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Hotwire accommodates evolving travel behaviors with post-midnight mobile booking

Hotwire is onboarding several new features into its mobile application to better suit consumers’ needs after identifying some of their typical travel habits, enabling users to book hotel rooms after midnight, choose a bed type when making reservations and secure one-way car rentals.

Hotwire is tweaking its mobile booking platform ahead of the popular summer travel season, showcasing the importance of online travel agencies making continuous updates to their apps in a bid to enhance customers’ transactional experiences. Individuals using Hotwire’s iOS and Android apps will be able to take advantage of a new home screen, as well as features that make room for more personalized options during the booking process.

“We know that many people who book on Hotwire take trips with family and friends,” said Carrie Peters, communications director and senior travel editor at Hotwire. “Being able to offer multiple parties that might be traveling together the option to choose what type of bed they want during their trip is a big plus.

“When I travel with my family, I’m not a huge fan of sleeping in the same bed as my children.”

Revamping booking experiences
Hotwire, which seeks to encourage spontaneous travel plans, is enabling app users to find and book vacations in a three-click process. Trips can be booked in under a minute, underscoring the need for travel marketers to optimize their transactional experiences in a way that promotes speediness.

One of Hotwire’s new features lets individuals book hotel rooms after midnight, a capability that may be useful for someone who forgot to make a reservation or has had travel plans change unexpectedly.

Consumers can also book car rentals for one-way trips, which may be ideal for someone moving to a new home, taking a cross-country vacation or making other travel accommodations after having an airline flight cancelled or delayed.

Additionally, Hotwire customers will be able to use the bed-type selection feature when making mobile bookings. Individuals with specific bed preferences will be able to indicate them before purchasing a hotel stay, giving them more security in knowing they will be comfortable once they arrive at the chosen property.

These new app features are geared toward spontaneous travelers just as much as long-term planners, proving that hospitality brands must offer more personalization choices even within their rapid-booking options.

Evolving travel patterns
Hotwire has been monitoring consumers’ changing travel habits and preferences, making sure to keep them top-of-mind when redesigning its app.

Nearly 50 percent of the company’s hotel transactions now come from smartphones, while more than one-third of its mobile app transactions are same-day bookings.

“We’ve definitely found that people are being more spontaneous with their trips and how they’re booking travel,” Ms. Peters said. “For our mobile app, over 40 percent of our transactions are ‘in-destination,’ meaning travelers are waiting until they arrive to book their car or hotel room.

“We’ve also found that about three quarters of our bookings take place within two days of departure. Being able to offer post-midnight booking is another important feature for the Hotwire traveler.”

Mobile booking is continuing its seemingly unstoppable rise, as evidenced by smartphone-enabled travel and transportation purchases making up 29 percent of United States sales in 2016’s first quarter and a prediction that bookings will surge even higher this summer, per a recent report from Criteo (see story).

Hotel brands are also ramping up to compete with OTAs by incorporating the latest mobile technologies into their proprietary booking platforms.

For example, Hilton Worldwide boosted the appeal of in-app booking by enabling users to see a hotel’s surroundings and a room’s potential view through a new integration with Google Maps (see story).

“As booking trends change, we want to be flexible and adapt to best meet the needs of our Hotwire travelers,” Ms. Peters said.