Hotels.com looks to Windows Phone 7 to expand mobile bookings

Expedia-owned online travel company Hotels.com has launched a mobile booking app for Windows Phone 7 devices.

According to Hotels.com, the company sees approximately 60 percent of mobile bookings being made for same-day reservations, making the app a necessary step to reach as many users as possible. The app is available for free download from the Windows Phone Marketplace.

“We want to be here as first movers in the space and reach all potential consumers – with these two elements combined, we decided to launch a Windows Phone 7 app,” said Christelle Chan, London-based marketing director at Hotels.com.

“We are seeing a shift in consumer behavior towards more last-minute bookings,” she said.

Same-day bookings
Hotels.com originally began as a call center-based company that got into digital with the Internet boom. Now as mobile is playing an increased role in bookings, the company is looking to focus more on developing its mobile strategy and products.

For example, the Windows Phone 7 app’s new “Tonight’s great deal” feature lets users find more than 20,000 same-day offers.

With a device’s GPS, the app can find hotels that are nearest with a map function.

Users can book their travels either as a guest or with a Hotels.com account. The app lets Hotels.com users store all of their membership information and history into one place.

The app also includes a click-to-call feature that lets users call a company representative, which is a smart option to include for users who might not be comfortable booking via their handset.

Stay on mobile
In addition to the Windows Phone 7 app, Hotels.com also has apps for iPad, iPhone, Android, Symbian and Meego devices.

Mobile bookings have been a hot area lately with a slew of news around online travel companies launching new mobile initiatives that focus on same-day bookings.

Not only are apps driving digital sales, some companies have structured business plans around mobile bookings.

For example, mobile-only company HotelTonight recently optimized its app for iPad devices to take advantage of the lean-back tablet experience (see story).

For hotel-specific brands, the large emphasis on same-day bookings shows how consumers are booking their travels while on the go. Busy travelers assume that they will be able to easily find a hotel after they have already arrived in a city.

Last year, Hotels.com saw 10 percent of overall transactions being made via mobile and expects the percentage to increase in 2012.

“Mobile is here to stay, and we think it will continue to grow significantly this year based on what we have already seen,” Ms. Chan said.

“We are seeing a shift towards mobile quite significantly that we have not seen on any other platform before,” she said.

“The way we view mobile is more than just a marketing channel, and everything we do now has a mobile angle.”

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