1Trends Assessment: Mobile Booking and Its Impact Mallory Schmidt, Gina Schammel and Jill Smith October 3, 2012
2Historical Overview of Mobile Bookings Spending hours searching through print ads in the newspaper or waiting to see the besttravel agent in town has increasingly become a thing of the past. Travel agencies were once themost reliable sources because they were just about the only people who had easy access toavailable prices, flight times and more, so that customers could compare and get the best deals.Although some people still utilize the services of travel agencies, mobile bookings are takingover for several reasons. The most obvious motives are because mobile bookings are quicker andeasier than most other methods offered. According to the International TelecommunicationUnion, “At the end of 2011 there were 6 billion mobile subscriptions, which is nearly 87 percentof the world population” (Favell p.3). This statistic proves that people are becoming increasinglytechnologically advanced and are beginning to favor and apply that technology. This wave ofpeople using their mobile devices for anything and everything has reached the business worldand it has greatly impacted the way organizations reflect and create. Since the demand of thecustomer is to have everything at the click of a button, businesses have been applying customerwants and have changed the way they promote themselves. What once was through print adsnow is through mobile devices. That being said, in order to attract customers and get them to stayat a hotel or book a flight for a certain airline, businesses need to create an app that is userfriendly, easy to understand, and quick to use. With customers growing expectations, it’s crucialfor businesses to keep current with the times or they will easily be forgotten about. Some havespent thousands and even millions of dollars trying to come up with a successful app. Many havebeen unsuccessful and according to Danielle Belopotosky, a publisher for the New York Times,“airlines, rental car agencies, and hotels offer mobile versions of their websites, but they can beslow and clunky” (p. 5). The businesses that make best use their customer’s time are the oneswho are most prosperous but there are several that have a long way to go in the re-vampingprocess. Since the emergence of smart phones there have been several improvements of appsespecially in the hospitality industry. Businesses need to keep striving to make their existingproducts and services better or they will not be able to withstand other competitors.Mobile Bookings Impacting the Business World Mobile bookings are the upcoming trend, whether it be booking hotel rooms, airlineflights, or even movie tickets at a local theatre it will become the preferred method for planningactivities or destinations. Cell phones are increasingly becoming a necessity, especially for ourgeneration. We rely solely on technology; it’s getting to the point where we get frustratedstanding in line and filling out any sort of paper work by hand, which is why mobile bookingswill be so crucial in the near future. With mobile booking accomplish all of our tasks through ourcellular phones and will not have any lines to wait in, which will ultimately save much time andfrustration for many people. The article, “Priceline’s Booking.com Targets Last-MinuteTravelers with Mobile App” by Lauren Johnson, talks about how Priceline’s Booking.com hasrecently started an application for customers to book through their cellular devices. In the article,Johnson stated that with Booking.com there are three main steps to mobile booking for hotelrooms. First the customer is asked to fill out their contact information, then they give their creditcard information, and lastly confirm that they have the correct room. Then, once this process isdone that individual’s information can be kept on file to make booking a room faster the nexttime the customer wants to book. The simplicity of mobile bookings has attracted the largeamounts of customers today. Many companies have apps for the iPhone and are now looking toexpand into Androids. This trend will spread and be successful because as the article, “The Heat
3is On: Five Online Travel Trends Set to Explode” from Hospitality Net; that “by 2015smartphones will take over and even overpower the traditional computer desktop. It was proventhat in March of 2012, 350 million Facebook users accessed Facebook via cell phone” (The Heatis On: 1). That statistic alone shows that the number of people using their mobile devices isincreasing drastically. I feel as though this will impact businesses positively because it will giveguests and customers the opportunity to book at their convenience and to see last minute dealsfaster which will increase the amount of reservations for companies. Priceline’s Booking.com has an application for both iPhones and iPods that allowscustomers, guests, and travelers to see openings, savings and hotels in the area. They arespecifically launching this application after having so much success last year with mobilebooking transactions being on record. Booking.com saw over $1 million in mobile bookings lastyear. Brian Ek, a spokesperson for Booking.com says, “Travelers wanting to book their travel atthe last- minute using mobile devices is small, but growing part of the overall travel market.” Heis saying that even though Booking.com saw more than $1 million in mobile bookings, which isstill considered a small portion for the overall market, they are expected to grow. Booking.comeventually made the realization that in large cities such as; Hong Kong, New York, and LosAngeles had forty percent of its bookings made for same day stays, as in the guest made thereservation on the same day that they checked into the hotel. This new application called, TheBooking.com Tonight app allows users to search for more than 200,000 hotels in the entireworld. The application will find the individuals location when the app is opened and can befiltered by star rating, price or proximity which is great for all segments of the market. The waythe application works is it first displays any last-minute