In the Trenches: Should There Be an App for That?

BrettSnyder by Brett Snyder on June 15, 2011
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I imagine I’m not alone in wondering whether or not our business should have an “app” for our clients. After all, all the cool kids have them, right? I’m approaching it with much more caution than most. Apps can be great… if there’s a reason for them.

Many people probably don’t even know what an app is. In short, it’s an application that people can download to their smartphones. The most popular, of course, is the Apple iPhone, but Google’s Android phones aren’t far behind. And then there are the lonely Blackberries. There aren’t nearly as many, but it can make sense to develop for them if the app is business-focused.

You would think that apps mint money for publishers, at least that’s how it sounds from the countless emails and calls I get from snake oil salesmen who want to convince me that I need to hire them. Forget it. Apps can make money but that doesn’t mean they work for everyone’s business. But I do think there could be some usefulness there for ours, and that’s why I’m actively exploring the idea.

For me, the whole key is whether or not an app can enhance the customer experience. Some businesses just put out apps that have no real additional functionality beyond what a simple mobile site could. I just can’t imagine downloading those kinds of things. I want real value as a consumer, so I’m not going to release an app without being able to use it to add real value for our clients.

Our clients want us to keep them updated on what’s happening with their travels, and we do that well. But it might be advantageous for us to look at additional ways we can push information to them. If people are using their smart phones, then we should give them the option of using an app to get the information that we provide through alternative means today. That’s why I’m now looking at ways to make that happen. But I’m not rushing.

One of these days, we’ll find a good reason and a strong implementation that will help us put our app into the market. But for now, we’ll just keep working behind the scenes, not feeling the need to dive in just because others say we should.

BrettSnyder

Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.

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