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Last Minute Travel Deals grabs 500K downloads in crowded market

The Last Minute Travel Deals mobile application has seen more than half a million downloads since its launch in spring 2014, proving that travel apps with booking functions across all transportation and accommodation channels have appeal in an already crowded space.

Last Minute Travel Deals offers users an inventory of more than 100,000 hotels worldwide that can be booked with several hours’ notice, in addition to other promotions for flights, vacation homes, car rentals, cruises and other leisure activities. On the heels of its milestone downloads announcement, the app has also introduced a new interface featuring one-click search from the home page, designed to make the booking process even more streamlined for on-the-go travelers.

“The user-friendly ‘Deals Tonight’ feature on the LMT Deals app homepage allows users to quickly search for the best rates on nearby hotels with available rooms that night,” said Omer Chehmer, head of mobile for Last Minute Travel, Israel. “Busy consumers like the fact that it’s a smooth process and they can find tons of hotel options at unbeatable prices.

“Consumers also like to consult the TripAdvisor reviews before booking a room.”

Rapidly emerging market
Last Minute Travel Deals’ success displays that travel and hospitality brands must provide a slew of options for consumers within one centrally located mobile app. Consumers can complete every step of their travel planning journey through the Last Minute Travel Deals app, from booking a hotel, a car rental and exploring potential activities once they have arrived at their destination.

If an app only offers one of these booking functionalities, it will result in a fractured experience for the consumer and will likely drive him or her into the arms of another competitor.

Last Minute Travel Deals was also able to grab the business of many holiday travelers as it rolled out a partnership with Wyndham Hotels ahead of Thanksgiving (see story). Users were able to book hotel rooms at Wyndham properties and its other brands, including Howard Johnson, Ramada and Days Inn, increasing the reach of the marketer and enticing its clientele to begin using the app.

Last Minute Travel Deals will also be integrating 3,000 Hilton Worldwide properties into its inventory.

As the booking app space becomes more crowded and more travel marketers such as introduce their mobile applications to consumers, Last Minute Travel Deals is aware of the need to adapt quickly to keep customers’ attention and business, promising more mobile features to be rolled out soon.

“A major facelift (new design to the travel industry) is in the oven,” Mr. Chehmer said.

Integrating with mobile technologies
Brands that are seeking to maintain a stronghold in the last-minute booking app space must be willing to evolve and integrate with mobile technologies such as Touch ID and Apple Pay (see story).

These technologies would allow consumers to check out simply by tapping a button on their smartphones, a feature that would certainly drive impulse purchases.

As wearables begin to take off in 2015, marketers should also consider creating compatible applications for products such as the Pebble smartwatch or Apple’s iWatch.

However, one of brands’ most important focuses should be on offering rewards or mobile loyalty programs to existing clients. Gaining new customers is important, but in the ever-growing and increasingly more crowded booking app sector, maintaining a fan base is just as important as building upon one.

“The cheapest user acquisition strategy is to retain existing customers,” Mr. Chehmer said. “Love your users and listen to them!”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York