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Expedia moves towards comprehensive mobile booking via app revamp

Expedia has added flight bookings to its mobile application to make it easier for users to manage their travel itineraries.

With approximately ten percent of Expedia’s consumers connecting with the company on mobile, Expedia has broadened the scope of its app, which previously only included bookings for hotel rooms. The updated app is available for iPhone and Android devices.

“Our first Expedia app was a vertical app that focused on hotel bookings,” said Ben Kazez, senior director of mobile products at Expedia, Bellevue, WA.

“As travelers became more and more comfortable booking via mobile, adding flights is the natural next step,” he said. “Rather than taking an experience from desktop, we rethought the experience for mobile with beautiful destination photos, visual flight search and instant check-out.”

Book on mobile
Now when consumers open the Expedia app, they are given two options to either book a hotel room or flight. Photos of popular locations scroll below both options and let users tap to directly make a reservation.

Expedia has updated its app to include more than 200 airlines to browse, filter and book flights with.

Search results can be filtered by duration, price or time.

Expedia also claims that nearly 140,000 hotels properties are included in the app.

Also on the homepage of the app, red banners with a photo of a phone indicate mobile-only deals. Per Expedia, these rooms are discounted up to 60 percent off of the original price. Consumers can also view the mobile deals in search results.

Photos of the hotels now are now prominently displayed to give users a sneak peek at amenities and hotel rooms.

Hotels can be sorted by categories including price, popularity, ratings or location.

Expedia claims that its app has racked up five million downloads in 220 different countries and territories.

“The shift in traffic we are seeing toward phones and tablets is staggering,” Mr. Kazez said.

“Many people predict that 50 percent of online activity will be on mobile devices by 2014 and we definitely anticipate that kind of shift for Expedia,” he said.

Users can browse through photos

Mobile travelers
In addition to the new app features, Expedia Media Solutions — the advertising arm to Expedia — commissioned a study with comScore to look at how consumers research and book travel plans on their mobile devices.

Forty-eight percent of consumers surveyed in the study said that they have used a smartphone or tablet to book a trip.

When it comes to the types of content that mobile users are looking for, 64 percent of consumers said that deals and promotions were helpful. Fifty-five percent picked photos, and 38 percent of consumers said that recommendations were the most needed features.

Per the study’s findings, mobile apps are a particularly strong medium for travelers. Sixty percent of mobile airline travelers and 56 percent of hotel bookers used an app to book their plans.

“The Web in the ‘90s created a shift where people could make their own travel choices and book their own trips, in their homes and offices,” Mr. Kazez said.

“Mobile is creating a shift where suddenly that power is with you everywhere you are,” he said. “We’re also moving from a world where people book trips far in advance to a world where people are increasingly booking trips at the last minute or even during the trip. It’s breaking down traditional barriers of travel planning and execution.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York