Hot on the heels of the launch of Hotels.com iPad app ebookers has unveiled its own, claiming it offers a quicker and more user-friendly interface.
Demonstrating the app to Travolution this morning, ebookers president Tamer Tamar showed how a booking can be made in just three touches.
The app’s interface is organised around a map, with results listed on the left hand side. Ebookers will soon add flights and holiday packages.
Ebookers has also integrated the app into its online ‘magazine’ Explorer, and is hoping its inclusion will increase conversions.
Tamer said: “The difference between this and other iPad apps is it’s the fastest and the simplest. It takes just three taps to complete the bookings.
“Given a lot of business customers want to do their booking quickly, that’s important. I have been able to complete a booking from start to finish in one minute.”
Tamer said the app has been designed to support its “book easier, travel happier” tagline, reflecting customer surveys that found people value customer service and convenience.
Ebookers expects the app to particularly appeal to business travellers for on-the-day reservations which would normally require a telephone call to a travel manager.
However, it also sees leisure customers starting to use it as they migrate from PCs to tablet computers.
“I believe this is going to bring incremental business and leisure customers,” Tamer said.
Among the app’s time-saving measures is an autofill button that allows the user to select details for the hotel booking from the device’s address book.
Hotels can be sorted by the usual factors such as star rating, price and distance, as well as finer details such as children’s facilities.
The app will offer a wide range of hotels, as opposed to a limited number considered to be the most relevant, with the ones that most closely match the search criteria at the top.
“For us the key thing was simplicity. We know from the website what stuff people use most like filters and looking at photographs.
“We do not pre-determine three or four hotels that are right for you. There are hundreds of hotels to scroll through.”
Tamer said Explorer, which creates a bespoke ‘magazine’ based on search criteria by drawing in relevant product information and feeds from Twitter, Flickr and Youtube, had boosted engagement, with an average dwell time of 10 minutes. Ebookers expects that engagement to translate into conversions and increased ROI with the integration of the iPad app’s booking functionality.
Tamer said he has his doubts about whether it is possible to make a functional booking website inspirational. “It’s hard to combine inspiration with bookings and transactions. Is Amazon inspirational? No. Is the Google search engine inspirational? No. You kind of have to choose one or the other,” he said.
The iPad app launch comes during a year in which ebookers has placed a focus on mobile. It claims to have the only mobile site to offer packaged holidays.
Ebookers says it is platform agnostic and will look to develop the iPad app for other devices if they start challenging the dominance of Apple’s tablet.