Do consumers using mobile apps book hotel rooms differently than desktop users?
Data from Priceline suggest that iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users of its Priceline Hotel & Rental Car Negotiator app tend to book hotels within a day of arrival and often they are just miles from the hotel, suggesting they already arrived at the destination.
In September 2009, Priceline President and CEO Jeffery Boyd predicted that over time mobile offerings and consumer behavior will change so that some travelers will feel comfortable booking hotels "on the fly" with a mobile device once they arrive at a destination.
Priceline's statistics on its apps' usage appear to bear out that forecast.
In a recent two-week sampling of booking activity, Priceline found that:
- 82% of users of the Negotiator app booked hotel rooms within one day of arrival, compared with 45% of non-mobile bookers of Name Your Own Price hotel rooms.
- 58% of mobile device-enabled customers were 20 miles or closer to their hotels when they booked the room and 35% actually were within 1 mile of the property. "This suggests that those customers had already arrived at their destination before making their reservation," Priceline says.
- A higher percentage (79%) of mobile device-enabled users booked stays of one night only, compared with non-mobile (62%) customers (62%) who booked one-night stays using Priceline's hotel-bidding service.
- Mobile device-enabled users of the Negotiator app were apparently a bit more quality-conscious than their desktop counterparts as 82% of the mobile device-enabled users booked hotels that were 3-star or higher, compared with 75% of non-mobile users.
So, if Priceline's findings are representative of consumer behavior in other hotel-booking apps, then the data suggest that developers should put more emphasis on features for last-minute, in-destination bookers.
Priceline's statistics also tend to support the theory that mobile bookings and real-time availability should be an increasing focus for in-destination activity providers, as well.
Note: Priceline's data cover bookers using the Negotiator app and do not break out bookings through its mobile website.