deals which will help the guests findexcellent rates. Guests can see photos, maps, and read reviews through this application as well.Not only do they have this application for the iPhone and iPod, they also have applications forthe iPad and Android. They made an excellent decision when they were making this applicationespecially after seeing the success they had last year with guests using their mobile devices.More and more people will discover the simplicity of booking via mobile devices and will learnto love it. As a potential customer though, I had never heard of Booking.com prior to researchingthis topic, so they could have advertised their app better to become more successful and make itmore well known. (Johnson 1, 2). Expedia is a current competitor in the mobile booking world as well. They just releasedan application for the iPhone in April, 2012 that allows guests to reserve hotel rooms in 130,000hotels by doing it through their mobile devices. This application uses the location system on themobile device to quickly bring up hotels located near that specific guest. Once the guest beginshis/her search they can choose to view a list or a map of where all the hotels they may beinterested in are located. This application allows guests to take a slide show tour and thenreceive details through a text message once it has been booked. Expedia is moving fast andcoming out with a version of this application for Android phones this month and the iPad laterthis year (Belopotosky 2). This is a great move for Expedia; it will really help them stand out asa high quality application that others will draw to because of the slide show tour they offer andwith the follow up text messages. It will make Expedia come across as the most convenientapplication for guests to use. To make this mobile booking application even more successfulthey could also have had a list of entertainment, restaurants, or other activities in the closeproximityso that the guests could get a better idea of what he or she could do while in thatspecific area. This would allow for guests to plan their entire trip via their mobile device whichwould be at great convenience to many people, especially for our generation and younger.
4 BookMyShow Application is yet another application accessible for those who haveiPhones. This is an application, not having to do with hospitality and is new for mobile devices.It allows users to see movie listings, show times, buy tickets, and even pick their seats. Thisapplication also allows you to pay for you movie tickets which is great for the customer becausethen when they get to the theatre they do not have to wait in line, they already have their ticketpurchased and are ready to go watch their movie of choice (BookMyShow 1). Avis and Hertz, car rental companies, both have applications for booking cars via mobiledevices. The Priceline’s negotiator app is for rental cars and hotels which is why it is related tothe hospitality industry. Priceline’s is one of the top competitors because they are thinking aboutwhat they need to do to pursue guests from using Avis or Hertz over themselves. Priceline’s hasmade it possible for their customers to add insurance through mobile devices as well as rentalequipment such as a GPS, this way, the customer doesn’t have to waste any time when it comestime to pick up the vehicle (Belopotosky 2). I feel as though Avis and Hertz both need to comeup with something that will top off the Priceline’s negotiator application so that they can gainmore business. In the future we may end up going as far as picking out our groceries and paying for themvia mobile device. If this were to happen; it would allow customers to look in their kitchenswhile on their mobile devices picking out what they need, it would save time with making alldecisions at the store and waiting in line to check out and pay for it. If we could do it all throughmobile device and then just go to the store to pick up what we ordered and paid for via ourmobile devices; I’m sure many people would be in favor just because it would be a great way tosave time. We may also see that schools (colleges) begin to come out with apps for classes onmobile devices. We already have so many online classes or at least parts of our classes areonline, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if new applications started coming out for our mobiledevices for us to take our classes directly through them. Replacing our computers with just ourcell phones in 10-15 year would not surprise me in the least. Another idea would be restaurantsmaking an application for customers to order food prior to getting to the restaurant or to order atakeout order. This would be an enormous success with certain demographics such as collegeaged students, who would utilize the services on a regular basis. For the hospitality industry I feel as though mobile booking is a great way for theindustry to expand and please their guests and customers. As Will Pinell, director of mobilestrategy for Sabre Holidays said, “travelers are having growing expectations that theirsmartphone can do anything that their PCs can do” (Belopotosky 1). This is just enforcing what Imentioned earlier that we will be doing everything we do on our computers now, on oursmartphones in a just a few short years. It will make planning for vacations, business trips, orany other type of get away that much easier and less stressful for guests because they can do it attheir own convenience on their mobile device which is most likely on them at all times.Interview With An App Expert In an expert interview with Timothy Fox, Director of Customer Print Products for QuadGraphics, he provided a lot of important information about mobile booking and what it will bringfor the future. He has a lot of experience with smart phone usage, traveling worldwide, andusing booking apps. When asked what his job duties are Timothy said, “To use products viaApple or Android App store and look up “actable”. That is Quad’s “IPS – Interactive PrintSolutions” App. IPS was a team that I lead from start to launch during late 2011 and through thissummer. Interactive Print Solutions via App’s like “Actable” will be a part of most print as of2014….packaging, in-store signage, billboards, magazines, books, catalogs, direct mail pieces,
