Top Mobile Apps for Summer Travel

By Phil McGuinness

At Key Lime Interactive, we’ve provided competitive research analysis in the Auto Insurance and Banking Industry mobile app offerings for years. Now, on the heels of TripAdvisor reporting a milestone of 100 million iPhone and Android app downloads, we decided to take a quick peek at four top travel booking apps to see how they compare. We selected four brands and evaluated the Android app flight finding and booking process to find out which have the best usability, ranking them not only on number of features, but execution.

Our Methodology

The apps were awarded points or scored based on two criteria

  1. The total number of available capabilities to users
  2. The successful execution of each

In review, each app was credited for an integrated capability, such as sorting, filtering, alerts, or the ability to save flight information. After this we looked at the execution of each feature to provide more nuance to the rankings, such as the number of sorting/filtering options provided or the flexibility of alert settings for apps that had flight alerts. The final positioning of each app in our ranking is based on a combination of those two measurements.

NUMBER 4: Expedia

ExpediaExpedia is far and above the best looking app of the this group, from the landing screen that scrolls hotel and flight destinations via colorful pictures, to the search results loading screen that mimics the view out your airplane window. The app is also extremely quick and responsive, allowing both departing and return flights to be selected without any extended load time. However, there is not much that stands out in this app beyond those features. The flight search has only a few basic options. The results page and booking engine are relatively sparse, with only four sorting options available for results. Although the aesthetics are exceptional, the lack of functionality in Expedia’s app results in a lower ranking in comparison to the other apps we reviewed.

NUMBER 3: Priceline

PricelinePriceline, which acquired Kayak in June 2013, ranked just ahead of Expedia in the find flight and booking analysis. The app has a strong branding message. William Shatner and Kaley Cuoco are available in the lower left hand corner to chauffeur you through a flight search. During the search process, Priceline saves recent airport searches in a list, which rewards the user for repeated uses of the app. The results page also provides six different sorting options, from Number of Stops to Airline, which is great for users who want to avoid specific airlines or too many layovers. While the remainder of the experience is solid, Priceline lacks to the bells and whistles of some of the apps in this competitor set.

NUMBER 2: TripAdvisor

TripadvisorTripAdvisor’s strengths are apparent from the minute you land on the results page, where sorting and filtering options are available. This allows users to select time of day for departure or arrival, the number of stops, or to view specific airlines. Additionally, users can request alerts for flight prices from within the app, and the bottom bar links to comparison rates from other providers making it easier for bargain hunters to find the best price. Finally, users who want to save their information for later can e-mail their itinerary after selecting flights - a very convenient feature for frequent travelers who need to keep their itinerary close at hand.

AND THE WINNER IS... Kayak

Kayak Kayak’s no-frills interface belies a wealth of functionality, and ranks first primarily due to stronger execution of features that can be found in the TripAdvisor app. Kayak has the most robust sorting and filtering menus available, as well as extensive options for setting alerts. The app is also the only one we evaluated that allowed multi-city flight searches. Anyone thinking of hopping around Europe this summer will appreciate this feature. During the flight search, the Kayak app allows users to add any nearby airports to their search, truly a plus when traveling to or from areas with multiple airports that may have better fares. The quality of Kayak’s many features make it best in class for flight finding and booking.

We hope you found this ranking helpful. Key Lime Interactive offers expanded custom competitive research. If you’d like more information, please contact KLI here.

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