It's a mobile world and we're all just going along for the fast-paced ride -
As our lives become increasingly hectic, however, it's our mobile devices that come to the rescue - both at home and when we're traveling - and hotels, airlines and travel companies have taken notice.
It's not just about having a working mobile site anymore with a booking engine and hotel information. Today's mobile traveler wants immediate information, deals and discounts that are specific to where they are, where they're going and that will keep them coming back.
Last month, Expedia released the results of a study showcasing how American travelers in the United States used their mobile devices and mobile applications during summer travel.
Among the findings:
- More than half of online adults (61%) own and use a smartphone, e-reader device or tablet device.
- Vacationers are active social sharers via Facebook first. Fifty-four percent of online U.S. adults who took photos on their most recent vacation report sharing pictures on Facebook during their trip and 55% percent report sharing pictures after their most recent vacations.
- Mobile helps travelers get a room. Close to 70% of users booking rooms through the Expedia Hotels mobile app or Expedia's mobile optimized site are looking for travel within a 24-hour period.
- The afternoon and weekends are hot times for mobile booking. Thirty-seven percent of flights and hotels are booked in the afternoon hours between 12:00 PM and 6:00 PM via mobile. Friday and Saturday are the most popular days to book via mobile.
As more travelers take to their mobile devices to make travel plans, restaurant reservations, search for hotels and find their whereabouts in new places, it's increasingly more important for businesses to cater to the mobile world.
But it's not enough to just have a mobile site. In an effort to compete for last-minute reservations and remain top-of-mind to busy mobile travelers, hotels need to offer up special options, preferences and deals specific to mobile applications.
To follow its release of the study, Expedia also announced its Expedia® Hotels mobile app now allows people to access Mobile Exclusive deals. The app is specifically targeted to those traveling within 24 hours, and offers 10-30 percent off hotel rates that you would find from a traditional desktop search. The deals are only available through the Expedia Hotels app and include deals at more than 2,000 hotels in the United States, Canada and Europe.
I took the app for a quick test drive the other day and found it really did what it promised - lower rates than what is online. For example, in Boston I found three city-centric hotels available for the same day, at 10 percent less than the price that was listed online. The app allowed me to choose my room, enter the amount of guests and add any special preferences, and saved me about $30, simply by booking on my mobile phone.
These mobile-specific discounts aren't new. Expedia's competitor Priceline debuted its "Tonight Only" app last year, which gives users as much as 35 percent off same-day hotels.
"Mobile devices have continued to become an essential part of travel, whether traveling for business or leisure," said Joe Megibow, Vice President and General Manager, Expedia.com. "With more travel options than anyone else, and now with exclusive deals just for mobile users, Expedia is making sure that no matter where you are, you can find the right deal for you." Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world.
Melanie writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com