Hotwire tackles last-minute deals with international mobile site
Hotwire is rolling out the site in Ireland and Britain after seeing success with a mobile site in the United States. The company claims that for the U.S. market, approximately 80 percent of mobile hotel bookings being made for same-day or day-before reservations, Hotwire decided to roll out a mobile site for the British and Ireland markets.
“With the launch of Hotwire.com’s mobile site in Britain and Ireland, we aim to reach consumers who prefer to book and research their holidays on the go. Our experience from the U.S. is that mobile is becoming increasingly popular,” said Fulvia Montresor, senior director at Hotwire.com, London.
In addition to the large number of mobile bookings made for last-minute bookings, Hotwire also claims that one in ten of all bookings are being made a mobile device in the U.S.
Although that number might seem small, the number of consumers researching and browsing on mobile is significantly higher than total transactions.
For example, research points to 13 percent of consumers research their travels on mobile. However, only three percent of consumers make a booking on mobile, per Hotwire.
Therefore, online travel agencies and companies are challenged to create strong mobile offerings to get users to convert.
International users can access the new Hotwire mobile site by typing http://www.hotwire.com/ into their mobile browsers.
Consumers can then use their device’s built-in GPS to find nearby hotels and car rentals. Alternatively, a city can be typed in via a search bar.
Results can be filtered down even more with an option to find a hotel room the same night, which is placed at the top of the page and shows the impact of same-day bookings on the online travel industry.
Other features on the mobile site include a click-to-call function, a help center and account log-in.
Overall, it is clear that the Hotwire site has been slimmed down to only the basics in order to bolster the number of mobile bookings. Although the site is basic, it is effective.
Mobile travel agencies
Recently, there has been a boom in online travel agencies rolling out mobile initiatives as an extension of a Web experience.
Although some of the experiences might give consumers simply a quick way to book, other companies are banking on mobile to give users an incentive — such as a tie in with a deals program — in order to get consumers to use a site or app.
For instance, Travelocity recently rolled out an iPad application that includes daily rewards as an incentive for users to book via their tablets (see story).
Hotwire UK is possibly eyeing an app in the future but first wanted a solid mobile Web presence.
“We believe mobile apps are important, but creating a successful mobile Web experience is critical before developing an app,” Ms. Montresor said.
“The mobile site will allow us to gain important insights on what is important to our customers,” she said. “With this information we will have the research we need to create a successful app for our most loyal customers.”
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York