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Choice Hotels exec: Mobile makes up 7pc of revenue

During “The Next Generation of Mobile Innovation: What’s Next For Brands and Consumers” session, executives from Choice Hotels and US Auto Parts spoke about trends that the companies are seeing with their mobile efforts. The presentation was moderated by Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis, Atlanta.

“As we evolve, it is not a question of what can you do, it is a question of what you should do,” said Chris Brya, director of mobile and emerging channels at Choice Hotels, Silver Spring, MD.

Mobile stay
Choice Hotels launched its mobile site in 2008 and also has apps for the iPhone and Android devices. The executive also said that the company will be launching an iPad app in the near future.

The company’s iPhone application has been downloaded 1.4 billion times.

One of the goals of the mobile efforts was to build the company’s loyalty program.

Companies need to be thinking beyond just how people are using their mobile devices. The next phase is looking at where consumers are using their devices, which turns into more specific features such as location.

Additionally, companies are beyond thinking about what types of content to port from a desktop site to a mobile site. Now it is time to think about how to take a company’s content on a mobile site and how they can make it better.

Mobile is also impacting how companies envision their desktop products. For example, some of the features included in Choice Hotels’ iPad app are being used to tie back into the company’s Web site.

Although data is a crucial part of a marketer’s strategy, the lack of a complete picture  makes it difficult for companies to know what is working and what is not.

Similarly, mobile payments and technology seems as if it would make sense for a hotel brand to let consumers pay for bookings quickly. However, getting individual hotels and everyone on board with the technology is the hard part.

To make booking easier, Choice Hotels looked at cutting down the process into a two-step process. Even though it seemed like a logical step, consumers did not respond well to it and wanted to use more information to book a room.

Once a consumer has honed in on three hotels, they focus on features such as photos and reviews.

Panelists at the Mobile Shopping Spring Summit

Gear into mobile?
In addition to consumers, mobile also has the possibility to impact how merchants envision their business, according to an executive from US Auto Parts.

“Our strategy was to build a mobile Web site and app and push loyal traffic to it,” said Anton Reut, vice president of product and mobile at US Auto Parts, Carson, CA.

“We wanted to stop using Google as our primary acquisition channel,” he said.

US Auto Parts claims to do 350 million in online sales and specializes in auto parts and accessories.

Over the past year, US Auto Parts has seen mobile traffic increase from five percent to 20 percent.

The company is rolling out the mobile site and app soon, which is aiming to be a destination where consumers can use their location to find the best quote for auto repairs near to them.

Many of the independently-owned auto repair shops have not yet adapted to the Web, making mobile overwhelming to shop owners.

“We think about mobile as a touchpoint — take a step away from the technology and understand how it will affect consumers,” Mr. Reut said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York