The choice of mobile web development platforms is not as important as making sure your mobile apps are easy to use and deliver a return investment.
Travel firms are not alone in facing a choice of HTML5 mobile web, hybrid or native apps, but Sergio Falletti, director of Future Platforms, said “there was no one winner”. He added: “it is horse for courses”.
Falletti was speaking at the Travel Technology Initiative Autumn Conference today, the day after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg admitted a mistake in “betting too much on HTML5”.
“There has been a move away from apps being more about research and development and more to commerce and sales,” he said.
“Most mobile apps we are building today have very clear business cases against them and they usually need to work with the systems around them.
“You are starting to get to a place where you are looking at mobile not in a silo but as part of a wider experience. You start to talk about cross-channel experience.”
Falletti used an example of a client from outside travel to demonstrate this with the app developed by Domino Pizzas.
This allows users to combine with fellow diners in different locations to collaborate online on deciding on their order and arrange to have the order ready to be picked up later.
This service integrates mobile, web browsing and email to automate the process.
Falletti said the best mobile apps are kept simple and do not try to do too much. He highlighted the easyJet app launched last year as a good example.
Future Platforms has also worked with lasminute.com and Falletti said it has used mobile web for its Apple and Android presence whereas it opted for native apps for Nokia and Windows phones.
He said this was because conversions on Apple and Android were high but not so good on Nokia and Windows.
“Part of the work we were doing was making the booking and payment process as slick as possible so we have very good conversions. We also created an experience that was far more engaging than on the mobile site,” said Falletti.
He told delegates it was important to have a playful element in their mobile apps to increase customer engagement and to be wary of the cost of ownership of a mobile presence.
“You may have squeezed down development costs but you still end up with applications and mobile sites that need to be managed and maintained.
“You need to always think about how you keep it updated. Ongoing costs of ownership should be considered rather than seeing it as a surprise later on.”