Travel is one of the world’s largest industries, and it continues to get bigger and bigger. The Internet had a huge impact on the travel industry early on, as consumers swarmed to online travel agencies to find the best prices on flights and hotels, and took to online travel guides to plan their trips in advance. In 2012, online U.S. travel sales surpassed $US100 billion, according to comScore.
Now, mobile is the latest sales channel upending travel, not least because travel pairs so well with mobile devices, allowing travellers to continue and amend their trip-planning once they’ve taken off. Mobile is expected to account for more than 25% of total U.S. online travel bookings by 2015, according to PhoCusWright.
In a new report from BI Intelligence, we look at how the worldwide adoption of smartphones, tablets, and other devices is dramatically changing how we travel — before, during, and after the trip. Players in the travel industry are emphasising mobile as a core component of their business strategies, and working to make their products and services mobile-friendly.
Here are some of the key points from our report on mobile travel:
- Mobile devices are ideal companions for travellers, allowing them to access information, services, and booking while en route. By 2015, mobile will account for one-quarter of U.S. online travel sales, driving $US40 billion in revenue, according to PhoCusWright.
- Tablets are emerging as a power device for completing travel purchases. Tablets accounted for 7% of all online travel bookings globally in the third quarter of 2013, and 11% of all time-spend on travel sites in April 2013.
- These are some of the hottest trends relevant to travel apps: cross-device services and marketing, algorithm-driven personalised local search results, innovative photo features, and the integration of travel information and data into augmented reality apps and wearables.
- But there are significant barriers to overcome before mobile can become a key channel for travel-related research and purchases: bad user experience design, friction that keeps users from completing transactions on mobile, and lack of Wi-Fi and 4G coverage.
- Airlines, hotel chains, and online travel agencies need to stay ahead of the mobile computing curve. Airbnb already sees over a quarter of its traffic from mobile and expects the majority of traffic to come from mobile very soon. The company is actually encouraging this trend.
- Wearables and the car dashboard represent the platforms where mobile travel will thrive next. Expect to see new travel-related apps and features for wearables debuting regularly.
In full, the report:
- Looks at how big the travel market is, and why mobile will continue to take a larger slice of online travel bookings
- Examines which mobile-centric features are going to be most important to travellers, and how businesses are beginning to incorporate these features into their mobile travel services
- Describes how Airbnb and TripAdvisor specifically are gearing up for, and even encouraging, travellers’ transition to mobile devices
- Discusses the pain points that are still holding back mobile usage among travellers, particularly when it comes to making bookings
- Considers what will be next in mobile travel, especially as wearables see much greater uptake and travel apps become a major part of the wearables app ecosystem