Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mobile Motels

Everything that is being published about guest accommodation booking behavior clearly points to mobile devices as a rapidly growing method for consumers to access travel information.

Ideally motel websites should be built to work on mobile devices and the common use of flash (that isn't compatible with Apple devices) is definitely a no-no. The booking widget used on motel websites should also be engineered to operate on mobile devices to ensure that the consumer reservation and payment process is easy and intuitive. Sadly, many motels are unable to offer an effective website that will hook the swell of potential mobile guests.

The scale of most motel businesses dictate that it is simply uneconomic to develop individual mobile device applications.

While their own websites lag behind changes in buying behavior, most moteliers rely upon third party web and app solutions to ensure that their product remains visible to mobile consumers.

Last year AA Tourism released their new app XplrNZ with much fanfare. XplrNZ used innovative  location based technology that made functionality very personalised. The killer-sell for the app was the use of "augmented reality" that allowed users on the go to park-up and view a picture of their immediate surroundings through their smartphone's camera. Clickable icons overlaid the picture that allowed users to access further information about nearby attractions and accommodation options. If an accommodation option was selected, users had access to accommodation advertisers' information on the website including pictures, descriptions, directions along with "Been There" travel reviews. 

It was disappointing was that the app didn't interface with AA's online reservation system and it was keenly anticipated that  future versions would include a bookable feature...  

After burning many tens of thousands of dollars, I see that XplrNZ has been unceremoniously dumped and stripped of its AA branding along with many of its original features. 

The future of XplrNZ would appear uncertain, however AA Tourism looks like they have moved-on and have released a "replacement" app imaginatively called AA Tourism

The new "no-thrills" AA Tourism app released yesterday includes location based technology and lists its  accommodation and activity advertisers with interactive maps and access to Been There Traveller Reviews. There is no augmented reality functionality and more tellingly users are still unable to interface with AA's live online reservation system - ie: the app still not bookable.

Mobile users that wish to book a New Zealand motel using a mobile application seem to be restricted to only a few overseas based OTA apps. Moteliers will be looking forward to Jasons Travel Media's app scheduled for release later this month that will hopefully set a new benchmark by allowing more mobile users to book a motel on the go...

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