5you name it. Look at the following technologies: QR – Quick Response Codes, IR – ImageRecognition, AR – Augmented Reality, NFC – Near Field Communications, and CHIRPtechnology.” As a part of Timothy’s job he receives a new smart phone to use and experimentwith weekly or monthly. He uses various apps and different software to figure out what is bestfor customers to use and what they would want to use. When asked, “How do you think mobile booking and booking apps may or may notimpact the business landscape?” Timothy said, “They already do, but will much more so as of2014 when the iPhone-5 and Samsung Galaxy S III become the mobile devices that all othersemulate. Once these types of devices become the norm then people will do more through mobilebooking and booking apps. This also is coming into play more as people become morecomfortable with “pads/tablets”. Business travelers utilize these devices the majority of the dayand use mobile booking all the time right now.” This is a great point, customers need to becomemore comfortable with the newest smart phones and mobile booking will have an even biggerimpact as customers can use the apps comfortably. Priceline’s booking app is being reported tobe one of the easiest apps for customers to use and that is why it is so successful becausecustomers now feel it’s easier to use this app than it is to wait in line and book a service.(Belopotosky) Mobile booking cannot be denied as a popular trend in the market right now, but it has tokeep advancing and increasing user friendly features to continue to move forward. Timothy says“Mobile booking makes things more user-friendly and less need for travel agents, although thebest travel agents will survive and do well. Quality will live, quantity will decrease. Travelagents and agencies have no choice right now but to get very good at using these tools, teachingpeople how to use apps, and then selling their expertise as “travel specialists/experts.” As long asapps keep their user friendly quality’s up to date they will take out the travel agents marketing,but just as travel agency’s need to keep quality not quantity so do booking apps. Customers areonly going to use booking apps that they like, not all booking apps will be successful, but theones that are will continue to explode on the market and advance the company’s future. The mostpopular market for mobile booking is travelers doing same day booking. In the future to expandthat to a greater audience it will be important for the booking apps to keep using discounts and totarget more than traveling markets using rental cars and flying. Today, top travel-relatedpurchases on mobile devices are same-day theater tickets and restaurant reservations, etc.However, hotel bookings are soaring, and other travel components could catch up quickly. Arecent atmosphere study revealed that almost 40% of the nearly 2,400 smartphone users surveyedsaid they intended to use their devices to book a hotel stay. ("Consumer Trends 2012: MobileStrategy.") The most important thing for mobile bookings is what competitors are you trying tocompete with, and how does each competitor differ from one another? The future of mobilebooking will be heavily influenced by what booking apps customers like the most. Timothygave an expert opinion saying Apple is a good example of offering the easiest apps, “Use Appleas the example – speed, ease of use, no complications.” But when it comes to using a specificapp what competitor would win? “The fastest easiest to use will win. Same as it alwayswas….those that makes their clients the happiest with the product and/or services wins. I haveno time or patience for any app that I cannot figure out and benefit from very quickly,” statedTimothy. It is the truth; if an app is easy for someone to figure out in a few minutes then theymove on to another company’s app of that type. Rental car companies have become a hugepopularity trending in mobile booking. A good example of rental car company’s competing is
6Avis and Hertz, who both have apps for the iPhone, but are being beat out by Priceline’sNegotiator booking app (for rental cars and hotels) because it is much simpler to use and moreintuitive than the offerings by the rental agencies. (Belopotosky) The future is bright for mobile booking, and the booking apps companies that are goingwith this trend and starting to show its success are: Expedia, Priceline, and BookMyShow.However, there are several more booking apps out there, not all of them have had as greatreviews as the previous three listed. Expedia, Priceline, and BookMyShow are the booking appsto compete with this year, they are what’s trending and what’s making mobile booking somarketable. As long as these apps prove to be user friendly, and as long as mobile bookingproves to be easier than any other way of booking then there is no limit to what mobile bookingcan bring for the future.
7 Works CitedBelopotosky, Danielle. “Mobile Booking Apps Are Only Just Starting to Deliver.” The New York Times.(1-2) May 4th, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/05/business/05APPS.html?_r=1BookMy.Show (1.) 2012 http://in.bookmyshow.com/mobile/."Consumer Trends 2012: Mobile Strategy." - Travel Weekly. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2012. <http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Travel-Technology/Consumer-Trends- 2012-Mobile-strategy/>.Favell, Andrew. “Global Mobile Statistics.”MobiThinking(3-6) June, 2012. http://mobithinking.com/mobile-marketing-tools/latest-mobile-stats/a#subscribers.Fox, Timothy. "Trend Analysis." E-mail interview. 26 Sept. 2012.Johnson, Lauren. “Priceline’s Booking.com targets last- minute travelers with mobile app.” (1-2) April 11, 2012. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/booking-com-targets-last-minute- travelers-with-ios-app.“The Heat is On: Five Online Travel Trends Set to Explode.” Hospitality Net .(1.) 2012 http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4057551.html.