January 07, 2013

Study of last-minute mobile hotel bookings for New Year’s Eve


An analysis of Expedia booking patterns shows that the week leading up to New Year's Eve tends to see a surge in hotel rooms booked via mobile at the last minute. Such bookings are up to 50% higher than similar bookings in November and the first half of December.

Conducted online by Harris Interactive among 2,893 online U.S. adults, the study examined consumer willingness to use a mobile device to book a hotel room within 24 hours, and the various reasons for doing so.

Many last-minute holiday bookings, in fact, are made late at night, after the New Year has been rung in. According to the Harris Study, among adults with a history of booking a last-minute room on New Year's Eve, the most commonly cited reason (selected by 50% of these respondents) was necessity; they had consumed one or two drinks too many and elected to spend the night in a hotel. The second-most cited reason (selected by 35% of these respondents) was personal; they had found love (or believed they had), and chose to explore those emotions immediately, in a nearby hotel room.

The third most-cited reason (27% of these respondents) was pure whimsy – they felt they owed it to themselves to start the year in a comfortable hotel bed, perhaps with a free continental breakfast. Unnamed "Other" reasons were cited by 22% of these respondents, and a full 3% of these consumers gave no reason whatsoever for booking a last-minute room on New Year's Eve via mobile. They just went ahead and did it.

NOTE: Consumers who indicated they'd ever booked a last minute room on New Year's Eve were not required to choose a single reason for booking a New Year's Eve hotel room at the last minute via mobile. They could choose one or more of the reasons. Thus, the percentage of responses to this question exceeds 100%.

According to the survey, 13% of American consumers have booked a last-minute hotel room using a travel app or a travel website via a mobile device, defined here as a phone or a tablet. That percentage should rise; 37% of those who have never done this expressed they would be willing to consider doing so in the future. Among those who have already done so, 46% booked a three-star hotel on their most recent booking. 39% booked a four-star hotel. 6% booked a five-star hotel, while 7% booked a 2-star hotel and 2% settled for one star.

Expedia regularly sees mobile last-minute booking spikes during the holidays. In the first quarter of 2012, the busiest mobile booking period was around Valentine's Day weekend. The next-busiest booking period was around St. Patrick's Day, while the weekend following New Year's Eve was the third-busiest. These patterns suggest that romance and revelry are among the prime causes of mobile hotel bookings, no matter the time of year. And when the two factors combine, mobile booking surge.

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