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Ready for Take-Off: How to Get Your Travel App Ready for App Retargeting

Posted on October 8, 2015

Summer’s just about up and gone, but with the cooling air and crispening leaves, people are already looking ahead to their next getaway. The market’s far from cooling off, with the travel industry predicted to spend a whopping $3.49 billion on direct response channels in order to capture this opportunity. The trend we’re all seeing is an enormous shift to smartphones, with users spending increasingly more time on their phones compared to other devices (with apps dominating mobile browsing). The fact that half this total investment will go to mobile says it all!

What’s becoming abundantly clear to marketers is that the install is truly only half the battle. Integral to an app’s financial success is the communication with users that follows after the click of the ‘Install’ button. To ensure a nice healthy customer lifetime value (LTV), users need an enriched experience to make sure they stay active and engaged. So once your app’s made its way successfully onto a mobile device, it’s time to up your game and implement an effective strategy that will boost user engagement, and consequently your bookings. We’ve broken it down into 5 smart, effective best practices:

1.Measure In-App Events

One of the best ways to really get to know how exactly your users interact with your app is by monitoring the in-app events they complete. By understanding how frequently your users are opening up your app, how much time they’re spending on it and various other types of demographic information, you’ll be in a much better position to develop an effective retargeting campaign.


In doing so, you can compare metrics like retention, engagement and LTV against your costs to find a strategy that really drives ROAS. There are plenty of mobile measurement providers that will help you measure in-app events.

2.Set Up For Real-Time

Send your users’ behavioural data to your app retargeting provider in real-time and try to avoid working manually with user lists - there’s nothing worse than retargeting users who’ve already booked a hotel or trip, and equally detrimental would be losing a valuable user to your competition because you started the retargeting process a bit too late.

When you’re setting up, try to pick an app retargeting provider that supports data streaming by your mobile measurement provider of choice so you can avoid the pain of integrating another SDK (software development kit). To up performance that bit more, make sure you leverage as much data as possible by checking if your app retargeting provider supports direct integration with your internal BI system.

Deep links (ie. hyperlinks to URLs for that specific query or product) are absolutely key to user experience and conversion rates. Who’d blame a user for bouncing if, having just found the right hotel or flight, they’re then redirected to a home page that prompts them to go through the whole process again. Integrate deep links and maintain as seamless a transfer as possible.

4.Segment Your Users

Your campaign will perform significantly better if you make sure you’re sending relevant info to the right user groups - the more you can cater your messages, the more likely people are to react.


User Type #1: “New Users”

First impressions count, and users can tell almost immediately if it’s the kind of app that deserves a spot on the smartphone. Allow them a bit of time to get themselves familiarised, but if a day passes and they haven’t opened your app after those initial 24 hours, it’s time to start re-engaging (24 hours after install is generally the point when the app starts to slip from most users minds and they churn). Re-engagement should focus on highlighting your USP, whether it’s

“Super Last Minute Hotel Offers”


“The Most Comfortable Business Class”


“The Cheapest Car Rental Rates”

To measure how successful the process was, consider your cost per re-engagement (how much you spent on each user), the session length (period of time they spent on the app) and your cost of any subsequent actions they perform.

User Type #2: “Researchers”

Re-engage users who have already shown some interest in a particular travel destination or product by prompting them with a little reminder. If the travel date lies more than 30 days in the future, then you should consider them in the research phase, but the exact time span can vary from app to app. Your message should be specific to that unfinished search like

“Check Out Top Hotels in Tuscany”


“Cheap Flights to Paris”

Again, you can measure success by assessing your cost per re-engagement or even by looking at the cost of re-engaging your users with other product queries.

travel app

User Type #3: “Bookers”

You can also group users who are searching over a shorter time span, people who are looking to book trips that aren’t that far in the future (generally if they’ve searched for travel dates within the next 30 days this would indicate a level of immediacy). You can take this opportunity to segment even deeper and target users with more time-specific messages - such as within 30, 21, 14 and 7 days before travel - to stress different levels of marketing pressure. Your message should offer an incentive and present a clear call-to-action to finish off the booking process

“Book Now and Save 10%”


“Last Minute Flights to London”

To monitor performance, consider your cost per booking - preferably with regard to your ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) - calculating the revenue you’ve generated minus your advertising costs.

User Type #4: “Lapsed Bookers”

It’s considerably cheaper to keep hold of your existing clients than to win over new ones, so re-engage users on a regular basis to make sure your app’s at the front of their minds next time they come to make travel plans. If they’ve booked through your app before but haven’t been active for a specified period of time - whether 30 or 60 days depending on the average time you’d usually expect to see between their past booking - then it’s a good time remind them of your app. Your message could be related to new updates or features you’ve rolled out, or alternatively to any special offers that might re-ignite that interest

“Now with Best Price Guarantee”


“More Business Hotels Available”



For tracking its success, take a look at the cost per re-engagement, session length and whether the user has updated your app in the meantime.


5.Track Key Events

To be able to segment your users accordingly, it’s important that you track at least the following events in your app:

  • App opening
  • Flight/hotel/rental car search (including destination, travel date and price bracket)
  • Product view
  • Booking process started
  • Booking process completed
  • Revenue per booking

If you’re realising you don’t have the perfect setup right now, no fear! What’s most essential is getting started as early on as possible, A/B testing and iterating from there.

More questions on how to successfully run app retargeting campaigns or some insights into best practices that have worked for you? We’d love to hear them! Shoot us an email to