Multinational travel and tourism company, TUI Group, is taking its mobile customer experience to a new level, inspiring and supporting customers during their vacation – as well as optimising the mobile booking process.
We spoke to TUI’s Senior European Commercial Manager, Maria Bobrowska, to find out more.
Your role at TUI has a strong mobile app focus…
Yes, I work in the internal start-up division, which is responsible for creating apps for all our source markets – Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Nordics and the UK. I’m responsible for app marketing and commercial return on the advancements we introduce into the app, including strategy crafting, execution and coordination with the markets.
How important is mobile as a channel to TUI?
It’s extremely important; our business sees mobile as the future sales channel. Last year we had 2.5 million active mobile users, of which 450,000 are solely in Germany, and that number will continue to grow aggressively.
How does customer behaviour differ on mobile in comparison to desktop/laptop devices, and how have these behaviours influenced your mobile strategy?
One important difference is in the customer demographic – on mobile we are dealing with a slightly younger clientele than our typical desktop visitor. We also tend to find mobile app users are more loyal, and therefore generate a higher conversion rate. This really reinforces the need to create a seamless mobile experience; as mobile demand grows, we need to work even harder to meet customer expectations.
We also see a difference in the markets that we operate. The UK and Nordics are very mobile driven, they are definitely more adventurous in the ways they interact with us. However, we are still seeing constant growth in other European markets.
Talk me through some of your latest strategic mobile developments…
We’ve really focused on evolving our mobile app from a booking tool to a digital assistant, which can support our customers in the build up to their departure. Smartphones are the one device that consumers always have with them, so it’s a really useful channel for enhancing the holiday experience in this respect.
We have also extended our app capabilities during the holiday itself, enhancing the resort experience by providing an overview of activities. Customers can even use the app to check into some of our hotels within the German market.
I can’t say much at the moment about what we’re doing next, but I can reveal that we’re looking to make the in-destination experience more seamless from the moment customers land. We want to make sure our content is ready to inspire customers, as well as encouraging them to book a holiday.
How do you ensure your apps drive revenue at the same time as offering a great customer experience?
Good question! It’s all about finding the right balance to ensure the app serves our customers, eases their journey with us, and make the purchase process easy.
Do you feel the travel industry is ahead of the curve when it comes to mobile customer experience?
There are definitely strong, dominant players in travel with a well-established mobile strategy, however there are also new, upcoming travel brands that are disrupting traditional business models.
At TUI we recognise the need to monitor what is happening in the wider industry when it comes to the mobile customer experience, and stay on the curve of growth and innovation to ensure we remain relevant.
What advice would you give other businesses whose mobile strategies aren’t as advanced as TUI?
Definitely test and trial. Start with the most important parts of the customer journey, optimise those areas, and then build from there. Pick the moments that cause the most pain points for mobile users – so long as you balance the commercial benefits of investing in this area.
It’s also important to assess an internal versus external approach when it comes to what development resources you use, in order to get the best output.