Online, Offline, Mobile: Where are US Travelers Booking?

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Online TravelAre more US travelers booking online? Using mobile devices? It depends. Age and frequency of travel make a difference. Last year, Boomers travelled more than other age groups, and desktop/laptop bookings saw a slightly greater increase than mobile as a result.

Overall, US online bookings aren’t expected to grow by leaps and bounds in the short-term. In one 2017 Phocuswright report on US online travel the research team writes, “Travel’s shift to online channels has slowed; the US is the most mature market in the world, leaving room only for incremental gains in online share.“ The study found that, as a percentage of the entire US travel market, “online penetration is expected to rise from 45% in 2015 to 49% in 2020.”

Another report this year by Phocuswright takes a look at US consumer travel, both online and offline. They found that 40% of travelers book all their trips online. In terms of mobile booking, even though they note an “overall decline,” they identified groups whose booking habits favor mobile:

  • 44% of 18-24 year olds booked a hotel via a smartphone
  • Those slightly older (25-34) were more likely to book using a tablet
  • 50% of “frequent travelers (6+ trips)” booked their hotel on a smartphone

A Skift Google Consumer Survey of US adults this past summer, concluded “the US… hasn’t reached a tipping point where mobile bookings have overtaken desktop.” Specific to hotel booking habits over the past year they report, “While about 70% of respondents answered, ‘I never book hotels with a smartphone,’ nearly 23%said, ‘Yes, at least once.’”  The survey found Gen Xers (35-54) are more likely to book hotels with a mobile device. According to their findings, 32.2% of men and 25.9% of women in that age group booked a hotel on their smartphone at least once in 12 months.

Online booking may be mature in the US from a market cycle standpoint, but there are areas of opportunity within each demographic group. With another nod to Phocuswright’s reports this year, their US consumer travel report found that of the reasons cited for booking offline “better deals” was the only one that rose from 2015 to 2016. All others, including “wanted personal service” and “better customer service,” decreased. This is good news for the online travel industry.

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