Mobile media is fundamentally changing the way people acquire some services -- especially travel.
In relaunching its mobile Web site this week, travel retailer Orbitz followed its users' lead. “The main statistic driving this is that 65% of mobile customers on Orbitz are booking hotels for the same day," says Chris Brown, vice president, product at Orbitz. At the desktop site, only 14% of hotel bookings are for the same day.
This new behavior is opening up unprecedented opportunities for Orbitz, because it changes the way in which people used to find nearby hotels. Traditionally, these customers would just drive to the nearest hotel or call information, then book based on where operators placed them.
“This new medium of mobile allows them to comparison shop and find great deals at the very last minute,” says Brown. The new Orbitz.com for mobile Web browsers includes “Mobile Steals” -- discounts of up to 50% on hotels that are available only to mobile customers, including iPad users.
“We’re uniquely positioned to pair that demand with suppliers with unfilled rooms and provide great rates,” he says.
The new Orbitz mobile site also gives a logged-in user more cross-platform experiences. Users can start and save a travel search on mobile and retrieve that history on the desktop, and vice versa. The site will help book vacations on up to four rooms, and see all flight and room package options.
Tablet users have their own patterns. According to Brown, the customers they see coming in from the tablet interface split the difference when it comes to same-day bookings, with just over 30% of hotel customers looking for a place to stay that night.
Brown says that year-over-year, mobile transaction growth is over 100%. InternetRetailer recently ranked Orbitz No. 12 in m-commerce revenue among all retailers, but he says their internal numbers show greater 2012 sales even higher. The mobile site alone gets over 2 million unique users a month, he claims. The “Mobile Steals” offers are available now in 50 cities worldwide.