BDRC Continental put the hotel industry to the test in an online mobile booking mystery shopping exercise. InterContinental, Marriott and Holiday Inn Express offered the best overall mobile booking experiences to mystery shoppersUsage of mobile devices amongst business and leisure travellers continues to grow, and in 2014 has reached an all-time high in Great Britain. Between a third and a half of smartphone users actively seek information about hotels through their mobiles.
British brands lagging in the mobile arena may well be off-limits to increasing numbers of overseas travellers too, as last year Great Britain trailed almost every other market tracked in BDRC’s Hotel Guest Survey programme for traveller adoption of mobile devices.
To gain a snapshot of hotel mobile booking performance, BDRC’s fieldwork team used an iPhone on a 3G connection to book three rooms at each of 50 hotel properties (across 32 brands), assessing each experience for speed of connection, clarity of information, ease/convenience of use and speed/content of confirmation email.
The InterContinental, Marriott and Holiday Inn Express brands offered the most complete overall booking experiences to mystery shoppers, but superb consistency within its brands saw Hilton Worldwide claim the top “group” spot.
“Mobile, as a channel, is an opportunity for hotel brands to take the fight back to OTAs,” James Bland, client services director at BDRC Continental remarked, “but if your mobile site is not up to scratch, you could be missing out.”
“The British hotel sector is actually fairly well developed in terms of the mobile booking experience. Cosmetic, rather than reconstructive, surgery is the order of the day, with a focus, as always, on customer convenience.”
As an extension to the project, BDRC assessed hotels’ compliance with rate parity by comparing the prices displayed on two major OTAs with those available on the hotels’ own websites. Twelve out of the 21 hotels checked against Laterooms.com showed equal prices. For Booking.com, that was true for 13 out of 23 hotels.
Hotels were also telephoned four times each to seek a better price for booking directly, with one in five attempts proving successful.