As most hotels can anecdotally attest, booking windows have become shorter over time. The combination of Covid-related uncertainty, the rise of smartphones, and last-minute booking apps has led to a new subset of guests who book last-minute as opposed to months in advance. In fact, these two consumer segments are dramatically different, and need to be catered to as such.

Selfbook is in a unique position to quantify this trend. With hotel partners live in nearly 20 countries, Selfbook has an inside view into not only booking window trends, but more importantly, the user behavior behind these trends. We sampled 40,000 reservations over the course of 3 months in 2022 to determine which devices people book on and how they are most likely to pay. By understanding these guest behaviors, hoteliers can position themselves to best capture as many bookings as possible.

  • 80%

    same-day bookings made on mobile device

  • 1 in 4

    mobile reservations are paid for using a digital wallet

The Rise of Last Minute Bookings

Industry-wide, hotel room searches containing keywords "today" and "tonight" have skyrocketed by 519% on Google since 2017. Hotels have adapted by offering special promotions for same- and next-day bookings, with Kalibri Labs noting a 2.6% increase in last-minute rates offered.

Despite high consumer interest and updated rates and promotions, a majority of hospitality providers miss out on additional revenue due to poor user experience, particularly on mobile, where conversion rates average around 0.7%, compared to 2.4% on desktop.

Same-Day Bookings are Made on the Move

From Selfbook’s data, more than 80% of same-day bookings were made on a mobile device. In fact, out of all the reservations made on mobile devices, same-day arrivals accounted for 18%, nearly 1 in 5.

Meanwhile, desktop reservations are generally booked much further in advance. 35% of all reservations made on a desktop computer are booked more than a month in advance, compared to only 25% of mobile reservations.

The decision to book a same-day hotel may be an unexpected treat after a night out, something that happens as someone is rushing to or from the airport, or the result of being unsatisfied with one’s present accommodation and checking out in a hurry. The common thread? Guests in these situations will most likely book via mobile.

Mobile Bookings Are Significant Revenue Generators

Mobile bookings are not just one-night stays. Conventional wisdom says that mobile reservations are generally a much shorter length-of-stay than desktop and therefore less important to the hotel’s bottom line. However, Selfbook measured an average mobile length-of-stay at 2.1 nights compared to 2.5 on desktop. With just a 20% difference in stay length, mobile is no longer a segment that hoteliers can afford to ignore, especially as interest in last-minute stays soars.

Digital Wallets Dominate Mobile Bookings

Unsurprisingly, when it comes to digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, users are most likely to use them on a mobile device as part of an entirely seamless experience. More than 1 in 4 reservations made on a mobile device today are paid for using a digital wallet.

Due to the correlation between mobile devices and a shorter booking window, a digital wallet is 30% more likely to be used on a same-day reservation than a credit card. By empowering hotels to accept digital wallets directly on their websites for the first time, Selfbook gives hoteliers a leg up in enticing guests to book direct last-minute.

ADR by Booking Window

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a hotel’s ability to command a premium ADR decreases as the date of arrival approaches. Across all hotels, Selfbook measured that ADR was maximized for those stays which were booked 30+ nights in advance. At about 3 weeks before arrival (19 days) the ADR drop begins, which continues steadily until the day of arrival, where discounts are at their maximum.  Selfbook has quantified that same-day reservations generate an average daily rate nearly 20% lower than a hotel’s average, while those reservations 1-7 days in advance average an 11% discount on desktop and 6% on mobile. Revenue managers, who are already actively discounting rooms to win last-minute guests, can scarcely afford to pay commissions to an OTA.

It's a fact. People who book hotel stays at the last minute have different habits than those planning months in advance. To capture these guests, hotels need to acknowledge the differences and cater to this segment appropriately.

Selfbook's ability to drive last-minute conversions, particularly on mobile, comes down to its user-friendly interface and the modern payment methods it supports. Hotels that take advantage of these e-commerce best practices will remove barriers and be in the best position to capitalize on this rapidly growing consumer segment.