Gogobot, a travel reviews startup in San Francisco, has fully re-designed its app for iPhone and Android, to better reflect how mobile users research and book travel on the go.
One of Gogobot's key monetization goals is to increase its hotel bookings, because the startup gets a slice of the commissions. CEO Travis Katz says:
"Contrary to conventional wisdom, people are booking hotels on mobile. Conversion rates for our mobile bookers are roughly on par with our Web/desktop hotel conversion rates.
Additionally, our mobile users are spending 25% more per night on mobile, versus on desktop, on average .... Today about 45% of Gogobot's traffic is happening on mobile plus tablet.
Many users not shopping by price
Gogobot has had a mobile app for two years, but it decided to redesign it with about 20 new features. The revamped app reflects the industry's latest thinking on how travelers change their expectations when shifting from desktop devices to mobile ones.
The changes also reflect the startup's efforts to stand out from services like TripAdvisor and Yelp, such as by capitalizing on a trend of travelers making choices based on travel personalities and style rather than price.
For instance, one of Gogobot's features -- called Tribes -- provides a user with recommendations based on his or her personality, as determined by a quick, questionnaire-style interface, in which the user selects multiple-choice interests, such as “foodie” and “local culture”.
The company says its interests-based filters, rolled out a few months ago, are already a success. When looking for hotels on Gogobot, more users are sorting by Tribes (i.e., interests like "foodie") than by price.
One caveat: a significant number of users don't do any filters or sorts. But when they do, Tribes wins over price. Says Katz:
"That's great news for suppliers, who don't want their product commoditized based on price.
Hotel marketers have long known that people shop by interests. For instance, Starwood knows that Westin Hotels appeal to different people than W Hotels do, and they market accordingly.
Gogobot's redesigned app brings us in line with how mobile users search. Importantly for suppliers, our users who are filtering results by personality/interest are converting at higher rates than those searching by price only."
Rebuilding an app from the ground up
The app has been revised to be more photo-centric, following the lead of the most popular mobile apps, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
When Gogobot previously enlarged the size of photos in its app, it saw a 35% increase in time spent on the app. The company expects a similar gain with its newest app design, which is even more emphatically about visuals.
Helping travelers plan trips "in the moment" is another goal of the app, which means information has to be vastly stripped down and presented in an infographic style for quick comprehension on a tiny screen.
The new app design puts Gogobot’s makes bigger, and more frequent use. of the more than 4 million photos on the platform. The photos have been uploaded by users and businesses, as well as Creative Commons images that the site's employees have added.
We've found that our users on mobile devices are turning to Gogobot mostly "in the now." They're often researching, booking, and navigating a destination either immediately or with only about 24 hours' advance notice.
They're in Maui and they want to know which beach they should go to this morning. That's very different from what we see on the desktop service, where advance planning is more common.
Our app lets users filter results by date, meaning only things open for business on a particular date appear in results.
The revamped app also enables location-based reviews. Says the company: "Gogobot now recognizes where you are at any given moment and can give insight into local weather, what’s trending, and the most popular places to go given your location."
There's also enhanced map capabilities for 60,000 destinations worldwide. A user can look at a particular hotel or at their current location, and then click over to a map to see how close is it to the most popular attractions in the city.
They can toggle to an interface that reveals which restaurants that are close by. They can then book a table via OpenTable, where restaurants have that offering available.
A new collaborative itineraries builder enables multiple users to build, add, and share their day-by-day itinerary.
Katz says, you can save items to an itinerary on the go, and drag-and-drop the order of activities on the fly. You can then add friends who are also Gogobot app users, so that you can together sync and share itineraries in real-time.
The service is cross-platform, so if you start creating a trip plan on Gogobot's desktop website, it will be automatically synced to your mobile app.
Mobile users disproportionately look for attractions first and then seek a hotel, unlike the reverse behavior on desktop interfaces. Comments Katz:
"So what we've done with our mapping functionality is that if you create a trip plan you can toggle that on when you're in hotel search and find properties relevant to the main attractions you're planning to see.
In other words, your hotel search is filtered by where you're thinking of visiting. Gogobot recently launched hotel metasearch, which broadens the results."
Gogobot says it differs from other user-generated services like TripAdvisor and Yelp primarily in the level of personalization it offers. Says Katz:
Older services built around anonymous reviews have very limited filtering options.
In contrast, on Gogobot, if you're Facebook connected, you can find activities that are popular in your network. But even if you opt not to share your Facebook details, as long as you identify a few of your interests, we can sort the reviews to provide the most relevant one to uses.
Most users particularly in the mobile space are more time-constrained, so the goal is not sorting through big piles of reviews.
Our mobile offering is more adapted to mobile usage patterns than what the older brands offer. We give you the most important highlights in the most mobile-friendly way.
For example, how to figure out in 10 seconds if a hotel is going to be interesting to you.
Gogobot is enjoying go-go growth, but says it’s not social travel