Boost App Sales: 5 Conversion Lessons from the Top Travel Apps



In this article, we discuss how to boost your app sales with 5 conversion lessons from top travel apps. But why travel apps?

Travel apps face a unique problem trying to get users to stick. Most people don’t book flights or make hotel reservations each month. This means that successful travel apps have to do a lot more to provide value that extends beyond a single vacation or business trip.

The best mobile travel apps don’t sink cash into an arms race for installs and promotions. Instead, they make their apps inherently sticky by driving users to the core value faster.

So what’s the best way for a travel app to convert eager but busy browsers into paying customers? The answer: through an easy and seamless checkout flow.

In what follows, we’ll take a look at five different conversion flows that work for different travel apps to give you ideas on how to build yours to boost your app sales.

KAYAK: Highlighting Buyer Security

Kayak has become one of the biggest and most-recognized names in online travel. The company’s large user base has allowed them to test and optimize nearly every aspect of the Kayak mobile app.

Among the features the Kayak team tested was removing their buyer security assurance during checkout. Despite the company’s solid reputation in the travel space, Kayak recognized that mobile payments were fairly new for most people and may cause worries about the safety of the information shared through the app.

There’s a line of reasoning, however, that says that such assurances only remind customers of risks they wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. So Kayak experimented with removing the security assurance from their flow and tracked conversions.


Though most people probably don’t know what an “SSL/TLS encrypted payment” is without looking it up, Vinayak Ranade, Director of Engineering for Mobile at Kayak noted that “when we removed the messaging, people tended to book less.”

Letting people know that their information is safe with your app can boost buyer confidence and app sales by eliminating any doubts from the user’s mind.

Airbnb: Compartmentalizing Forms for Ease of Flow

Airbnb revolutionized the hotel booking industry by creating a creditable marketplace for travel rentals. And not long after they launched online, they also went mobile with an app.

The company overhauled its app with the aim of making it more in tune with how their customers search for and book places to stay through their phones. In the words of Katie Dill, who leads experience design for the app, the main goal with the redesign has been to make mobile “the best way to book Airbnb.”

That included re-imagining how the booking process would look on mobile from the ground up.


Airbnb compartmentalized each step of the check out flow into its own individual task. For each task, they created a dedicated screen where users can accomplish that task only without any distractions.

Although the overhauled process adds a few clicks and screens to the checkout flow, it also majorly eases the process. With no long and overwhelming sign-up or payment forms in sight, the user quickly moves through each step leading to the final contract agreement with great speed.

If your app requires a similar process for collecting user information, consider breaking your forms down into tasks for better presentation and to boost app sales.

Hopper: Using Push Notification to Drive Value

Hopper is a mobile app that helps people track flight prices and get the best deal on airfares. Its most innovative feature is the “watch” button that allows users to track flight prices over time.

In order to give users the best of this feature, Hopper also incorporates push notifications into its systems. The minute a watched flight changes price in either direction, Hopper sends a push notification noting the change and advising users on what to do next: buy now or wait for a better price.


According to the Hopper team, over 60% of the notifications they send are about encouraging people to wait for a better price. The results? About 90% of the app’s revenue now comes from push notifications.

Push notifications can sometimes get a bad rap as pesky and annoying—and rightly so! Used strategically, however, they can deliver value by keeping users updated with something they’ve already shown interest in by pressing that “watch” button. Used this way, they become a powerful driver for app sales.

The key to incorporating push notifications into you app is to deliver things that hold value for your user—even if that means you advise them not to buy now—rather than the “offers” that you want to send them, such as random discount coupons and announcements.

HotelTonight: Making Sign-Up a Post-Conversion Process

HotelTonight carved its own niche in the hotel booking industry by focusing on last-minute hotel bookings for those who want “to take advantage of the serendipity in life.”

With one of the company’s guiding principles being “challenge conventions,” the mobile design team decided to do something radical with the app’s checkout flow: put the sign-up process at the end of the conversion flow, rather than at the start.

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Taking a cue from e-commerce sites that allow users to buy freely without an account, the app experimented with moving the sign-up process to the end of the sales process, using the data entered during the first checkout to create the user’s profile.

After implementing that change through the Apptimize platform, they saw a 15% lift in conversions. Amanda Richardson, who oversaw the process on Hotel Tonight, says the biggest lesson was that even when you have a very slim conversion funnel, you should look for ways to cut it down even further.

United Airlines: Amplifying Options

As noted at the beginning, one of the original benefits of online travel booking was the proliferation of options that gave users greater control over their travel plans. And that benefit still works just as well in the travel app world today as it did in the early days of online travel.

The trick, however, is to present as many options as possible without overwhelming the user and causing inaction. United Airlines seems to have found the sweet spot between the two extremes in its flight booking flow.

boost app sales

Presenting flights first by time, duration, and lowest available price, it then goes on to give users more options on their selected flight based on class and comfort level—a feature that few other flight booking apps offer.

Imagine how long and confusing the original list would become by including all three options for each individual flight! Grouping various price points under one option initially gives you the ability to present all options without overwhelming your user.

Boost App Sales: 5 Lessons Recap

Even though the companies we’ve reviewed here are trusted and well-known, they don’t take their success for granted. They know that in order to make users happy and to keep them buying, they must optimize their conversion flows for better and easier usability.

Otherwise, it won’t be long before their user base abandons them en masse for a better, faster, or safer option.

The key ways to optimize for mobile conversions that we’ve seen here are:

  • Highlighting Buyer Security
  • Compartmentalizing Forms for Ease of Flow
  • Using Push Notification to Drive Value
  • Making Sign-Up a Post-Conversion Process
  • Offering More Options Without Overwhelming Users

Your app is a shortcut to your customers. It’s a channel that you own and control. By optimizing the experience you offer on it, you can turn your customers into loyal followers of your brand and boost your app sales.

Apptimize helps mobile teams achieve outstanding growth through intelligent iteration driven by A/B Testing, Release Management, and our Strategic Growth Services. Want to learn more about how Apptimize can help grow your business? Request a demo using the form below.

About Apptimize

Apptimize is an innovation engine that provides A/B testing and feature release management for native mobile, web, mobile web, hybrid mobile, OTT, and server. Industry leaders like HotelTonight, The Wall Street Journal, and Glassdoor have created amazing user experiences with Apptimize.

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