Americans are rapidly moving away from desktops and getting comfortable, real comfortable, booking all of their travel reservations on tablets and smartphones. In other words, we’re making our travel plans on mobile devices, not desktops and laptops.
For the first six months of 2014, over 40 percent of Americans booked travel reservations — flights, hotels, cruises, for example — on mobile devices, up more than 20 percent for the same period last year, according to Criteo’s new Travel Flash Report. Criteo is Paris-based with offices in New York and the Bay Area.
The criteria for the report was based on an analysis of 300 million mobile bookings accounting for about $150 billion. Criteo, a virtual brand retargeter that helps clients retain customers in marketing campaigns, also queried over 1,000 of their clients, many of whom reside in the online travel ecosystem, for example, like Expedia and Hotels.com.
“When you think about usage right now, and you’re sitting at home on an iPad or Android, it’s a leisure act. Laptops are more task based. People use laptops to really think about making the purchase. But more are doing it on mobile,” Jason Morse, Criteo’s veep for mobile products, told VentureBeat.
“So we’re seeing more booking on tablets and smartphones, and those devices are perfect for it,” Morse said.
By comparison, bookings through laptops or the Web stood at a measly 12 percent.
The Travel Flash Report is relatively comprehensive. Other findings indicate that mobile devices — smartphones and tablets — now account for 21 percent of hotel bookings. Peer-to-peer apartment rentals booked through mobile is now 34 percent globally, not just in the States.
In fact, according to the report, mobile bookings are increasing at astonishing rates in every travel sector facet, with the exception of hotel reservations. That’s still the domain, for now, of desktops.
There are some interesting data nuggets compiled by Criteo’s forensic researchers. For example, researchers were able to break down travel purchases by device, and discovered that on average, $600 more is spent on packages booked through iPads compared to Android-powered devices.
Conversely, researchers noted that on the issue of flight bookings, Android devices led the pack.
“Mobile is the driving force behind the exponential growth in online travel booking and sales,” Morse said.
With users increasingly relying on mobile devices to do more in their lives (just like Steve Jobs predicted), advertisers are paying close attention to these numbers. And an comprehensive report in the Economist earlier this year put the vast revenue generated by the world’s three biggest online booking sites into context:
“Expedia, which Microsoft sold in 2001, has become the world’s biggest travel agent (see chart). Last year, through brands such as Trivago, Hotels.com and Hotwire, as well as its eponymous operation, its gross bookings were $39.4 billion. The third-largest travel agent is also an online firm: Priceline, whose brands include Booking.com, made reservations worth $39.2 billion in 2013. Last year online travel agents (OTAs) had combined bookings of $278 billion, according to Euromonitor, a market-research firm.”
Mobile penetration trends in Asia, Latin America, and Europe, mirror, more or less, the mobile numbers in the States. Indeed, Asia has seen a 20 percent growth on those booking through mobile devices. But in Germany, the biggest economy in all of Europe, online booking with a mobile device stood at a paltry 10 percent.
“With smart phones and tablets in nearly every consumer’s hands today, travel marketers need to think strategically about developing a highly effective omni-channel marketing experience. That means ensuring the entire consumer experience – from the ads to shopping carts – is mobile optimized,” Morse said.
Sky’s the limit for increased mobile penetration in the travel sector, just a few months away from the beginning of 2016. And the above numbers, impressive as they are, will likely be dwarfed in the first months of the new year.
“You’re going to see more continued growth in mobile,” pretty much all over the globe, Morse said.