Travel and Lifestyle Apps Saw Record Low Customer Churn Rates in 2017

Last year, two out of five consumers who made a digital travel purchase did so on a mobile device, according to eMarketer. U.S. mobile travel sales totaled $75.85 billion in 2017, 16.7% higher than in 2016. The travel industry has been making large strides in the mobile space and an increasing amount of consumers are growing accustomed to booking and managing travel on their devices.

We also saw this upward trend play out in our Travel and Lifestyle App Benchmark Report for the second half of 2017. Users of these apps have traditionally shown exceptional app loyalty, and the second half of 2017 was no different.

3-Month churn at its lowest point in two years

Churn measures the percentage of people who do not return to an app one month, two months, and three months after downloading it, whereas retention measures the percentage of users who return to an app after the app is downloaded.

In the last six months of 2017, we found that Travel apps churned 70% of their users and retained 30% after three months. This is a noticeable increase/decrease on both fronts since the second half of 2016, when travel and lifestyle apps churned 75% of mobile users, and retained only 25%, after three months.

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Travel and lifestyle apps have relatively low churn partly due to their nature, e.g. purchasing airline tickets, booking hotels, and tracking steps– all actions that require repeat visits and strict brand differentiation.

Churn rates for the second half of 2017 were also much lower than rates we saw in 2015 (70% in 2017 versus 82% in Q4 2015).

  2015 Q4 2016 H1 2016 H2 2017 H1 2017 H2
Churn - Month +1 64% 65% 59% 57% 55%
Churn - Month +2 76% 75% 69% 67% 64%
Churn - Month +3 82% 79% 75% 72% 70%


Since 2015 one, two, and three-month churn has decreased by 9, 12, and 12 percentage points respectively. This is a great sign for travel and lifestyle apps, as lower churn numbers indicate that brands are doing a better job of understanding what their users want and delivering more personalized content, keeping them engaged and coming back for more. While the rates have lowered, 70% of users still churn after three months, indicating that users are still not as satisfied as they could be.

Examining launches, session lengths, and time in app reveals a slight decline in these metrics.

  2016 H1 2016 H2 2017 H1 2017 H2
Weekly App Launches 5.55 5.58 5.92 5.48
Weekly Session Length (minutes) 3.45 3.66 3.42 3.22
Weekly Time in App (minutes) 19.15 20.44 20.27 17.65


This should not be cause for alarm, since retention is improving at such a fast rate. It is likely that users are simply becoming more comfortable with the app and are able to accomplish what they need in less time and fewer sessions.

Push notification open and conversion rates steadily climbing

Travel and lifestyle apps are showing solid improvement in push notification performance. iOS push open rates increased from 2.67% in H2 2016 to 3.49% in the second half of 2017, while Android push open rates increased modestly from 7.3% to 7.33%. Additionally, Android push conversion rates increased from 0.39% in the first half of  2017 to 1.05% in the second half of the year. iOS overall push engagement (defined as the average number of sessions recipients of the message had within the first week of receiving the message) also jumped from 1.87 to 1.91.

In-app messages are also seeing better performance, with iOS conversion rates increasing dramatically from 1.4% to 5.35%, even though open rates dipped from 11% to 8.24%. Higher conversion is likely due to better in-app message targeting, engagement, and improved mobile payment methods.

On the other hand, Android and iOS push opt-in rates have been decreasing over time. We found that the average Android push opt-in rate had dropped from 80% in the first half of 2016 to 64% in the second half of 2017. iOS opt-in rates also saw a decrease from 49% to 40%.

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This is a realistic trend, since as time goes on users become more hesitant to accept push notifications from every app, and instead focus on the apps that send valuable, personalized messages.  

Forecasts claim that by 2021 mobile will account for nearly 50% of all digital travel sales (approximately $100 billion), so there is enormous potential for travel and lifestyle brands to forge meaningful connections with their particularly loyal users. Keeping your app top of mind, achieving better conversion, and facilitating even higher retention can be accomplished by implementing some of the strategies mentioned in our Travel app mobile marketing playbook.

For now, feel free to check out the full benchmark report.

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