‘Mobile first’ has become a universally accepted assumption for the way consumers search and book hotel rooms, but it is not a universal truth

18 October, 2019

Hospitality solutions provider Avvio launched Allora – the world’s first hotel booking engine powered by machine learning – two years ago this month, a period that has allowed it to put together some valuable insights into consumer behaviours that offers hotel businesses with practical advice in designing and implementing digital marketing strategies.

Over that period Allora has profiled 56 million unique guests and says it has gained insight from running over 600,000 artificial intelligence-based trials which have subsequently led to the adoption of almost 2,000 active learned improvements to benefit hotels in attracting more direct guest bookings.

The biggest and perhaps most surprising among these is that adopting a ‘mobile first’ strategy in the hotel sector might not be the best strategy. One of the key learnings shows that ‘mobile first’, which has become a universally accepted assumption into the way consumers search and book hotel rooms, is not a universal truth.

This, it says, is markedly shown in US guest behaviour where 82% of website bookings for four-star hotels in London are made from a desktop device. There has been little change in the past two years and mobile device bookings are still not seeing growth. However, the same cannot be said when looking at booking patterns of European guests with UK and Irish consumers following the recognised consumer trend for mobile first.

Allora’s insights show that in Jun-2018 mobile device bookings overtook desktop bookings for Irish guests for the first time and the gap has widened since then with 52% of the domestic bookings for Irish hotels now booked on a mobile device versus a declining 38% on desktop in the period up to Aug-2019.

The ‘intelligent’ booking engine has also provided significant insight into the time it takes guests to book. Geography has again been identified as a major factor when it comes to the length of time from first web visit to the actual booking.

The number of days taken to make a booking at a UK hotel is 3.3 days for a UK-based guest and 2.5 days for a US guest. However, Allora has shown that Ireland-based guests take on average just over seven days to make a booking in their home country and almost six days to make a UK booking.

Commenting on the data and how hotels can best utilise the insights to their advantage, Avvio CEO Frank Reeves said: “This data matters because it means we should not be adopting a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to developing digital marketing strategies, particularly if you are a hotel business which routinely attract guests from different countries."

“While this may mean adopting different marketing strategies, Allora shows us that this delivers tangible returns in increased bookings in this highly competitive market,” he added.

The company – which works with hotels and accommodation providers to develop tailored digital strategies designed to drive direct bookings – has seen its sales double in the first half of this financial year in comparison with the same period the year before. In Europe, Avvio achieved record growth in the company’s second quarter of 2019 and has also demonstrated consistent expansion throughout North America.