Q+A with our Mobile Strategist

Raheem Abid joined StudentUniverse as our Mobile Strategist last month. We sat down with him to talk about how students use apps, how to keep app users engaged and what plans he has for the StudentUniverse app, here is what he had to say:

What intrigued you about working on StudentUniverse’s app and what are the first things you want to tackle in this new role?

I’ve always been interested in the travel space. I’ve been to fourteen countries and lived in three, so being involved with a company that uses travel to enhance students’ educational experiences was a great opportunity. Mobile is the future of travel and StudentUniverse, because of our customer base, will be at the forefront of mobile innovation. I want to spend the first couple of months making sure we’re planning on providing features with real value for our users – not just features for the sake of it. We have such a talented development team that they can build in new features at lightning speed, so it’s worth spending the bulk of my time ensuring the features that do make it to development will actually put a smile on our users’ faces!

How do the ways students use mobile apps differ from others in general, and specifically when it comes to booking travel?

We’re increasingly seeing a “mobile first” attitude with students now. Many college students would prefer not to open up a laptop and visit a dot com to make a booking. If a group of friends are talking about a trip at a restaurant, they’d rather whip out their phone and in a few taps see the list of options that StudentUniverse has to offer rather than having to wait till they go home and fire up the laptop. And travel, due to its nature, is on the go, so why wouldn’t the booking phase of it be on the go as well? There is a tremendous opportunity to make use of how engaged students are on mobile to create lasting and meaningful relationships with them.

How do brands keep users engaged with their app? What kinds of features do apps need to have to keep users interested?

Engagement doesn’t mean sell something! I HATE, and I mean HATE it when companies think that every point of contact with their customers has to directly benefit the bottom line. Think longer term. Brands that are able to provide useful information, tools, and assistance without trying to sell something will create a much stronger bond with their users – and this is especially important with mobile. Apps are very closely associated with the word “free” in students’ minds, so seeing dollar figures is a huge turn off. Rather, it’s useful to show them value and entice them through that to make the purchase decision on their own. Features built around this philosophy will be key to keeping students on board.

Interested in chatting more with Raheem? You can reach him at raheem.abid@studentuniverse.com.