So, you've decided to take the plunge and create your very own travel app. Great!
That's an excellent decision- we've talked before here about why your travel company needs to go mobile first if you want to keep your customers onside.
But now you're faced with the next dilemma: do you outsource or create it in-house? Let’s take a look at the questions you should ask yourself...
Which Will Cost You More?
Okay, let's begin by taking a look at the most pressing consideration for most organisations.... cost.
On the face of it, getting a third party involved sounds expensive.
Whenever you outsource anything, you’re going to have to pay for this external resource, so your natural instincts might well be “let’s do this in-house”. Of course, this assumes that you have the time, expertise, experience, bandwidth and technical capability (and we’ll discuss this below).
But the thing is, handling this in-house can end up being more expensive in the long run. You have to pay for licenses and certificates for the code, software and tools you need to run the app – things a vendor normally handles for you - as well as the cost of hiring in mobile expertise.
Which Will Get the Project Finished Faster?
Or, put another way, it’s a trade-off between learning on the go but keeping all that knowledge in-house, or prioritising speed to market with an experienced mobile partner who has done this before, successfully, for other airlines and travel companies.
Let me put it this way. If this is their main line of business, they will have the knowledge and systems in place to turn around a sophisticated airline / travel app fast, whereas if you're coming to this new, you have to learn it all from scratch.
In fact, if this is your first app project, your team will be facing a steep learning curve on all fronts. And when we say ‘steep’, we’re talking Himalayan steep.
If you outsource to (technical and industry specific) specialists they will have pre-existing products that they can talk you through to help you get a clearer idea of what you want and which successful features you need to have in place at launch for a successful travel app, and what needs to come in subsequent releases. They’ll have handled GDS integrations and will be able to leverage their previous experience and expertise to take you to beta testing and launch stage faster. And they have a clear idea of what works, what end travellers really want from an app, and what problems you’re likely to encounter along the way. Do you really want to learn from your own mistakes when you could learn from someone else’s - without paying the same the costs?
This means a mobile partner can turn your app project around fast, with fewer hiccups. Remember that you're not just paying for the app itself, you're paying for years of expertise too... and that can seriously reduce the overall risks associated with the project.
Uncertainty, Risk and Control
Doing it yourself could throw up all kinds of unexpected issues, dragging on the project length and ballooning the budget. It's worth factoring in the opportunity costs involved in dedicating your developers' time to a potentially massive project over the cost of working with a mobile partner.
Be wary of biting off more than you can chew. If building an app is unchartered waters for you, you could find yourself drowning in unknown unknowns. There are so many variables at play.
On the other hand, If you take responsibility for doing everything yourself, all the IP and copyright are unquestionably yours, and you can reuse it as you see fit.
That said, you're also 100% liable if anything goes wrong.
That means that if there are any leaks, data protection issues or other mishaps, you are legally responsible. This is actually a major benefit of working with an external partner: they will share responsibility for shouldering data protection concerns. While that does, of course, mean you need to work with someone you really trust, it also means that they are legally and financially obliged to help you fixing any problems that arise
Future-Proofing Your Product
What's more, if you're getting in-house developers to handle this, do you have a clear plan for how you'll retain that knowledge in-house? In other words, are you totally dependent on certain members of staff to make changes and to take ownership of the project going forward?
If your star developers leave your company in the future you could be in an even worse position than you would have been if you'd simply outsourced to another company.
Which is Best for You?
Ultimately, it comes down to the specific needs, ambitions and technological capacity of your business.
If building apps isn’t your specialism, do you have a really good reason to bring the project in house?
The complications don’t finish when you sign off on the finished product either, for you’ve only really reached basecamp 1 (to keep the Himalayan analogy going!). You see it’s really important to keep your app regularly updated with new features so that it’s always relevant to a market that have demanding and evolving needs. What drives downloads and usage now can shift over time and you need to keep on top of this.
If you want to keep the pace up on the rapidly changing mobile travel tech space, partnering with a specialist will undoubtedly bring your innovative plans to market quicker, generating faster results and enabling you to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves...by concentrating on what you do best.
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