Commentary

Mobile Travel Booking Awaiting Take-Off

Travel-Vacation

With peak vacation season upon us, a new study from mobile ad network Mojiva and Insight Express takes a look at travel planning via mobile. The upshot of the survey was that nearly three quarters of (73%) consumers book their travel plans a month or less in advance so it's not too late to target people during the peak summer travel season.

That and other findings were based on a survey of 180 mobile users in the Mojiva network in May and June. That's not the biggest sample size, so draw your own conclusions. The study also found that six in 10 people were open to booking specific trip components -- hotel, flights, vacation packages -- using a mobile device. And the biggest chunk of those surveyed -- 43% -- said they would feel most comfortable spending $200 or less when booking travel through mobile gadgets.

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When it comes to travel, $200 doesn't buy much, though. Forget about staying overnight at a major hotel in just about any world capital. Maybe a short domestic flight, or a rental car for a week or less? In short, less than half of mobile users would be willing to book through mobile and those that do won't be spending a lot through the channel.

Even so, a hotel is the most likely kind of travel-related booking people would make on a mobile device. More than four in 10 (42%) would book a room but a similar proportion (39%) said they wouldn't consider any kind of travel expense including car rental, cruise or guided tour.

The study didn't distinguish between booking for leisure and business travel.

About three-quarters of survey participants owned a smartphone, 44% had a laptop computer, 10% an iPad and 9% an Android tablet. In terms of demographics, the gender split was 60/40 in favor of women; more than half (55%) were between 26 and 45; and about half had less than $40,000 in household income.

Asked about what kind of call-to-action they might respond to in a mobile ad, the most popular response was browse a Web site (65%), followed by play a game (52%) and download an application (49%).

In order to capitalize on growing mobile use, Expedia this spring launched new hotel-booking apps for the iPhone and Android devices and upgraded the hotel shopping capability on its mobile Web site. In April, Expedia said about 5% of its customers preferred to book trips through mobile.

That figure and the Mojiva research shows m-commerce still has a long way to go when it comes to travel. As people become more comfortable with buying on their devices, travel should benefit along with other industry categories. But so far the natural affinity between travel and mobile technology doesn't seem to translate into as much m-commerce activity as one might assume.

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