Online travel buyers in Europe and the US are “clinging” to their desktop booking habits while emerging markets are going straight to mobile.
Research from Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN) and Phocuswright has pinpointed the trend and concluded that travel companies need to move faster meet mobile booking preferences.
The report shows that in the most mature online markets, including Europe and the US, travellers are searching and shopping on mobile, but holding onto “entrenched” desktop habits. It estimates that 90% of US travel gross bookings will not be booked on mobile in 2017.
In China, mobile had a 53% share of online travel bookings in 2016 versus 21% in the US and 25% in the UK. In less mature online markets such as India, Indonesia and Brazil, where there is no ingrained habit of booking on desktop, EAN predicted that mobile will overtake desktop more quickly than in the US and Europe.
With more young travellers entering the travel pool, the reports suggests smartphones will play a growing role in travel planning and purchasing in the future. It found that 34% of Germans who used smartphones to shop for travel in 2016 were 18-24 years old, while only 8% of over 45s did.
Ariane Gorin, senior vice president and general manager, EAN brand, said: “It’s clear that mobile is an area ripe for growth globally. Messaging, voice search and AI will drive a new wave of mobile innovation and result in big mobile gains for those companies which embrace the shift.
“More young travellers entering the booking pool will ensure that smartphones will play a growing role in the future of travel planning and purchasing. For travel providers, it is crucial to be present on mobile from the early stages of the booking process – this is where young people will be inspired, do their research and plan their trips.
“At EAN, we work closely with our partners to provide them with the building blocks to grow their online customer experience. Our APIs enable our partners to keep ahead of the curve with the development of their mobile search and booking technology.”
The findings were presented by Phocuswright and Expedia Affiliate Network in the insight report: 2017 Phocus Forward: The Year Ahead in Digital Travel
The report also found:
• In 2017, online travel will see the fastest growth in emerging markets: the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Global online travel bookings in 2017 are predicted to be $567bn versus $513bn in 2016.
• Chat and Voice are the new traveller medium, but book-by-chat is in its infancy; chat-powered customer service will become integral to travel planning.
• In-destination activities are a huge untapped opportunity; the long-tail of providers are finding their way into the global digital travel ecosystem and becoming a priority for travel’s biggest players.
• Airlines are showing renewed focus on online distribution and digital retailing for business and leisure travellers; the world’s fastest-growing region APAC remains underpenetrated for online bookings.