Apptopia recently released the market report “Travel Trendlines” bookmarking the performance of travel market segments and applications in 2021. These analytics cover 6 broad categories—OTAs, hotels, airlines, car rental, and cruise lines for the U.S. market.
We open with OTA apps, an outlier among Travel app categories for its accelerated growth in response to the pandemic. It’s not to say that bookings did not decrease substantially, but people turned to the apps to reschedule, cancel and dreamily browse deals and destinations for when the world reopened.
Hopper, which was well-known for letting users track flight routes for the cheapest time to travel (supporting the dreamy browsing), also happened to launch products like Price Freeze, Flight Disruption Guarantee and Cancel for Any Reason in late 2019. It grew 494% in 2021 and overtook Airbnb as the leader in market share by monthly active users beginning June 2021. In January 2022, it launched a short-term rental product, ‘Homes’.
It's worth noting that Vrbo, the short-term home rentals app owned by Expedia, has also been growing usage at a faster rate than Airbnb lately. It increased sessions per MAU in the U.S. from September 2021 to February 2022 by 43%. That's more than any OTA app during the time period. Vrbo’s downloads also surged to 1.5 million US downloads in February 2022, it's most ever for a calendar month.
As renting homes gained popularity throughout 2021, the impact of adding “short-term home rentals” to app descriptions performed significantly better. Companies that utilized this tactic for advertising and promotional campaigns saw a 180% increase in downloads and a 352% increase in user sessions.
Expedia found similar success by changing its subtitle to “find your next vacation rental”. It was the second Fastest-grower in the market with 49% year-over-year growth.
Expedia also capitalized on another consumer trend: “Escapism browsing”. It developed widgets that tempted users with a picture of a new dreamy destination every day. Widgets are a savvy tactic to remind users about what your app has to offer in an aesthetically pleasing way - something Travel apps can certainly take advantage of.