There is no denying that phone bookings are on the rise, considering most people are thinking and researching about traveling while on the go. As the use of mobiles to search for and book hotels explodes, hoteliers are monitoring the trends carefully to ensure that they are not overlooking any bookings, either to online travel agencies or competitors. But they’re also working to lower costs and serve the mobile market as efficiently as possible.
Obviously, frequent travelers who are loyalty program members are most likely to book via a smartphone. They more than likely have dedicated apps that have stored their information to make the booking process go by with ease. But what about those who aren’t frequent guests?
There are three categories of mobile users:
• Frequent guests who are members of major brand loyalty programs. Major brands that incorporate a large loyalty program will notice more click-to-book mobile use. This is because credit card and personal information is already stored, so only the loyalty number needs to be entered.
• Loyalty members who aren’t frequent travelers and don’t have their credit card numbers saved. These customers should be provided with user-friendly booking engines that might use the “mobile wallets” offered by banks, Google and some wireless carriers. Some other countries are already using this technology.
• Non-loyal guests. Many travelers don’t want to bother with loyalty programs and won’t enter their credit card information or use a mobile wallet. Instead, they want access to an 800 number so they can actually speak to a representative.
Hoteliers are slowly trying to wean customers off of calling to book a room and onto mobile booking, with the most progress being made by hotels with large loyalty programs. For example, Marriott booked $750 million of revenue on mobile devices in 2012, including smartphones and tablets. Customers book their stay by using credit cards or pulling up their saved credit card information stored in their Marriott Rewards profile.
In order to make the switch to mobile, hoteliers need to make it easier for customers to book on their mobile devices. A complicated booking process paired with exhausting data entry is exactly what discourages customers from booking their stay through their smartphones. To solve this, Wyndham developed Express Book, where customers simply enter a first and last name and email address to make a reservation. As long as the booking is for the same night or the next night, the booking will be reserved.
It only makes sense that the next big thing in booking is the use of mobile devices, considering consumers typically have their phones with them at all times. Have you begun to evolve the way people book a stay at your establishment? For the latest news and trends of the hospitality industry, be sure to check out our MarketPlace blog.