With Travel Restrictions Lifted, App Retargeting Is More Important Than Ever.

Travel apps are seeing a surge in downloads since more countries have started to lift Covid-19 travel restrictions. With more travelers making their way to popular destinations and using mobile apps to plan their trips, app retargeting becomes ever more relevant for affected mobile businesses.

Programmatic retargeting allows you to target users who have or had already downloaded your app and could be interested in booking future trips or looking at travel content. With a programmatic advertising strategy in place, it is easier than ever to reconnect and become again the preferred platform of choice.

Back to travel - a spike in travel app downloads

As travel restrictions start to lift, travel apps see a spike in downloads. While borders open up and more flight routes are reopened, people are looking to catch up on much needed experiences and escapes. And they need apps to do so. 

In October 2021 alone, U.S.-bound flight bookings reached 70% of pre-pandemic levels, with international travel accounting for 52% of those passengers.

At the same time, the easing of travel restrictions is accelerating travel app usage and digital transformation in this vertical. In the last 18 months, apps have adapted to the new circumstances by integrating new features as vaccination requirement overviews or new passport information.

According to Travelport's report, nearly two-thirds of travelers rely on mobile apps before and during trips. Also, 58% of travelers in APAC prefer engaging with apps. This trend hasn't changed. Apps have replaced in-person interactions at travel agents or country borders – 36% of travelers in APAC said they engage more with apps for safety reasons. 

Mobile apps are a revenue driver for global tourism. Travelers are looking for apps to inspire them to choose the next destination and help plan and support their trips. Mobile marketers do well in making use of this momentum and preparing to capture this audience as well as re-engage with past users that might have lapsed or even uninstalled their apps.

Ride the growth wave with app retargeting

Levels of engagement in travel apps had dropped considerably in the last 18 months. This scenario is changing now. Retargeting ads are hence more important than ever to (re)capture valuable customers showing interest in travel again before competitors capture market share for the long-term. Programmatic retargeting provides apps with the ability to precisely target consumers based on their interests and past behaviors across devices.

Retargeting is a cornerstone to app marketing, and with good reason. 98% of visitors do not convert during the first app visit, and after seven days, only 15% of users are retained. This is true with the traveler's path to purchase, as they navigate from app to app, spending time researching and comparing before they decide and book.

Armed with data on users' behaviors, travel apps should prepare for the influx of users and give them a stellar experience as a welcome back to the app. 

Drive app usage by making a great first impression

Now that the face of travel is changing, travelers will have specific needs and will be looking for information regarding travel requirements, health and safety, best routes, and deals. Travel apps will be in a prime position to act as the main point of knowledge source to support their journeys. 

On the one hand, this is great news for app businesses; on the other hand, it creates new challenges: how do you engage with users in a meaningful way? How do you keep them engaged in your app? How do you drive conversions?

Travel apps need to shift their advertising strategy from relying only on user acquisition and organic installs to a solid app retargeting strategy.

In APAC, 83% of users have a travel app installed on their device but in terms of usage, the numbers fall behind: only 61% of users used the app at least once, and only around 36% use it regularly. Retargeting ads should be prioritized for travel because of their efficiency in targeting those travelers at scale who have installed an app but haven't used it. Retargeting can balance these numbers by supporting apps in bringing back existing users and offering a great in-app experience, eventually leading to improved retention and users' LTV (lifetime value).

App retargeting is also a cost-effective and targeted way to reach your most valuable users, the ones who have converted in the past but had gone inactive. These are your app's ideal users as they are already familiar with your brand. They are likely looking for products or services related to their upcoming trip and will be more receptive to marketing messages that fit this demand.

Things to consider when planning your app’s retargeting campaigns

Here is what to consider when planning your programmatic advertising campaigns:

🔹  Precise targeting and audience intelligence: Identify your user segments with the highest ROAS before the pandemic. Analyzing your historical data and comparing it with your most recent results will allow you to better define who to target this time around. Take note that if your audiences are predominantly on iOS, you won't be able to run deterministic retargeting and have to divert towards blended Programmatic Impact Campaigns.

🔹  Remain focused on your long-tail user segments and continue to re-engage to sustain your organic growth.

🔹  Finetune your messaging: attune your user experience to focus on trust and relevancy. In your messaging, avoid the mere "push sale," but shift your ad creatives to communicate the most relevant information/service you can offer to travelers in the current conditions.

🔹  Keep a pulse on which campaigns are driving the most results and be prepared to iterate from there: your programmatic partner can advise and guide you through this process.

🔹  Invest in app retargeting as a long-term strategy. Planning retargeting campaigns to continue driving conversions in user segments that offered the highest ROAS in the past is a sound approach. A structured retargeting campaign can drive immediate results and support your brand in maintaining a healthy presence. 

Don't entirely rely on the organic growth that travel is now experiencing. This might be short-lived. Use this momentum to create a sustainable growth path for the long haul by reengaging with your users. Programmatic retargeting ads with personalized messaging can prove to be the wiser move for your long term app growth.


Want to know more about how programmatic can be useful for your app? Check our programmatic insights for marketers looking incremental growth here.

Marta Gaspar

As a Marketing Lead, Marta manages and writes for the RevX blog. She's passionate about data-driven stories and turning ideas into prose and campaigns. A digital marketer by training and a content strategist with 11 years of experience, Marta likes to stay updated on AdTech and the Marketing world in general.