Apple picks Hopper as one of 2015’s best apps
Hopper’s app ranked seventh on the list, up there with apps from HBO Now and Instagram. The app debuted at the start of the year.
We spoke by phone with CEO Frederic Lalonde about the news.
How does it feel?
It’s kind of surprising that we’re the only travel one this year….
The app has been downloaded 1.5 million times. Consumers have set up price-tracking requests on more than 2 million trips.
If you had asked me in January what I was forecasting for the year, I wouldn’t have come close to those numbers….
This news that we’re one of Apple’s best apps is the cherry on the top of a great year…. We poured our heart and soul into this….
How did you crack the code? Apple has very high design and service standards.
It’s the data. There’s no doubt, it’s the data, which is our core value.
The UI is good, and we took a very different approach to the UX. A lot people were loading up their apps, and we went the opposite route, aiming for simplicity, ease of use.
But the real wow factor for Hopper is our ability to accurately forecast ticket prices.
As you know, others have tried to do prediction. But we’re accurate 95% of the time, within $5, in most markets. Our app has saved users a total of $30 million on airfare by pointing users to cheaper flights.
What is being done to bring more of Hopper’s research into the app?
In the first quarter of 2016, we will be introducing a lot of features to help shoppers with guidance, research, and discovery that’s data-backed but easy to consume…
Last September, when we introduced the Quick Tabs booking to the iOS app, we essentially became a mobile OTA. You can now book a flight in one swipe and a few taps.
In early next year, for our Android app, we’ll ship similar booking functionality.
What’s next for Hopper’s apps?
We’re finally getting some bandwidth around the research and discovery section.
We’ll be releasing a lot of things around notifying users of features they haven’t accessed on the app before.
For example, you may be searching for trips to a certain airport. Hopper may know that hundreds of people have looked at that itinerary before and can recommend secondary airports as alternatives based on how other travelers have shopped.
What’s been done to expand the flexibility of the kinds of trips that can be shopped for?
This week, we launched predictions for one-way tickets. That sounds like a footnote that shouldn’t be mentioned. But it’s significant because we’re accurately forecasting one-way. This opens up new ways to plan trips.
We’re making it easier to compare an open jaw ticket and estimate savings….
Let’s say you’re going Boston to London to Paris and back. Maybe you want to compare flying roundtrip between the two European cities versus taking the Eurostar train one-way and a flight back….
We’re adding nonstop forecasts, too. We’re adding more interline. This will massively expand the universe of what’s covered, making sure you can get a more custom itinerary for your trip. We’ll help you find the optimal travel times along with interesting outcomes in savings….
How do you source your flights inventory?
Today it’s through third-parties. But next year we’re launching some interesting programs that will be around private inventory. There’s quite a few airlines participating directly in that. I’m obfuscating there because it’s too early to talk about.
Back to Apple, is there anything about its operating system improvements that has helped Hopper?
We’re planning to innovate further on push notifications, and every time they improve how push notifications are displayed to users, it helps us.
We send hundreds of thousands of push notifications each day. We’re bigger into the use of mobile communications with customers than a lot of the big brands are out there.
What’s on your wish list?
Quite honestly we want to build apps for Apple iPad and Apple Watch. It’s just about prioritization. Hopper launched an app for Android devices in September, which is an ecosystem we care about, too.
Disclosure: Hopper CEO Fred Lalonde is also chairman of Tnooz.
Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.