Meet Vamoos, a MyThomson-style app that scales for small agencies
(Published in TTG – 18.08.14)
Appex Mobile’s white label solution can be used to store all your clients’ travel documents in one place. Matthew Parsons meets its developer
“There’s a content strategy roadmap as long as your arm,” says Tony Bean, director at Appex Mobile, while discussing future plans for Vamoos, a new travel document app.
The white-label app has been created for agents and operators to overbrand, and allows customers to keep their e-tickets, insurance, destination information, Atol certificate and more all in one place.
The idea was sparked after talks with Aito members and previous mobile work in the travel sector with VIP Ski. While similar apps do exist, such as the MyThomson app, Bean believes his is unique as it offers the simplest way for travel sellers, whatever their size, to help clients “feel safer”.
“Good agents and operators look after their customers,” he says. “And this is what Vamoos is all about. We can make people feel relaxed after booking. All the documents are there, and it makes the holiday more enjoyable, as you feel safer.”
As well as tapping into this “psychology of travel”, Bean says the app helps cut down on printing and will boost the rebooking factor.
A charge of £1 is made per passenger, and so far Bamboo Travel, Experience Travel, Fleewinter, Original Travel, Robert Broad Travel and In The Saddle have signed up – with more to follow shortly.
Easy to use
Once a holiday is booked, agents and operators upload all of the relevant documents, as PDFs, into the back end of the system (while most airline e-ticket barcodes can be scanned on a device, it’s still better to have a printout to hand). Vamoos also provides relevant mapping data highlighting the locations of hotels and adds weather updates.
It can take up to three minutes to populate the app, but an API is on the cards and part of the technology “roadmap”, where all documents can be automatically loaded with a single click.
Once they have downloaded the app from the App store for either iPhone or iPad, the customer taps in their booking reference and the documents are pulled in. An Android version is planned.
Bean says imagery is key in travel, so as well as the firm’s logo, a background image can be added to the app homescreen – a feature the trade “loves”, he adds.
Access for all
The decision for the tool to be developed as an app, rather than a mobile website, stems from research Bean says showing 85% of “mobile media minutes” are spent within an app.
The fact that all the documents can be accessed offline is also key: “It’s not that holidaymakers don’t want to spend money using their phone abroad [on roaming charges] – it’s just that they don’t know how much it will cost.”
Bean says charging the trade £1 per passenger (it’s free for the end-user) means he is helping to “democratise technology”: “I didn’t just want this to be for operators with deep pockets. I wanted it to be used by smaller companies, who might just send away five people per year.”
“I wanted to help agents and operators save money. I wanted to give them something useful – that’s my mantra”
His entry into the travel industry followed 10 years working in the mobile sector, with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BBC and Heineken. He is now focused on travel and set up the privately funded company Appex Mobile to start Vamoos, which launched in the middle of July after three months of testing.
“I wanted to help agents and operators save money,” he adds. “I wanted to give them something useful – that’s my mantra.”
As for the roadmap, there are many other innovative functions set to be added, following ongoing feedback from his customers – as well as an upcoming event that will see Vamoos showcased to any interested parties.
Bean adds: “We are developing it with the industry, for the industry.”