Survey finds lag in mobile booking

By Danny King
While U.S. travelers are far more likely to use tablet computers such as Apple’s iPad to research travel than they were a year ago, they remain resistant to using tablets and smartphones to book airline tickets or reserve hotel rooms, PhoCusWright reported in its Travel Technology Trends webinar.

Almost a third of Internet-using travelers polled by PhoCusWright now own a tablet computer, up from just 12% a year earlier. Meanwhile, 64% of those surveyed owned a smartphone, up from 52% in 2011.

That said, mobile devices continue to be used by travelers primarily for research and, to a lesser extent, social media purposes, as opposed to booking.

While more than three-quarters of the nearly 2,000 people polled said they were at least “somewhat” comfortable researching travel on their mobile devices, only 40% felt the same way about making mobile purchases. And just 30% of those surveyed said they had used their mobile device to purchase a travel product during the past 12 months, up from 26% a year earlier. Carroll Rheem

Suppliers and intermediaries such as online travel agencies have been trying to change those numbers by accelerating the pace of new travel-related mobile applications. New mobile apps can pay off because they appeal to the last-minute booker and enable quick sales of unused inventory.

Still, users of such apps will likely remain in the minority for a while.

“Making purchases still meets with more resistance,” PhoCusWright's director of research, Carroll Rheem, said on the Dec. 20 call. “It’s not something that’s instinctive.”

PhoCusWright is a division of Northstar Travel Media, which publishes Travel Weekly.

Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly.
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