to any one type of person, travel is not exclusively popular in any one area of the world. Globalization testing ensures that your app not only functions properly, but is usable and flexible for users in every part of the world, within every culture, and in every language.

This is, understandably, a complex task, but it can be made simpler by understanding the geographies you target and creating automated tests for each.

Security Testing

Travel apps contains just as much personal information (if not more) than fintech apps. Not only do they often include the usual financial details, they can also include passport information, home address, travel itineraries, and more.

Security testing is vital for travel and hospitality apps to not only ensure the avoidance of fraudulent activity, but also to ensure the physical safety of your app users as they travel — or even when they arrive back home.

Conclusion

As with fintech and health technology apps, these are just a few of many different methods of testing that can (and should) be utilized before launching your travel and hospitality apps to travelers around the world.

We offer testing services mentioned here—for travel apps and so much more! Get in touch with us to learn more about the test strategy we can create for you.

Figure 1 via Deloitte, Apple Watch Photo via David Preston
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