Online booking surges in emerging markets

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Online booking revenue last year increased 9.2%, three times the rate of growth in travel spending, as more consumers in developing countries flocked to online travel agencies, research firm PhoCusWright said in a report.

Online bookings surged 25% in Eastern Europe, 24% in the Middle East and 13% in Latin America.

In the U.S., where 42% of travel bookings are transacted on the Internet, online bookings rose 7% in 2013. The U.S. and Europe account for about two-thirds of online travel bookings worldwide.

“From the perspective of growth opportunity, a clear distinction differentiates mature online markets such as the U.S. and Europe from the emerging markets of Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America,” wrote report authors Lorraine Sileo and David Juman in the 26-page study.

“Improved technology infrastructure, discretionary spending and credit card adoption, along with a slew of new online travel services, are enabling consumers in developing countries to plan and book their travel on computers, tablets and smartphones.”

PhoCusWright forecasts that Eastern Europe and Middle East will have online booking growth rates of between 20% and 25% for 2014 and 2015, while U.S. online bookings will rise 6% for this year and next.

Meanwhile, substantially more Americans will use smartphones and tablet computers as their primary booking devices during the next few years, PhoCusWright said.

By next year, mobile devices will account for 27% of U.S. online bookings, up from 10% in 2013. Mobile will account for 20% of online bookings in both Asia-Pacific and Europe next year, PhoCusWright forecasted.

(PhoCusWright is a subsidiary of Northstar Travel Media, parent of Travel Weekly.)
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Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly. 

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