NEW YORK: Hilton Worldwide believes the small – but influential – number of mobile-only customers can help provide brands in the accommodation sector with an extremely valuable "glimpse of the future".

Christine Hight, senior director/customer insights at Hilton Worldwide, discussed this subject at the Market Research in the Mobile World (MRMW) conference.

And she asserted that a distinct set of consumers rely solely on smartphones to engage in activities such as researching and booking rooms, finding their hotel at the start of a trip, reviewing their experiences, and so on.

"It's less than 10% of the population, but we really do believe that this is a glimpse of where the future is going to be," she said. (For more, including further insights into consumer device usage, read Warc's exclusive report: Hilton prepares for the mobile future.)

These early adopters, Hilton Worldwide discovered from its research, possess some common characteristics and preferences.

"What's notable here is that they tended to be somewhat younger, but they [also] were more likely to be business travellers returning to a destination," said Hight.

"What does this tell us? People who are comfortable with a mobile device doing all of the work tend to be replicating activities that they've done before for travel.

"So they're comfortable with where they are going and the activities … They also are much more interested in looking at activities at the destination and booking them".

Accessing loyalty and rewards programs – like HHonors operated by Hilton – tended to be popular with this audience, too, offering particular opportunities for companies in the accommodation space.

Such learnings also indicate the value which brands can accrue from gaining a deeper knowledge of mobile mavens.

"Mobile has transformed our lives, and the lives of people who shop for things, including lodging accommodations," said Hight.

Data sourced from Warc