Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More Mobile Motels

It seems that all research is pointing towards more and more travellers turning to their mobile devices to not only research accommodation and travel options, but to make bookings. This makes perfect sense as we are all intrinsically aware that upwardly mobile, on-the-go-travellers are increasingly making last-minute decisions and are spending more time looking for travel inspiration from the screens of smartphones and tablets. And mobile is the perfect fit for travel...because it's mobile!

Mobile channel bookings have increased four-fold between 2008 and 2010 and although this has started from a from a low base, it's likely that this phenomenal rate will continue. To support this theory, Google have predicted that mobile will overtake PCs as the most common web-access device by 2013.

It's difficult for an accommodation provider in New Zealand to put all of this into perspective, especially when consumer behavior here tends to lag behind overseas travel trends. 

It would seem inevitable that Kiwi consumers will catch-up. Travellers are adopting smartphones and tablets at a rapid pace and they are the hottest desirable Christmas gift this year.

In order for accommodation providers to expose themselves to a relevant audience, it's crucial that this includes optimising websites for mobile along with using booking engines that are also mobile-enabled.

While it is probably cost prohibitive for most accommodation providers to create, market and maintain their own mobile application, it is appealing to use third party providers that list bookable accommodation options on a mobile app. 

Up until recently, Kiwi moteliers relied upon listing with northern hemisphere Online Travel Agencies to be included on mobile apps. It's great to see that AA Travel have added online booking to their iPhone app over the weekend and have ended Jasons Travel's brief reign as the only New Zealand based company to offer a bookable accommodation app. 

Much like Jasons app, the process of identifying suitable accommodation options when using AA Travel's updated app may not be as user friendly as it could be. After selecting a location, users are presented with an unwieldy list of accommodation options that are unqualified by availability and room type (ie suitability of room according to number of persons). With this said, AA's app is still very usable and its timely release before the Christmas holiday season is significant.

If we are honest, the release of both the AA and Jasons apps will probably not unleash a tsunami  of bookings for accommodation suppliers at first - however, who knows what their significance as a source of business may be by this time next year? 

Hopefully, Kiwis that have received a shiny new Apple mobile device under the Christmas tree in a few days time will join others that are increasingly making travel decisions on-the-go. It's good news that we have a choice of apps by two competing New Zealand travel companies that have enabled iPhone users to book Kiwi motels.

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