In the words of that poet emeritus of 60s folk-rock, Bob Dylan: “The times, they are a-changin’.” And nowhere are they a-changin’ more radically and more rapidly for travelers than in mobile technology. Among American adults who have booked travel in any environment, nearly one in five (18 percent) have done so using a mobile device. This according to a survey from discount travel site

Additionally, the results reveal that younger adults (not of Bob Dylan’s generation) are significantly more likely to book travel on mobile devices – 37 percent of adults ages 18-34 and 25 percent of adults ages 35-44.

“Mobile purchasing has become an increasingly large trend in travel, given that more than half of Americans now own smartphones,” said Henrik Kjellberg, president of the Hotwire Group. “So, I see the 18 percent as the tip of the iceberg in terms of mobile travel booking, considering players in the space are continuing to optimize their sites and products for the mobile booker.”

Hotwire says it experienced a 60 percent year-over-year increase in mobile bookings for the first nine months of 2013. Another popular accommodations site,, reports even more remarkable growth in mobile.


Recent figures from showed the total transaction value of mobile accommodation bookings in 2011 was $1 billion in mobile bookings. In 2012, that number more than doubled to over $3 billion, and in 2013 the total more than doubled again to over $8 billion.

That’s an increase of over 160 percent in a year.

New Kid on the Block
Now stand by for even more astounding news from the world of mobile commerce: There’s a new kid on the block. According to a recent survey from the Pew Research Internet Project, over half of adult Americans (55 percent) have a smartphone, while just over a third (42 percent) own a tablet device.

But although tablets have a smaller market share, they are playing an increasingly important role in mobile conversions. A report from Business Insider indicates that tablets are drawing even with smartphones, accounting for half of US retail sales completed on mobile devices.

As mobile tablet penetration continues to rise from that 35 percent level (some research indicates it has already crested the 45-percent mark since the Pew study in December), the impact on retail shopping habits – particularly last-minute travel purchases – will become even more pronounced.

Experts speculate that there are a combination of factors that are making tablets the device of choice for closing the deal with travelers. To begin with, according to Pew, most tablets users are in their thirties and forties with an above-average income.

Many tablet users seem to regard the devices as better suited for researching best price or looking for specific product details. But beyond that, tablet shoppers are also more comfortable completing the purchase on the tablet in the same browsing session. This may be because users find the tablet experience closer to familiar web browsing as opposed to a native app.

Whatever the device du jour, it’s certain that completing last-minute travel purchases via mobile is going deeper than just hitting the “Buy Now” button. “We’re seeing a shift in consumer behavior from simply booking last minute accommodations on mobile devices to planning, researching, booking and utilizing post booking functionality on our mobile platforms,” says CMO Paul Hennessy.

Even as the experience deepens, it’s also getting broader, as more providers are spreading out into a wider range of product offerings. Recently, Cvent, famous as a cloud-based enterprise event management platform, announced the launch of something they call an Audience Management Platform (AMP). The platform, which is sold through Cvent’s CrowdTorch, integrates online and box office ticketing, mobile apps, custom websites, social marketing and fan engagement and insight tools. Through it, consumers can score tickets to comedy clubs, nightclubs and sporting events.

“Cvent has had tremendous success with its event management platform for corporate events, and we recognized an opportunity to provide a similar platform for consumer-focused events,” says Nitin Malhotra, vice president of corporate development at Cvent. “We’re bringing together ticketing, mobile apps, digital and social marketing, fan engagement, and customer analytics in one integrated solution under our CrowdTorch brand.”

So indeed, the times, they are a-changin’. And as the song goes, “You’d better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone.”

More Tech News

AirPlus Offers Company Account
On MasterCard Network in US
AirPlus International has announced the launch of its Company Account on the MasterCard network. The central bill solution will provide the same functionality as the product that previously ran on the UATP network. The Company Account on the MasterCard network, which was developed in coordination with AirPlus’ US strategic bank partner, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., was designed for large, US-based multinational enterprises.

“This solution offers key advantages for both the travel manager and the traveler,” said Volker Huber, president, Americas, AirPlus International. “Firstly, it utilizes AirPlus’ comprehensive reconciliation process, saving program administrators’ time and reducing the risk of errors. Secondly, it eliminates the need for travelers to file their big-ticket items – air, rail, hotel, car rental – on their expense reports, cutting down on time, and limiting the amount of credit they carry on their individual corporate cards.”

