In the Trenches: Should There Be an App for That?

I imagine I’m not alone in wondering whether or not our business should have an “app” for our clients. After all, all the cool kids have them, right? I’m approaching it with much more caution than most. Apps can be great… if there’s a reason for them.

Many people probably don’t even know what an app is. In short, it’s an application that people can download to their smartphones. The most popular, of course, is the Apple iPhone, but Google’s Android phones aren’t far behind. And then there are the lonely Blackberries. There aren’t nearly as many, but it can make sense to develop for them if the app is business-focused.

You would think that apps mint money for publishers, at least that’s how it sounds from the countless emails and calls I get from snake oil salesmen who want to convince me that I need to hire them. Forget it. Apps can make money but that doesn’t mean they work for everyone’s business. But I do think there could be some usefulness there for ours, and that’s why I’m actively exploring the idea.

For me, the whole key is whether or not an app can enhance the customer experience. Some businesses just put out apps that have no real additional functionality beyond what a simple mobile site could. I just can’t imagine downloading those kinds of things. I want real value as a consumer, so I’m not going to release an app without being able to use it to add real value for our clients.

Our clients want us to keep them updated on what’s happening with their travels, and we do that well. But it might be advantageous for us to look at additional ways we can push information to them. If people are using their smart phones, then we should give them the option of using an app to get the information that we provide through alternative means today. That’s why I’m now looking at ways to make that happen. But I’m not rushing.

One of these days, we’ll find a good reason and a strong implementation that will help us put our app into the market. But for now, we’ll just keep working behind the scenes, not feeling the need to dive in just because others say we should.

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
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6 comments
Mark
Mark

There are many reasons for small businesses to have their own apps. For one, you can push notifications to your customers. For a restaurant, this can be "come in during the next two hours for a free margarita!" or something of the sort. Be creative!Another reason is to have loyalty programs... your app can have a GPS check-in function. Come to the business 5 times and get a free whatever.It also puts your business in their pocket, and keeps you in the front of their mind. A website is something they need to seek out everytime, and is less "personal."

Brett Snyder
Brett Snyder

Micah - I know that we've had someone talking to you via email about this, but simple difference is the personal service. Worldmate can tell you if a flight is delayed or canceled, but then how do you get it fixed (assuming it's not an easy fix that can be handled automatically)? We have a concierge following you the entire way and if something goes wrong, your concierge will be working on it often before you even know there's an issue. We only have airline dorks on staff, so these are people who can come up with every conceivable alternative, no matter how quirky.

Micah Child
Micah Child

I'm considering using your concierge service for an upcoming trip to NZ and SYD. My Favorite travel app is Worldmate (I've used in both my crackberry and iphone). What value added service could you provide with an app?

Ben Smith
Ben Smith

Not fully related -- but does anyone know of useful/interesting aviation apps (e.g. news, programes, etc.), in particular for Android? Thanks!

Nicholas Barnard
Nicholas Barnard

Brett, I'm with Tory. I honestly think any app you'd have would only provide value if its connected to the internet.Although there are also fancy things developers can do by using data: urls.. Taking guess at your clientele I'd guess they're biased toward Blackberries and iPhones with some Android folks.. Also you're probably looking at a whole lot more infrastructure than just writing an app.

Tory
Tory

If you write a browser-based app in HTML5 it'll work across all the mobile devices, no custom coding needed for each phone OS. They can even add an app icon on their screen for your mobile web page (and I think you can put it in the app store too, even though all it really is is a shortcut to open the browser to your mobile web page). If you open a browser on one of these phones and go to southwest.com you'll see what I mean. Pretty slick, and a lot less work than custom apps. Good luck.

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  1. [...] In the Trenches: Should There Be an App for That? – Intuit Small Business Blog I keep trying to figure out whether I need to create a Cranky Concierge app. I’m not going to just dive right in like others – I’m trying to figure out if I can make something truly useful. (And if anyone is a app developer for Android/iPhone/Blackberry, please let me know.) Delays/Cancellations, Government Regulation none [...]