As 2012 draws to a close, it’s interesting to check up on mobile travel stats to see where we stand, and to see if mobile growth has increased as expected.
Travelport has released a new whitepaper about mobile leisure travel and travel agencies that can be mined for some great data. The whitepaper defines mobile travelers two ways. The first are the ‘Digital Natives’, who are 35 years old or younger and are fluent in technology; who have blended their online and offline lives to the point where they automatically default to technology when making decisions or doing research. These travelers book up to three trips a year.
The second is the ‘Digital Immigrant’—travelers between 35 and 45 years of age who, while not fluent in technology, are increasingly becoming so, and are at least comfortable with it. These travelers book up to two trips a year.
The two groups have much in common. In response to surveys, both expressed a need to own more technology. They both used smartphones to plan trips and make travel decisions, and both demand relevant travel offers and promotions. They equally love tablet computers—63% use tablets, including the iPad, to make travel plans, and according to Expedia and comScore, 34% booked travel, including hotel reservations, from tablets.
They diverge slightly when it comes to smartphones. 87% of ‘Digital Natives’ currently own or plan to own a smartphone (iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, etc.) within the next 6 months. For ‘Digital Immigrants’, this number only drops to 80%.
The next question to answer is: What percentage of all travelers are made up by digital natives and immigrants? As of February, 50%, according to PhoCusWright—and this number has surely increased significantly since then. This means that, at worst, 42% of all leisure travelers, regardless of age and gender, own smartphones and use them to make travel arrangements—56% for business travelers.
When travel related bookings were broken down by Expedia and comScore last August, we find that 17% of hotel bookings are made from tablets and 11% are made from smartphones–making mobile bookings 28% of all hotel bookings worldwide.
This helps data supports Gartner’s prediction that global shipments of notebook computers and PCs will be overcome by smartphones by the end of this year (holiday purchases will probably push smartphones over the top).
The moral of the story, as we have trumpeted here at buuteeq for years, is that travelers are going mobile, and they increasingly have high expectations. They want detailed information right at their fingertips that is easy to digest. They want promotions, deals, add-ons and bargains, quickly communicated to them through a mobile optimized marketing experience. They use smartphones to book travel—both at the last minute as they are standing at the airport waiting for a taxi, and weeks in advance as they sit on the bus on the way to work. Hoteliers and hotel marketers need to make sure their online marketing presence is optimized for mobile, to avoid missing out on what amounts to over 50% of all worldwide leisure and business travelers today.