In the travel industry, the digital revolution in booking trips happened a decade ago, but customers are now starting to ask for digital services during their trip as well. The Aurinkomatkat app has been available for roughly a year now and, judging from customer feedback and user analytics, travelers have received the service enthusiastically.

“The Aurinkomatkat app was designed to serve travelers as well as possible during their trip”, says Product Owner Elina Martikainen of the Aurinkomatkat application team. “The app provides guidance and tips, with the option of a chat connection to tour guides. Local schedules and tour bookings make it easier to plan your day, and the app also includes an offline map. In practice, the app contains the same information and tips as the holiday folders in your hotel.”

Expertise leveraged in development

The change did not happen by itself. The deployment of the Aurinkomatkat application required the renewal of processes throughout the chain, from the job descriptions of tour guides to content creation and design. The work required a long-term perspective and the assessment and identification of impacts.

“The development team understood perfectly what we were looking and immediately started building precisely the app we wanted”, Martikainen says. “The expertise of the entire organization was utilized in a fantastic way in the design stages, and the app has been really well received by the staff of Aurinkomatkat as well.”

The application is currently available for Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Phuket, Khao Lak, Crete, Rhodes and, as the latest addition, Mallorca. Three new destinations will be released in June, with more following in the second half of 2017.

Development steered by customer wishes and analytics

Customer satisfaction with the Aurinkomatkat application is high: the average in-app evaluation is 4 on a scale of 1 to 5. One of the app’s most popular features is the tour guide chat. More than 50 per cent of users send an average of 7 to 8 messages to tour guides through the service. The chat functionality has been extremely well received by customers, which is frequently reflected in customer feedback.

When Aurinkomatkat begins concepting a new service, they test their ideas with Aurinkoheimo, an active group of travel-enthusiastic consumers. The agency also listens carefully to feedback collected on a regular basis during development.

“We noticed that people actually use the app a lot before their trip”, Martikainen says. “The next phase will be developing the service to support the customer better in planning and preparing for their trip.”

Tours and activities focusing on local culture and experiences are definitely one of this summer’s travel trends, and the application can help users find precisely these types of activities. The offline map shows suggested activities in the area and helps with spontaneous planning.

“From a design perspective, it is extremely valuable to learn what people actually want from the service”, says Liisa Stenberg, the Qvik AD responsible for designing and concepting the Aurinkomatkat app and the web site’s new trip search function. “After that, we can measure how our designs are working and improve the app on that basis.”

The most frequent criticism voiced by customers is that the application is not available for all destinations yet. Implementing the application for a new destination involves creating a great deal of new, more detailed content and on-site instructions for the destination, and generating this content takes time. Expansion of the service to cover all destinations is being planned, however.

In addition to the application, Aurinkomatkat recently updated the trip search on their web site. The new web site search function increased conversion by more than 60 per cent. Read more about it here!