If Priceline were writing a winter survival guide, it assuredly would advise you to pack your gloves, snow boots and mobile devices.
Beginning Oct. 29, when a record-shattering October snowstorm hit New Jersey, New York and Connecticut in the U.S., Priceline saw a 270% spike in hotel bookings on its mobile apps as residents saw falling power lines transport them into the dark ages.
With the lights out, the percentage of people using desktop computers to secure alternative accommodations in hotels rose a relatively paltry 38% in those three states, Priceline says.
And booking patterns drifted wildly as the early snowfall as prolonged power outages in the three states ran their protracted course.
Priceline found that immediately after the onset of the widespread power outages, when people expected them to be a short duration, mobile customers largely booked three- and four-star hotels and more than 99% were for same-day check-ins.
However, starting Sunday, Oct. 20, when news reports emerged disclosing that the power outages might take a week to resolve, mobile users then moved down to 2.5 star properties and below, and they booked rooms for multiple days, Priceline says.
Occupancy rates really swayed mobile booking patterns, Priceline says.
On the day of the storm, mobile bookers selected hotels at a median distance of five miles away, but the median distance became 69 miles away by Oct. 31 and a few days thereafter as local hotels became booked solid, Priceline says.
With occupancy rates like that, even the Priceline Negotiator would be hard-pressed to help.
Priceline offers Hotel Negotiator apps for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android devices.