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Wyndham Worldwide exec: Build mobile around a use case

SAN DIEGO – A Wyndham Worldwide executive at the Mobile Shopping Spring Summit said that instead of crafting mobile marketing around novelty, brands should think about creating an initiative that is based on how consumers are using their devices.

During the “Constructing A Mobile Platform For Brands While Containing Spend And Maximizing Reach” session, the executive gave a overview of how Wyndham Worldwide has recently made mobile a priority in the past year. The executive also discussed best practices for marketers looking to roll out mobile campaigns.

“We learned that mobile is not a PC with a smaller screen — it requires a different user experience,” said Keith Swiderski, director of online customer experience at Wyndham Worldwide, Parsippany, NJ.

“Mobile consumers wanted the same info on the PC site, but did not want it all at the same time,” he said.

Mobile timeline
Wyndham Worldwide claims to be the largest hotel company with 7,200 hotels and 15 brands worldwide.

In 2008, Wyndham Worldwide rolled out mobile sites, but they did not give the best user experience. The mobile sites included basic features such as booking with content that looked like it was copied and pasted from the Web.

A mobile strategy was put on the back burner until 2011 because the company first wanted to focus on its Web sites.

The company was then challenged with rolling out 13 mobile sites by the end of the first quarter in 2012. The sites were rolled out at the end of March.

The company’s goal was to drive as many bookings as possible via mobile.

Hotel brands have multiple competitors that include online travel agencies, tour operators and flash sites.

Part of getting into mobile for an industry such as online travel is learning what competitors are doing and how consumers are using their devices to interact with a hotel.

Based on research that found 60 percent of mobile bookings are made for same-day reservations, the company decided to make bookings as simple as possible.

“It is not that common in the Web industry where one use case is 60 percent,” Mr. Swiderski said.

“We had a eureka moment to build for the use case,” he said.

Although the company has prioritized mobile sites, it has also rolled out mobile applications for some of its bigger brands. Currently, the company has four apps available for download for Android and iOS devices.

Mr. Swiderski at the the Mobile Shopping Spring Summit

Pick your feature?
When consumers visit one of Wyndham Worldwide’s mobile sites, they are first asked if it is OK to use their location to find the nearest hotel. The mobile site will use a consumer’s location within ten miles. Anything outside of ten miles is seen as irrelevant, pointing to the need for hyperlocal mobile results.

Additionally, the express booking feature is meant to help consumers book a hotel by placing a hold on a reservation with only their phone number and email address. Consumers then finish booking the hotel by paying when they arrive at the hotel.

Wyndam Worldwide also decided to include TripAdvisor ratings in its mobile services to give users a quick look at a specific hotel.

Currently, the company is looking at how it can use push notifications to communicate with consumers when they are in the hotel, which in turn could be used to increase programs such as a brand’s loyalty program.

However, just getting a basic conversion out of mobile should not be the only sign of success.

“If conversion is not good, then think what metics there are to get a continuos budget to make it better,” Mr. Swiderski said.

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