More Travel Booking Going Mobile

Speaking at the Mobile Insider Summit last month, Megan Hughes, director of product, mobile at Orbitz, noted that a third of the travel site’s hotel bookings now take place via mobile compared to only 3% four years ago. That was among the trends she highlighted that show how the consumer mobile shift is affecting Orbitz, and major travel sites as a whole.

New research from retargeting ad platform Criteo provides further indications that mobile is playing a growing role in the travel booking process. The firm based its findings on first-party transaction data from 1,000 travel sites in the first half of 2014. These include travel suppliers as well as online travel agencies (OTAs) that work with Criteo.

The firm’s analysis spanned 300 million bookings and over $150 billion in transactions. Criteo used its AD-X tracking technology to determined click-through rates and resulting conversions.

During the period, Criteo found a 20% increase in mobile bookings compared to only 2% on the desktop. About 21% of hotel bookings were made on a smartphone or tablet, with 15% of air travel and 13% of car rental bookings handled via mobile as well.

When it comes to vacation packages -- the most lucrative type of travel booking -- desktop computers still lead the way. But the study found the value of bookings for other types of travel purchases, like car rentals and cruises, was not significantly different across desktop, the iPhone, iPad or Android devices. And Android devices had higher average bookings than the other three options.

The study showed that the average booking for air was 21% higher on mobile than desktop, and 13% higher for auto rentals. This reflects the pattern that last-minute bookings tend to take place more often in mobile, and are typically more costly than those made further in advance. 

This is mostly because a large share of mobile bookings are made on the same day, and unlike week-long vacation bookings (or flights), last-minute hotel stays tend to be shorter and of lower value,” stated the report. Similarly, Orbitz found that 65% of hotel bookings via mobile are last-minute versus only 15% on the desktop. 

"Businessman at Airport with Mobile phone" photo form Shutterstock.

2 comments about "More Travel Booking Going Mobile".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, September 17, 2014 at 7:21 p.m.

    Just another way of looking at the same data. If I can be so bold as to assume that hotel, air travel and car rental bookings on a mobile device are about equal, then mobile bookings were around 16% of the 300m booking analysed (the rounded average of 21%, 15% and 13%). This means that the split was something like 48m mobile bookings and 252m 'traditional' bookings. The 48m for mobile was a growth of 20% so the prior period was 40m - an absolute growth of 8m. However, the 252m was a growth of just 2% but that was off a base of around 247m - an absolute growth of 5m. Yes there is definitely a trend to mobile bookings as 'last-minute' which is totally logical, but the lesson to marketers is not to be dazzled by large growth figures off a small base at the risk of ignoring core or traditional customer channels. It would be interesting to overlay this with the average profit margin by channel - it is not uncommon for new channels to receive price support that traditional channels don't get, so who knows ... the lower growth of 5m may have returned more profit than the higher growth of 8m. And ... many thanks to Mark for being so open and transparent and sharing his data and experience with us. Cheers.

  2. Susan O from Elegant MicroWeb, December 8, 2014 at 11:26 a.m.

    t is tempting to look at mobile travel bookings as a separate issue for businesses trying to attract and retain customers. In fact, the category of mobile travel bookings is just one more data set for business intelligence analytics. To understand how, when and where your customers access your apps, and the types of products and services they buy during this interaction is critical to business competiveness and the development of new products. Whether a customer is accessing your apps on a mobile device is just one more data point to be analyzed. At ElegantJ BI, we find that businesses with a keen focus on, and grasp of, business analytics want to measure and analyze patterns and trends to identify the exact type of customer, and the exact time and access point , as well as what products and services they should be pushing to that particular customer at that particular time. That takes a good BI tool and an understanding of how business intelligence can help you attract customers - mobile or otherwise!

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