No Reservations? No Problem – Competitive Report Reveals Which Last-Minute Hotel App Ranks #1

by Jennifer Knodler

It’s been a few years now, but I recall distinctly when the transition to mobile in the travel industry happened. I was in the midst of traveling often for business and I said to Sidra Michon, Product Usability Manager at KAYAK, that I felt like I needed to sort hotels by “Free access to print your boarding pass”. She chuckled at how real my problem was. A few months later, Brian Sullivan, then at Sabre, suggested to me that I wouldn’t need anything but my phone (my shiny new iPhone, that was) in the coming months.

Then, it was a domino effect. I could book my flight, complete a purchase for my luggage, use my phone as a boarding pass, book a hotel, check in, aggregate my travel itinerary, order takeout to my hotel room, hail a cab, use Wi-Fi on the flight and in the airport, map my route, even if walking in NYC. I could dictate emails while in transit, listen to webinars via conferencing software, check the CRM system for updates, get notified about travel changes and delays. The single most powerful tool that I had available was my smartphone. I didn’t need a wallet, a computer or a pen.

Today’s travelers are exactly as Moxie describes: “Tethered, Tolerant and Talking vs. Mobile, Multitasking and Messaging”. They need to be reached in different ways. Dana Bishop, primary report analyst and Director of Quantitative Research, was awed by the mad scramble of traditional travel companies to throw their hat in the “last minute arena”, as she puts it. It seemed that this Mobile, Multitasking and Messaging culture wants instant, satisfying and simple, too.

As a result, the Competitive Report Division of KLI, run by Bishop, recently announced a new report in our Competitive Index portfolio that focuses on overall functionality and experiences offered by today’s last minute hotel booking apps. Titled Last-Minute Hotel Booking Mobile Competitive Index Report, KLI reviews sixteen (16) apps including those designed specifically for booking last-minute travel as well as the top OTAs in the U.S.

This is more than an industry standard travel technology survey. KLI asks users traditional questions about their current behavior to understand trends, but they push to learn about the innovation that consumers are buzzing about, what they expect to see next, what barriers to a perfect experience exist.

“With many players in direct competition to secure a place to rest your head while traveling, the indecision about which booking agent or OTA to use can be paralyzing to the user.” says Phillip McGuinness, report contributor. “As with all of our reports, we survey the target audience to see what they need and want in terms of features and capabilities first. Then, we take those desires into consideration when comparing and ranking the apps, giving more weight to consumer’s top priorities.”

Apps in this assessment include: Airbnb, BookingNow, Expedia, Hipmunk, HotelPlanner.com, Hotels.com, HotelTonight, Hotwire, Jetsetter, Last Minute Travel Deals, Orbitz, Priceline, Room 77, Stayful, Travelocity and TripAdvisor.

The review examines their iPhone and Android apps (where applicable) and ultimately ranks the apps, awarding top rank to those who most effectively meet the consumer’s self-defined need.

Buyers receive a detailed report that identifies the survey results and the associated ranking of the 16 apps. They also benefit from detailed best-in-class features including screen prints and expert analysis. Opportunities for improvement are discussed as well as a new trends and innovation section where new concepts such as the use of an app to open hotel room doors or a mobile chat feature to communicate with hotel staff are highlighted.

“Differentiation such as the ability to set style preferences, access customer reviews, set filters, as well as view saved search history and favorites become apparent. Better, the impact that these features have on the user experience or the ability to meet user preferences is identified.” states Bishop. “Organizations crave both a way keep pace with what consumers want as they build their roadmap while also tracking and scoring themselves against the competition; to have a baseline that they want to beat as they continue to evolve. This offers them just that.”

Read the full press release here.
To purchase the published report, please reach out to Key Lime Interactive for more information here.

Personalization Is All The Buzz [SXSW Recap]

by Kathleen Henning

One of the big themes of nearly every SXSW event we attended was personalization. Even events about the Future of TV had panelists talking about supplemental apps or making sure people could watch on the devices they chose. A news discussion with Dan Rather and Dan Pfeiffer also discussed how people consume news on the platforms of their choice, like Facebook and Twitter. Customers are looking for a more personal, customized experience in the place of their choice.
Predictive technology is making big strides in making these more curated experiences accurate. Facebook’s facial recognition technology is making use of their extensive data on user tagging so they can auto-tag your photographs when you post them. This technology may be more accurate than that of law enforcement. Netflix’s House of Cards was famously made by using data to understand that a political drama starring Kevin Spacey directed by David Fincher would be popular. An important consideration with using predictive data for customer recommendations is providing said data to customers.
Personalization is changing the landscape all over. I went to a talk by Karlie Kloss and Sara Wilson about technology and its role in Fashion Week. Models andFullSizeRender 29 editors can now deliver a more personal experience to a massive audience using Instagram and Twitter. They can let people into their lives remotely and enable fan interaction. Vogue recently had a cover featuring nine models with large Instagram followings.
Companies are integrating data into their operations in a variety of ways. Capital One is experimenting with personalized financial recommendations AND personalized offers / rewards recommendations in new apps Ideas and Level Money. Ideas provides recommendations for different types of activities in 4 beta markets: NYC, LA, Richmond, and DC. Level Money lets customers link accounts and program in budgets and receive alerts and content depending on their spending.
For television, companies are looking to make the experience more intimate for viewers. Some companies are experimenting with companion apps, especially in the UK. These might let viewers answer quizzes or play related games while watching. Other companies are trying to make promotions / advertisements more personal. For Game of Thrones Season 5, HBO ran a promotion called The Sight in which people would get text messages with video links that would disappear. The videos would be different for different users but communicate small snippets of information about the upcoming season in the guise of visions / dreams. In Spain, Canal + ran a promotion called 19 Reinos that turned all of Spain into an interactive Game of Thrones-themed game played via multiple different channels: Twitter, Facebook, brand websites, and physical stores.
FullSizeRender 49Customers all over the world are looking for targeted, personal experiences. User experience research is one way companies try to identify what kinds of experiences are most valuable to customers. Airbnb mentioned that when they redesigned their website, they made sure to keep the hosts involved in the process since their feedback was critical to its success. There was a fantastic talk by Etsy about how user experience feedback, both from users and from their clickstream data, was extremely valuable to their design process and their feature prioritization. Part of Capital One Labs’ approach to every project is a pilot study with 5-10k end users to understand how they’re using the product.
Stay tuned for more SXSW recaps in the coming months!