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Hotwire caters to last-minute bookings with iPad app

The app is part of the company’s ongoing strategy to expand its mobile repertoire and reach consumers on a variety of devices. The app is available for free download in Apple’s App Store.

“The online travel space is experiencing tremendous mobile growth, and much of it is being fueled by tablet-specific users,” said Pierre-Etienne Chartier, vice president at Hotwire. “In fact, Hotwire’s tablet hotel transactions are not only increasing significantly, they’re starting to overtake smartphones.

“We also know that mobile users mostly book last-minute deals,” he said. “Hotwire launched its iPad app to better serve the specific needs of this expanding customer base.

Taking what we learned about the mobile booker from our iPhone launch, we enhanced features across the board with this app, with a big focus on speed and ease of use. Now users can log-in with pre-stored data, and sorting and refining on the app is instantaneous. Our map tool is also more insightful than ever. The good news for iPhone and iPod touch users is that we’ll also be refreshing that app with the same new and improved experience.”

Mobile bookings
Through the app, consumers are able to search for hotels based on their current location or a specific address.

The app then reveals an interactive map that lets the consumer pick the area they would like to stay in.

Within seconds, a list of hotel deals pops up, and consumers can browse reviews, as well as an overview of amenities, such as Wi-Fi and parking.

Additionally, the app features more than 125,000 hotels throughout 3,145 cities and across 61 countries.

Consumers who have a Hotwire account can browse stored information, such as past and future trips, for a more seamless booking experience.

Our mobile customers needed an even more streamlined interface because their usage is much narrower, so we greatly simplified the app,” Mr. Chartier said. “That may sound easy, but in reality, we achieved it by developing really intelligent technology.

“Even in the best of economies, average hotel occupancy is only around 65 percent, so there’s plenty of unsold inventory available on Hotwire for just about any booking window,” he said. “But as you move closer to the day-of travel, the discount levels increase. 

“As a business, Hotwire specializes in delivering unsold inventory at savings of up to 60 percent, so there’s a natural sweet spot with last-minute bookings overall.”

Mobile travels
The travel industry has changed a lot over the years, thanks in part to mobile.

Moreover, marketers are incorporating the medium into their strategies to drive last-minute bookings and connect with consumers on a device that is most personal to them.

According to Hotwire, nearly 25 percent of its hotel transactions occur on a mobile device, with 75 percent of those purchases being for same-day bookings.

Last year, the company rolled out its iPhone app to reach its ever-growing tech-savvy consumer base (see story).

In addition, Hotwire also has a mobile-optimized site.

Growing popularity
Because the tablet market is becoming more mature, the company decided to launch an app to further expand on its mobile presence.

Mobile bookings are becoming increasingly popular, with tablet bookings accounting for almost half of all mobile purchases, per Hotwire.

“Since the launch of our mobile site a few years ago, we’ve experienced strong growth in mobile device usage, and the vast majority of these bookings were for last-minute hotels,” Mr. Chartier said.

“In fact, nearly 75 percent of our mobile bookings are for same-day travel,” he said. “It was clear to us that our customers had a keen interest in an app that provided a quick and easy way to book a room, so that’s why we focused on offering this product first.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York