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Priceline.com appeals to last-minute mobile travelers with same-day dealsBy
Priceline.com is giving last-minute travelers a way to book hotels for the same night at a discount via a new mobile deals service.
Tonight-Only Deals will be posted every morning at 11 a.m. and are available to book via Priceline.com’s Hotel & Rental Car Negotiator app until 11 p.m. or until they sell out. The new service was developed in response to the fact that many of Priceline.com’s mobile customers are booking hotels for same-day check-in.
“We have other mobile apps for published-price and Name Your Own Price hotel rooms, and we were finding that travelers using those apps were booking same-day rooms about 70 percent of the time,” said Brian Ek, spokesman for Priceline.com, Norwalk, CT.
“So there was an apparent market need right there to provide a service where travelers could book the hotel they wanted for check-in that night and get the room at a discount,” he said.
“On the supplier-side, this provided another way for our hotel partners to sell rooms that were likely going to go unfilled for that night.”
Priceline.com is using what it has learned about mobile users from its app to offer services designed for mobile users, such as Tonight-Only Deals.
The findings include that mobile customers are almost twice as likely as desktop-equipped consumers to book their hotel rooms at the last minute, with 70 percent of mobile device travelers booking their hotels within one day of arrival versus 45 percent for desktop.
“Mobile customers are so last-minute, that over half of them are already in town by the time they book, and one-third are only a mile from their hotel,” Mr. Ek said.
Additionally, 58 percent of mobile customers were within 20 miles of their hotel and 35 percent were within one mile of their hotel when they booked.
Other findings include that travelers tend to use mobile booking more for short getaways, with 79 percent of mobile customers booking only one night versus 62 percent among desktop customers.
Mobile travelers are also willing to treat themselves to high-caliber hotels, with 82 percent of mobile customers choosing hotels that are three-star or higher versus 75 percent among desktop customers.
The new Tonight-Only Deals service will be available to iPhone and iPod touch users of Priceline.com’s Hotel & Rental Car Negotiator app.
Users will have access to an exclusive inventory of three-star and four-star hotel rooms in 34 cities that can be booked for check-in that same night at discounts of up to 35 percent off published prices.
The new service will show the names of all the available hotels with descriptions, maps and photos, along with the rates and the percentage discounts.
Tonight-Only Deals also will display each hotel’s customer satisfaction score and reviews generated by Priceline.com guests who have stayed there.
Cities where Tonight-Only Deals can be found include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Fe and Washington, DC.
More cities will be added in the future.
While Priceline.com also offers a Hotel & Rental Car Negotiator app for Android, the Tonight-Only Deals service is currently only for iPhone and iPod touch. These users will need to download the newest version of the app to gain access to the new service.
When a traveler searches the app’s published-price hotel listings for a same-night stay, the app will also look for Tonight-Only Deals and alert the traveler if specially discounted deals are available.
The traveler will then see a list of up to three available hotel room reservations per city and will see which hotels have reservations available.
Room reservations can be immediately booked through the app’s easy check-out feature.
“The goal is to provide travelers with significant travel savings and to provide hotels with an effective way to sell their perishable inventory,” Mr. Ek said.
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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