European travel bookers are resisting the switch to booking on mobile although they are using devices for research, according to Phocuswright research.
Last week’s Phocuswright Europe event in Amsterdam heard almost a decade after the launch of the iPhone that European travellers are embracing digital channels faster than in any other region of the world.
Smartphone ownership continues to rise with Germany ahead of the UK and France. In 2016 49% of travel commerce in Europe was conducted online.
Brandie Wright, a Phocuswright analyst, said the top travel related activities online are all search related. “There’s a lot of searching and shopping but not so much purchasing taking place because travellers are still turning to desktop to book.”
Phocuswright research indicates 85% of people book using a desktop computer or laptop.
The study found 55% of smartphone users have at least one travel app on their phone with OTAs the most popular type of app. Younger travellers aged 18 to 24 were found to be one and a half times more likely you to have a travel app than those aged 55 plus.
Wright said apps are preferred to the mobile web due to their ease of use and for brands they offer ‘stickiness’ and loyalty.
“It’s not wise for travel brands to overlook the power mobile has,” said Wright. However, she said for travellers who go away just once or twice a year it does not make sense to use up valuable phone screen real estate by downloading travel apps. A high proportion of mobile usage is on social platforms, which travellers turn to for inspiration and recommendations. Facebook leads the way but more visual platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest are on the rise, said Wright.
Again younger people are more likely to use these social platforms that those who are 55 plus.
Reviews continue to hold sway for influence and are more powerful than pictures and videos from brands and friends.
Younger travellers are also the most active users of messaging apps. Half of users are comfortable using chat apps to compare flights and hotels but they are less popular for booking, Phocuswright found.