The centralized billing product will be available in 2014 to US-based clients of the J.P. Morgan – AirPlus strategic partnership, pending successful end-to-end testing and a pilot program.

Boingo Hotspot 2.0 Takes Off at 21 US Airports
Boingo Wireless has launched Hotspot 2.0 networks at 21 airports in the United States, providing seamless access to a secure WiFi network for monthly subscribers and roaming partners.

The launch adds a new Passpoint-enabled network – “Passpoint Secure” –providing instant access to users on iOS 7 devices with a Passpoint profile installed. Passpoint-certified mobile devices – such as smartphones and tablets – can automatically and seamlessly identify and authenticate to Passpoint-enabled hotspots associated with their WiFi provider without the need for login pages.

Boingo monthly subscribers will receive an invitation to download a Passpoint Secure profile that provides automatic login to secure Boingo networks at no additional cost.

The 21 airports include seven of the top 20 busiest airports in the United States and key airports in all regions of the country. They are:
• Austin - Bergstrom Int’l. (AUS)
• Baltimore - Washington Int’l (BWI)
• Buffalo Niagara Int’l. (BUF)
• Burbank - Bob Hope Int’l. (BUR)
• Chicago - Midway Int’l. (MDW)
• Chicago - O'Hare Int’l. (ORD)
• Detroit - Metropolitan Wayne  County (DTW)
• Los Angeles Int’l. (LAX)
• Louisville Int’l. Airport (SDF)
• Memphis Int’l. (MEM)
• Milwaukee - General Mitchell International (MKE)
• Minneapolis-St. Paul Int’l. (MSP)
• Nashville Int’l. (BNA)
• New York - John F. Kennedy International (JFK)
• New York - La Guardia Int’l. (LGA)
• New York - Stewart Int’l. (SWF)
• Newark Liberty Int’l. (EWR)
• Oakland Int’l. OAK)
• Oklahoma City - Will Rogers International (OKC)
• Omaha - Eppley Airfield (OMA)
• Providence - Theodore Francis Green Memorial State Airport (PVD)

GroundLink Reveals Redesigned Website
GroundLink, the technology-based car service, has launched its redesigned website, The website offers a seamless booking process for all travelers and a central dashboard that lets travel arrangers manage their ground transportation program.

The website provides a complete set of tools that allows the travel arranger to help track and manage ground spend and travelers. Leveraging a web-based central dashboard, lets account administrators track all ground travel activity including upcoming and completed rides, a breakdown of the account’s top passengers and the account’s overall ground transportation spend.

For the traveler, the new design presents an even further evolved seamless booking process. In addition to the current flight tracking, the 30 minute complimentary grace period for domestic flights (and 60 minute grace period for international flights), GroundLink's new site allows travelers the ability to adjust when they want to be picked up.
GroundLink users can book via website, phone or with a few taps on a smart phone via mobile app.

KLM Customers Can Pay Via Facebook and Twitter
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has developed an innovative method of online payment which enables customers to pay via social media sites. Customers are already able to use Facebook or Twitter to book or rebook a flight, make a seat reservation or to arrange extra baggage, but payment had to be made over the telephone. Now customers can now pay through these social media channels as well.  

With this new method, contact with the customer takes place exclusively through the social media channel they have used. KLM sends a link to the customer in a private message on Facebook or Twitter. The customer can then select their preferred method of payment and complete the transaction. The social media service agent at KLM then receives a message to say that payment has been received and the customer in turn receives confirmation of the payment.

Marriott Introduces Mobile Checkout
Marriott Hotels, the flagship brand of Marriott International, is rolling out mobile checkout, a new feature that accompanies mobile check-in on the popular Marriott Mobile App.

The new mobile service is available exclusively for Marriott Rewards members. As early as 4:00 AM on the day of departure, Marriott Rewards guests will be notified on their smartphone that mobile check-out is available. Guests will be prompted to provide an e-mail address to receive their bill, leave their room keys in their guestroom, and simply bypass the checkout line on their way out.

Later this year, the entire Marriott Hotels brand – all 500 properties worldwide – will offer mobile check-in and checkout, available in English, Chinese, French, Spanish and German. The Marriott Mobile app can be downloaded in the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play.