When the first smartphone was released, way back in 2000, many predicted its eventual establishment as a fixture into our everyday lives. Clairvoyants of the tech world theorized how it would shape the face of society, spawn entirely new industries, connect & divide humanity.
But few seem to have foreseen an unexpected side effect of our mobile-driven world, one that now seems obvious: the rise of the “last-minute culture”.
A term referring to how we make plans and schedule appointments, last-minute culture has arisen from the ultimate convenience and accessibility mobile devices have granted us. In the past, meeting a friend for dinner or scheduling an appointment with the barber was a rock-solid commitment—nobody had a device that allowed you to contact them anytime, anywhere.
Who needs long-term plans when you can book anywhere, anytime? (Source)
With the smartphone, plans are mercurial, malleable. It’s so easy to flake or reschedule, that it seems like most people aren’t making long-term plans at all. You can hit the town at 10 PM after figuring out what bar to go at 9:59. I can find a barber in Chicago that’s free to cut my hair in an hour. And if I feel like putting it off, I’ll just do it again tomorrow.
What’s most interesting about last-minute culture is that it’s created a sort of feedback loop—we now expect our on-the-go devices to serve the last-minute philosophy, to fuel our fickle fires.
That’s the driving force behind the rise of mobile booking, the act of using your phone to schedule appointments, set meetings, or make reservations. It’s a rapidly growing phenomenon and it does not discriminate—it’s prevalent across all sectors and fields.
There are few industries that have reaped the benefits of mobile booking quite like the travel sector. Since 2014, online travel agencies, hotels, rental car companies, and other players in the travel industry have enjoyed a gradual, yet significant, increase in mobile bookings.
Much of it can be attributed to our last-minute culture too—sixty-five percent of same-day hotel reservations are made from a smartphone.
Travel suppliers are recognizing this trend and adjusting their mobile presences accordingly. Many hire app development agencies to create a mobile platform that prioritizes and streamlines the booking process, further facilitating their customers ability to reserve on-the-go.
And I do mean all travel suppliers—even markets that are somewhat tangential to the travel industry, like shipping or apartment real estate, have seen customers doing business over the phone, not the desktop.
An industry formerly known for its reluctance to adopt modern technology, banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions have now embraced the idea of managing money on a smartphone or tablet.
Nowadays, many banks offer mobile solutions that enable account holders to use their devices for performing essential banking functions, including scheduling appointments. The chart below displays the prominence of mobile banking, especially among millennials.
While banks have surrendered some of their operations to the smartphone, this doesn’t mean their brick-and-mortar presence is going to collapse anytime soon. Consumers will still need to interface with financial institution employees for more complex monetary matters, and it’s more than likely they’ll be using their bank’s mobile app to set up the appointment.
Most of the mobile booking applications discussed thus far have related to enterprise companies—established players in the travel industry, or the enormous, intricate network of major financial institutions.
But the myth that only Fortune 500 companies can have an effective mobile presence is just that: a myth. Small businesses in the service industry like barbers, tattoo artists, manicurists— anything that requires an appointment—can benefit by offering a seamless mobile booking feature.
Consumers turn to their phones when exploring small businesses (Source)
While this obviously benefits the customer, companies offering this functionality also profit. A mobile booking feature allows business owners to follow up with their clients post-appointment and collect feedback, garnering valuable customer data.
In addition to insightful customer reviews, small businesses with a mobile booking feature also drastically limit their amount of no-shows, just by sending automated reminders before the appointment. And if a customer does have to cancel, a business owner can know instantly, and adjust their resources or workflow accordingly.
The prevalence of mobile booking in everyday life heralds our transition to a mobile-driven world. It has impacted how we approach appointments and engagements—what was once considered hard commitments are now changeable at the tap of a screen. What would once take days of forethought planning can now be accomplished in seconds.
In retrospect, I suppose the term “last minute culture” evokes a sense of laziness, or unaccountability. But rather, what you should be associating it with is power, and how your business can channel that to its advantage.
Whether you go through an app development company or not, leveraging this trend begins by offering a mobile platform that caters to your customers philosophy—booking on-the-go, on-demand, or even last-minute.