As travelers jump between desktop, mobile, and apps to plan and book their travels, marketers suggest it’s time for hotels to “embrace the omnichannel shoppers.”
Mobile usage is growing in all industries, but the travel industry is one of the fastest-growing.
In addition to the convenience of booking rooms directly from their mobile device, mobile apps can also promote last-minute deals, highlight rooms remaining, keep track of traveler’s rewards programs and allow travelers to check into their room using their smartphone.
According to a survey by Travelport, the average US leisure traveler uses between seven and eight different apps when planning and booking travel. 36% would like to check into a hotel via an app.
In terms of last-minute bookings, Criteo’s Summer Travel Report found that hotel’s received over 70% of last-minute bookings via mobile devices.
Travel is Mobile. You need to optimize every digital touchpoint to ensure your potential guests receive a seamless and consistent experience, on whatever device they use.
We’ve listed some of the best hotel-booking apps based on usage, popular features, and reasons you should know how potential guests are using them.
Most are free on both iPhone and Android.
We recommend you review these apps to understand what your customers are looking for and to find opportunities for your hotel to reach your very mobile customers.
This app offers one of the largest listings with access to thousands of hotels. Its filtering options allow users to quickly find the room that best suits their needs. Features like “Deals for Tonight” showcase deep discounts on last-minute bookings, while “Your Secret Price” can offer savings up to 50% off. Users also like the app’s popular “Collect 10 Nights, Get 1 Free” feature.
While this app allows bookings in advance, users save the most money booking last-minute, often at reduced rates. With 15,000 properties in over 35 countries across the Americas, Europe, and Australia they offer deals that go live each day at noon. Their in-app hotel concierge Aces includes a chat function that serves as your personal hotel Siri. With voice-activated chat, you can ask for dining, event or hotel amenity recommendations.
Users also love the collaborative community network and rapid response times.
Priceline is best known as a one-stop-shop hotel bidding site, that also offers flight, car rental, and cruise searches.
This easy to use app offers the “Name Your Own Price” feature where users name their location, price and desired star rating, enter their bid, and then book their room without knowing the name of the hotel. It also features app-only hotel promotions and special coupons with deeply discounted rates.
Popular with Millenials this last-minute hotel-booking app lists same-day offers to start at 12 p.m. local times.
Although its parent company is Standard International of Standard Hotels, this app has a distinctly modern boutique vibe with stylish black and white photos and videos and features “24-Hour Insider Tips” offering suggestions on what to do at certain times of the day.
The booking process is simple, specific and spontaneous. Currently, only Austin and Dallas hotels are listed in Texas, but the cool appeal and functionality will probably lead to future expansion.
Those shopping for steeply discounted hotel bookings might start with the Expedia app. Expedia offers exclusive deals often not available on its website, including the app-only 2x Expedia rewards points for every dollar spent and many 20 to 30%-off deals.
The account section of the app shows rewards activity including the option to apply Expedia Reward points to your booking.
Expedia’s large listing database also finds flights, car rentals, tours and vacation packages all on through the app. The app includes payment terms (if you’re able to book now and pay later or cancel up until a certain date), as well as hotel maps, amenities, and photos.
Travelocity’s mobile app has access to some 300,000 hotels. Its “Top Secret Hotels” feature allows users to book a mystery hotel at a deeply discounted price.
Travelocity offers many hotel reviews, 24/7 customer support, and a guarantee that it’ll match any room price and refund the difference if you find a cheaper rate online.
Another last-minute booking app, HotelsCombined allows users to compare the prices of all the top travel sites, providing access to more than 800,000 hotels.
In addition to hotel reviews and ratings, this comparison hotel search site offers a best-price guarantee and plenty of filter options to drill down quickly to the hotel to meet specifications. Plus, each hotel listing comes with plenty of photos.
Large hotel chains are also upping their app game:
Marriott’s hotel-booking app lists its 4,400-plus properties worldwide and promotes its point program for each stay.
Users can also use the app to track and redeem Marriott Rewards from their account. It also sends alerts when the room is ready.
The Hilton Honors hotel-booking app covers the company’s massive inventory of some 5,000 hotels across a multitude of brands that include Hilton, Embassy Suites, Conrad, Hilton Garden Inn, and DoubleTree.
Their mobile app features the selection of the exact room desired, check-in, keyless room access, and even the ability to request extra pillows or towels. Plus, there are no blackout dates when using points through the app to book a room.
Why Is This Important for Hoteliers?
The rise in hotel and travel apps has permanently changed how consumers research and book. Mobile apps are the most successful way to capture last-minute bookings.
While building a custom app can be hugely time-consuming and expensive, having a strategy to maximize mobile traffic from other providers is critical and doable.
Pull out your smartphone. Review your presence on all platforms for consistency, technical features, and needed upgrades. Look for opportunities with unique offers and overall branding.
OTA booking figures clearly show that travelers readily book via mobile when the experience is smooth. With some effort and mobile awareness, hotels can drive more conversions their way through mobile apps.