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Some 70 percent of last-minute hotel bookings for Priceline.com come from mobile — app and site. But when you consider the habits of mobile bookers, they tend to be on polar ends of the spectrum.
That’s the view of John Caine, chief product officer at Priceline.com. Skift caught up with Caine yesterday after he participated in a panel, “Get Smarter, Not Bigger: Using Data to Fuel Innovation,” during Internet Week in New York City.
Caine detailed a “tale of two users,” and air-drew a curve in the shape of an exaggerated smile to depict their varied behaviors. “We plotted how people were purchasing hotels on mobile devices over various apps. Zero-day, one-day, two-day, there’s a nice big spike,” he said. “The further out you go, it diminishes in the middle, and then it spikes again after 30 days.”
He continued, “What’s most interesting is that the people who are booking at the very last minute are more deal conscious and hotel agnostic. They lean towards the opaque product. And when they are purchasing and researching 30-days plus, they are much more likely to favor our disclosed hotel product.”
Priceline.com offers two varieties of opaque products: Name Your Own Price bidding, where the hotel name isn’t disclosed until a bid is accepted, and Express Deals, where the rate is known up-front but not the identity of the hotel.
The “disclosed hotel product” that Caine is referring to is the traditional retail product found on Priceline.com and most online travel agency sites, where both the hotel name and the rate revealed immediately on the first search results page.
Priceline.com’s mobile transactions are not just last-minute bookers. In mobile, as Caine explains, the product choices vary depending on the length of time the user takes to research and book.
As users become more comfortable purchasing accommodations on their mobile phones new opportunities and challenges surface.
“There’s less visibility into forward-looking customer demand when people begin to shift to last minute,” Caine said.
It almost goes without saying: The booking sites and hotels need to stay close to their custormers’ online shopping behaviors and adapt to their needs.
Priceline.com found that 50 percent of its same-day bookings are made after 6 p.m. within 30 miles and 25 percent are within five miles of their hotel. Caine added that there is a strong correlation between the company’s loyal customers and early adopters of technology.
Priceline.com found these trends helpful when creating its Apple Watch app. Providing nearby hotel options while travelers are in-market and trip notifications is Priceline’s way of simplifying the travel experience.