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Omni Hotels adds flexibility to mobile booking with courtesy holdBy
In a reflection of how mobile is increasingly being used to research travel plans in advance, Omni Hotels & Resorts claims to be the first luxury hotel brand to offer a 24-hour courtesy hold for reservations made through mobile devices.
Travel-related brands often focus on mobile’s ability to enable travelers who already on the road book hotel rooms, car rentals and other services for the same day. However, as consumers increasingly leverage their smartphones throughout the day for a variety of activities, including researching an upcoming trip, savvy travel marketers are introducing services that meet the needs of these potential customers.
“[Courtesy hold] provides our guests flexibility to research locations and vacation packages available online at omnihotels.com and lock in the rates for up to 24 hours without credit card-confirmation, payment or penalty,” said Tom Santora, chief marketing officer at Omni Hotels & Resorts.
“We redesigned our Web site late last year, and updates have been made in phases,” he said. “The courtesy hold function was always part of the plan and we are pleased to introduce it now as part of the overall redesign, ensuring the site is fully optimized for mobile platforms.
“Our customer data indicated nearly 50 percent of our guests’ research hotel reservations options from their mobile device or tablet, and then finalize their room reservations later from their desktop computers. This reinforces they are using mobile devices to research future hotel stays.”
Higher mobile conversions
The courtesy hold on mobile helps Omni Hotel & Resorts address two challenges it was facing – how to drive higher conversions on mobile and overcome the obstacle of completing a reservation on a mobile device.
The new feature enables guests to hold a reservation at the quoted rate for up to 24 hours without booking without credit card confirmation, payment or penalty.
To hold a reservation, customers enter their name, email and phone number. Guests have the option to complete their booking online at omnihotels.com.
Omni will also send an email reminder to consumers who have not completed their booking.
If the reservation is not confirmed within the 24-hour time period, the reservation is automatically released with no charge to the guest.
“We believe that offering a hold for mobile bookings is a smart, tactical innovation to help combat the customer hurdle of typing in a 16-digit credit card number, name and address on a mobile device with a small screen,” said Scott Garner, president of data and analytics at Adara. “This has been one of the biggest supplier barriers to ultimately increase mobile bookings.
“The mobile hold provides a bridge, literally, that will allow guests to research on their mobile devices and then follow-up with full billing information and conversion on their PC,” he said. “We believe travelers will increasingly continue to book rooms on their mobile devices, but it is up to the suppliers to continue innovating and reduce mobile booking barriers to make it easier for the customer.”
Omni’s decision to launch a courtesy hold on mobile speaks to the way its customers are planning their trips, with nearly 50 percent of the chain’s guests researching hotel reservations from their mobile device or tablet and then finalizing their room reservations later from their desktop computers.
Courtesy hold is the latest example of how Omni Hotel & Resorts is leading the way in mobile marketing.
In 2008, the brand was among the first to enable a brand-wide mobile check-in.
In 2013, Omni was one of the first hotel groups to add its loyalty program to Google Wallet.
“Industry research shows that researching and planning on mobile devices is much more prevalent than booking on mobile devices,” Mr. Garner said. “Mobile device activity still skews to last minute bookings, but we are seeing an increasing number of bookings happening earlier in the planning lifecycle.
“It is imperative that we make the mobile booking process easier for consumers, and innovations like Omni’s courtesy hold are a step in the right direction.”
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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