Commentary

What WON'T We Do On Our Smartphones?

Is there anything people won’t do on their phones?

That question is getting harder to answer, since folks appear increasingly content to conduct all manner of business on their little gadgets.

Next year, for example, the majority (51.8%) of travelers who book their trips via digital means will do so using a mobile device, according to new findings from eMarketer. That’s up from 43.8%, this year.

Yes, that includes smartphones and tablets -- but, since the second quarter, eMarketer had to adjust its figures upward for smartphone bookers and downward for tablet bookers, as people grow increasingly comfortable booking trips on small-screen devices.

How does that break down in real numbers? Well, among 48.5 million U.S. adults who will book trips via mobile this year, 78.6% (38.1 million) will use a smartphone to do so.

What’s driving this shift? “Hotels, airlines, and online travel sites are better optimizing their websites for mobile bookings,” according to eMarketer analyst Oscar Orozco. “As a result, people are finding a simpler and easier path to purchase and booking their trips right on their devices.”

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Meanwhile, sales of travel products and services booked on mobile devices continue to grow, while desktop- and laptop-based sales decline in absolute terms.

In 2015, travel sales booked via PCs will be $115.91 billion -- a decline of 1.8% from 2014. That decline should continue through at least 2019, the end of eMarketer's forecast period.

While travel sales booked via mobile are smaller, at $52.08 billion this year, the segment will continue to eat away at desktop's share. Mobile will represent 31.0% of digital travel sales this year. That number will climb to 46.0% by 2019.

Not surprisingly, people are also increasingly researching trips on their mobile devices. This year, 62.6% of U.S. consumers who research their travel options digitally will use a mobile device to do so -- up 25.9% over last year. By 2016, 73% will use a mobile device to research a trip. And we’re talking mostly smartphones here. This year, 91% of those who research travel options on mobile devices will use a smartphone to do so, compared with 69.3% who will use a tablet.

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