There is a phenomenal growth in mobile Internet usage in India and abroad with
45% of e – commerce revenues coming through mobiles.
Mobiles and tablets have made our life much easier and simpler. Today people have
hardly any time to sit in front of a computer and plan for their next vacation. Using a
mobile phone to do so is much more accessible and convenient for people. Booking
via mobiles is an intelligent choice for travellers, wherein they book a hotel while
travelling or in midst of doing any activity. Phones are no longer a luxury but are
actually the most preferred way of doing business. Earlier when we used to think of
a holiday, planning was done months in advance and all the bookings were made
through a traditional travel agent but these days with the advent of technology and
changes in user behaviors, the middleman has been cut, with bookings being made
Hotels also in fact prefer direct bookings because it brings down the commission cost
for them which they ultimately used to pass on to the consumer, so a lower price for
the consumer means higher bookings, keeping both parties happy.
As per a report released by Google, online hotel bookings will be worth Rs 1.8 billion
from the current figure of Rs.0.8 billion by 2016 end, with over 8.4 million Indians
making their bookings online. Users in the age group of 35-44 are the most savvy
and mobile phones have emerged as the preferred choice of device for accessing the
Internet. On Google search, hotel searches from mobile saw 30-fold growth from
2011 to 2014. This was validated in the offline research, where over 27%
respondents said they use mobile phones to search and book hotels on the Internet
and over 56% of users who book hotels online have a travel app installed.
As per India’s leading travel website, MakeMyTrip, 53% of overall domestic hotel
bookings come via mobile phones while the rest come through laptops/desktops.
Around 80% of mobile bookings are of check-ins up to a week in advance, 61% of
mobile app users make last minute bookings and 32% of the bookings are for the
same day. This is a major positive development as it shows that the customer has
become more confident and comfortable in transacting on that particular platform.
Similarly, according to Yahoo Finance, China’s leading online travel agency, Ctrips’
Mobile platform contributed to over 40% of the total hotel bookings at its peak level
which far exceeded the respective booking percentages from its website and call
Mobile is clearly becoming the go-to booking platform for both MakeMyTrip and
In short, factors for the sizzling growth of mobile bookings are: –
Of course the major factor is the advancement in technology, which has
allowed users to use smartphones wherein all these websites and apps can
be easily viewed.
With the ability to browse unlimitedly and social media and websites like Trip
Advisor, customers get to know of a lot of hitherto unknown boutique hotels
and resorts. They also get to know of a lot of discounts, deals and honest user
The biggest benefit is convenience! No more going to a third party travel
agent all the way to some other part of the city or having to sit in front of a
desktop. The control and power is in your hands, you can make or cancel a
booking, discover thousands of hotels with just a tap of your finger.
Another major benefit that hotels get from making bookings via a hotel’s
own mobile app is the wide range of benefits offered by that hotel.
Hyatt offers its guests using its mobile app, a facility to check in and check
out on the go. While Hilton Worldwide estimates that about 615,000 users
have downloaded its application. Along with the ability to make or modify
reservations and check in/outs, the app also offers services like meals tthat
are ready to be served when the guests arrive.
Consumers are eager to learn new things and ready to adopt and adapt to
new technologies. With the increase in mobile bookings, smartphone usage
and dependency on mobile apps, hoteliers still have some work cut out for
them to enhance user experience.
A few things that are becoming hurdles for hoteliers when it comes to
tapping the smartphone market are: –
1) Clunky User Experience
The most important thing for a mobile user is the user experience, both in
MWeb and a Mobile App. A lot of times a user browses through a hotel’s
website/app only to migrate at the time of the booking. Figuring out how
to address a consumer’s needs during the shopping/booking process on a
screen that’s 1/6th the size of a computer screen definitely poses a lot of
challenges. New functionalities and attractive features constantly needed
to be added to ensure a seamless experience to a user.
2) Tedious Payment Processes
One click payment is the answer here! Entering all your payment details
on a tiny mobile screen, no matter how fancy the smartphone, is
definitely a task, and a tedious one at that. Hotels and other booking
websites need to incorporate the concept of one click payments without
the user having to manually enter payment details each time.
3) Lack of Consumer Comfort in the older population
As much as the millennial generation is tech savvy, it’s increasingly
difficult for the older generations to adapt to these changes and they still
prefer going through the route of a travel agent.
4) Difficult Navigation
Conversion rates are a sore point for many hoteliers and making mobile
websites responsive is the key here. Many times hotel websites offer
vastly different user experiences on web and on mobile, and while
maintaining a difference is important but ensuring that the user
experience remains the same and the website is easy to browse through
is equally important.
Attracting users and guests to book directly via their mobile
apps/websites is a win win situation for the hotel, both in terms of a
financial perspective and brand perspective.