I was intrigued by this piece from Gigaom focused on the ultra competitive world of hotel booking apps. The huge opportunity in this space probably doesn't need to be rehearsed. Let's just restate that over 20% of ALL hotel bookings are now conducted via tablet or mobile (a number that takes no account of those partly researched on those platforms), and that, as shown below, the mobile bookings market is now tipping along and $50 billion a year and - of course - growing. So it's a space that looks set to continue to reward innovation and smart mobile marketing techniques.


Some of these, from Hotels Tonight, are discussed in the article. Specifically the app is now integrating location knowledge not just to display relevant hotels but also to visibly reduce prices to users who can theoretically be 'tempted' to book on impulse. What is interesting about the way this campaign is working is that location is being used in a more sophisticated way than you might think, showing discounts to users in a 'sweet spot' distance wise - neither too close nor too far from the destination.

To understand that idea, imagine offering discounts to users already in the hotel lobby. Clearly that would be crazy. But of course so would offering discounts on hotels in Tokyo tomorrow night to a user currently in New York. The campaigns are perfectly designed (and perhaps tested?) to find the right balance. And it is smart marketing like this that makes all the difference when it comes to driving engagement and revenue.

It's perhaps also worth noting that this campaign still relies on location alone. To the best of my knowledge, there's no folding in of the intelligence gleaned from prior app use (such as the knowledge of a favourite hotel for example). That's no criticism, but location + intelligence is certainly somewhere the industry will move towards in the very near future.

Knowing Your Audience

But perhaps the most interesting point is at the end of the piece: that these campaigns would not necessarily work for some of Hotel Tonight's competitors. Not because they would be executed poorly, but because the demographic using those apps is less accustomed to regularly checking them and booking on impulse. A timely reminder that anyone prescribing specific campaigns for your business should be taken with a pinch of salt. What works for some may not work for others - perhaps the ultimate argument for A/B testing all your campaigns!