Hotels.com: 50pc of mobile travelers book last-minute stays
Recent data from Hotels.com shows that 50 percent of travelers who book via mobile devices do so for last-minute or next-day stays, proving mobile’s potency for on-the-go users.
The 2014 Hotels.com Hotel Price Index also displayed that more than 25 percent of transactions now come from mobile devices, a statistic that hospitality and tourism marketers should keep in mind when developing digital strategies. With more brands rolling out additional Apple Watch applications for booking capabilities, the sector is well-poised to experience an even bigger influx of commerce this year.
“Mobile booking is extremely important to the continued growth and success of Hotels.com,” said Steven Quach, director of online marketing for Hotels.com, Dallas, TX. “The more than 80 percent spike in U.S. mobile users booking through Hotels.com signals an increasing need for consumers to conveniently book on-the-go.
“Other industries are also jumping on the bandwagon of enhancing their mobile capabilities, because they realize there are significant sales that can be generated through mobile, according to a 2014 Forrester report,” he said. “We have to find ways to adjust our products and/or services to meet their customer demand.
“At this time, the mobile trend is soaring and it’s in our best interest to further explore and offer services through this thriving landscape. We want our mobile experience to be the preferred experience across any screen, across any booking scenario.”
On the rise
Hotels.com’s data showcases the rising popularity of consumers using mobile devices to research and book hotel accommodations. Overall, there has been an 80 percent increase in mobile demand in the United States from 2013 to 2014.
“Alongside retail, travel is the industry that has been most upended by mobile,” said Jeff Hasen, founder of Gotta Mobilize, Seattle, WA. “It’s incredibly complex.
“In an interview for my upcoming The Art of Mobile Persuasion book, Expedia chief marketing officer David Doctorow told me that people typically search 48 times across sites before purchasing a flight,” he said. “And a person in the morning could have his or her business hat on and be willing to stay within a geographic area, but that same person could be wearing his or her family hat at night and be way more discriminating and seek out a particular hotel.
“As to last minute bookings, this certainly gives the ‘adventurous’ type better deals. Others will want the security in planning way ahead of time.”
Fifty percent of travelers are also tapping mobile to book their next-day or last-minute stays, proving that all major hotel brands should offer booking capabilities within their branded apps or mobile sites.
If those features are not feasible at this time, they would do well to team up with a third-party marketer such as Expedia or Booking.com to showcase their available properties.
Mobile users typically flocked to last-minute deals for Las Vegas, with Orlando, New York and Los Angeles taking the second, third and fourth spots, respectively.
Internationally, mobile-savvy consumers frequently booked trips to London, Cancun and Toronto.
Apple Watch effect
Hotels.com is joining the parade of hospitality brands rolling out Apple Watch apps. Fans of Hotels.com who are also owners of the wearable device can now use the app to search for nearby hotel deals, tap the GPS function to locate their chosen hotel and view upcoming reservations.
Meanwhile, Booking.com rolled out the first travel application with booking capabilities for the Apple Watch, enabling consumers to select and book hotel accommodations directly from their wrists while also supplementing the commerce potential of wearables for the travel and hospitality industry (see story).
Hotel marketers such as Marriott International and Starwood Hotels and Resorts are also introducing users to their Apple Watch apps, which seek to provide a more customized experience to guests and offer features including keyless room entry.
Leveraging an app for a wearable may be a smart tactic for a travel marketer if it will add personalization to the customer’s experience and help facilitate building long-lasting loyalty and relationships.
“We have to keep our fingers on pulse of the latest and greatest in technological advancements, and at this moment, the Apple Watch is the product that consumers are raving about,” Hotels.com’s Mr. Quach said. “It’s critical that we remain knowledgeable about emerging trends and also expand our reach on various mobile platforms to offer consumers innovative experiences.
“We believe in wearables and we were a fast mover with Android Wear integration, therefore imagine our excitement to see the volume of pre-order sales on Apple Watch. It’s reassuring to know we’ve made our bets in the right places.”
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York