Expedia adds mobile-only hotel rates

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Expedia added a mobile-only promotion to its hotel-booking smartphone application in an effort to boost last-minute sales.

Competitor Priceline launched a similar promotion last year.

Expedia said its “mobile exclusive” deals offer discounts as high as 30% for more than 2,000 hotels across North America and Europe.

Expedia, which has about a 40% market share of U.S. travel bookings among online agencies, launched the promotion in conjunction with the release of results of mobile-booking habits among Expedia users.

Expedia found that about 70% of hotel rooms booked via mobile device were for room stays within 24 hours of the booking. Almost 80% of rooms booked were for two- and three-star hotels.

The Expedia promotion reflects the growing popularity of using iPhones, Android phones and iPad tablet computers to research and book.

Some researchers and travel intermediaries have estimated that mobile-based bookings have at least doubled in the past year and will continue to grow rapidly.

By 2015, 90% of U.S. leisure travelers will own a smartphone, up from 54% this year, according to Atmosphere Research.

“Travel companies will differentiate pricing on mobile touchpoints from what they present on their standard websites,” said Henry Harteveldt, principal analyst at Atmosphere Research. “Smartphones create the opportunity of immediacy.”

The Expedia promotion is similar to the “Tonight Only” promotion Priceline debuted last September. That promotion let mobile users get exclusive access to same-day discounts of as much as 35% off of three- and four-star hotel rooms in 34 U.S. cities.

Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly.

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