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How mobile apps saved my winter vacation

drhaller ‎02-20-2014 01:05 PM - edited ‎06-09-2015 02:12 PM

It is amazing how “hooked on apps” you can become once your well-planned vacation plans come grinding to a halt because of good old Mother Nature.


The recent snowstorms in the Eastern US prompted me to write up a recent vacation experience where mobile apps played a big part in stress reduction.




Staying calm before the storm

My family experienced the impact of what some people were calling an “epic ice storm” that descended on the Greater Toronto Area the day before our family vacation odyssey to Walt Disney World. We became totally anchored to our smartphones and tablets, relying on mobile apps to navigate the storm’s effects.


The evening before our mid-afternoon flight — with freezing rain on the way — we decided to book a stay at a hotel close to the airport. That evening, mobile apps were helpful in two ways:

  • Confirmed the hotel address for our shuttle driver (there were two airport hotels of the chain we chose) and in the packing rush I forgot which one I had booked. I used the TripIt app for this
  • We anxiously checked the Weather Underground app for updates and to track the storm

Iced in

On the day of our scheduled flight, we were up early. The hotel was coated in nearly an inch of ice and everything you looked at was covered with a layer of the shiny stuff. In retrospect, I’m glad we fully charged our mobile devices overnight as they would soon became very handy:

  • At the airport, we tracked our incoming flight on the FlightAware app
  • A half-hour before our flight was to board, we received a flight cancellation notification from the United Airlines app. We also received an SMS notification
  • We then quickly received e-mail about automatic next-day flight rebooking. (Did I mention how nice it is to have frequent flyer status?)
  • We used the My Disney Experience app for looking up phone numbers and changing our resort reservations and shuttle pickup times
  • Instead of trying to find our receipt for the hotel where we stayed the previous night, I pulled the hotel’s phone number from the TripIt app to tell them we were on our way back for a second night’s stay

Fun in the sun

We were lucky to have an uneventful travel experience on the day we eventually flew to Florida. Suffice to say that we used the same mobile apps again to track flights and connection details.


During our vacation, we also relied on the very cool My Disney Experience app to:

  • View Walt Disney World park maps
  • Make FastPass reservations and view attraction wait times
  • View existing (and make new) dining plans


This very convenient application made it easy to plan our days of entertainment. The application even warns you that you better “get moving” towards your dining venue if you were geo-located a bit far away. Walt Disney World provides cost-free WiFi for guests.


Hooked for life

I am so grateful for smart mobile devices and easy-to-use applications. A few years ago, the stress from these types of travel delays would have had a much greater impact on our ability to enjoy our vacation.


But there is an important lesson here — once you get hooked on apps, there is no going back.


I learned quickly to rely on mobile apps, and when I did have a few app failures — timeouts, long delays plus a few errors — I was reminded at how frustrating it can be for end users to receive a poor mobile app user experience.


My advice to all the mobile app providers out there is this: treat your applications like VIPs because your users will get hooked on what they offer!


The best way to ensure you create a flawless user experience is to create a mobile app monitoring strategy and deploy HP Mobile Application Monitoring to monitor your mobile applications.


Here are two great resources to get started:

Do you have experience with travel applications that have saved your vacation? I would love to hear them! Feel free to reach out to me in the comments section below.


About the Author


Dan is a subject matter expert for BSM now working in a Technical Product Marketing role. Dan began his career in R&D as a devloper, and team manger. He most recently came from the team that created and delivered engaging technical training to HP pre-sales and Partners on BSM products/solutions. Dan is the co-inventor of 6 patents.

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