At the Mobile Insider Summit here in Tahoe, there has been a lot of discussion about marketing into moments. Typically we think about this in terms of interceptive advertising -- targeting interruptive ads that get the potential customer at a heightened moment of need.
But one of the themes that has emerged here is “instant.” That is, mobility is quickly altering people’s expectations of service and the availability of mission critical information. Bill Keen, who oversees mobile for InterContinental Hotels Group, discussed how same-day bookings have skyrocketed since the adoption of devices. He called it that “oh crap” moment of people realizing they need a place to stay. In some sense, mobile has made advance planning less pressing. People are developing a shadow sense, knowing they now have advanced tools at their disposal to handle immediate needs.
Megan Hughes, who oversees mobile product for Orbitz, echoed that observation with raw stats from her user base. A third of all hotel bookings through Orbitz are now occurring on mobile, and 65% of those reservations are happening the same day as the stay. Compare that staggering figure to desktop behaviors, where only 15% of room bookings are for that night.
Instant is the expectation.
And the willingness to buy via devices and close the loop on mobile is escalating. Orbitz surveyed customers and found that 75% now say they are likely to book travel on phones in the future –- up significantly from 36% who said so last year. And that mobile customer is extremely valuable, since the average spend from them is over $1000.
Instant also means that you don’t always know at what instant the user is ready to pull the trigger. Both on and off stage this week I have heard a lot of interest in brands wanting to create more seamless cross-screen experiences. Allowing customers to start research or even transactions on one platform and pick them up where they left off on another will be a hot commodity in coming months. Orbitz is already starting down this road by having someone’s previous search on Orbitz.com or in the app show up across platforms. They are also pulling in dynamic background images of the last destination you searched across platforms in order to keep the inspiration stoked.
Mobile apps are one of the ways to best ensure cross-screen handoffs because the user often is logged in. And so activating and maintaining app use and loyalty has been a persistent theme among brands. Hughes told us that the company is testing a number of different value propositions that are unique to the app, such as rewarding app bookings with additional loyalty points.
But one thing that has also come up across these three days is the ability of mobile to knit together the end-to-end experience and get beyond the purchase itself. Both Keen and Hughes discussed that a real point of competition among the players in their respective categories is how the brands can enhance the experience after the purchase. For Keen it is a matter of imagining how devices can enhance the stay at one of the hotels, interact with the services and opportunities on site. For Hughes it is working on app features that enrich the travel experience: key push notifications, anticipating traveler needs, etc.
This idea makes a lot of sense given the intimate nature of the phone and our relationship to it. This is where the brand becomes a companion -- not just a service. By leveraging the always-on, always-there nature of mobile, the brand is with you, responding to circumstance and augmenting the experience. This may be the place where customer loyalty is won or lost to competitors. The companies that know how to use mobility and make that transition from vendor to companion, resource to friend, are the ones making the most of mobile.