Travellers' complicated relationship with mobile bookings

Travellers still aren't buying holidays on their mobile devices, new research suggests.

The question is: is it a case of travellers preferring devices with larger screens or are brands not doing enough with their mobile websites to encourage people to transition from desktop to mobile?...

It's probably a bit of both.

The latest research by Abta found mobile phones were less popular for booking than they were a year ago, with 13% of people saying they had done so, down from 16% in 2015.

The desktop computer remains the go-to device for booking holidays online, with 92% of consumers having used one to book a trip, while 23% said they have used a tablet.

Unsurprisingly, people aged 25-34 were the least likely to use a desktop computer – but the most likely to use a tablet, with 37% of respondents in the age group having done so.

People's preference for the desktop computer seems to stem from ease of use – they simply find the task of booking a holiday easier on a desktop monitor than they do on a five-inch mobile screen.

More than three-quarters (80%) of the nearly 2,000 respondents surveyed said they found it easy to book via a desktop computer, compared to 54% by tablet and 45% by mobile phone.

Victoria Bacon, Abta director of brand and business development, suggested that customer-unfriendly mobile booking engines could be to blame for consumers continuing to transition across to their desktops to purchase a holiday.

"Mobiles are important to consumers during the research stage, but when it comes to booking, the mobile is clearly still lagging a long way behind the PC, and to a lesser extent tablets," she said.

There is now a clear preference among travellers for booking online: 76% of respondents said they preferred to book online, up from 69% last year. People aged 45-54 and those with older children were the groups most likely to book a holiday online with four out of five (82%) doing so.

Compare that to the fifth who said they booked in-store and a 21% who booked by phone.

Bacon adds that it could just be the case that consumers tend to prefer devices with larger screens when they're paying larger sums of money – but why is this seemingly the case?

More to the matter, should we mind that travellers are baulking at the booking page when on their mobile?

Absolutely. Accepting that consumers will not see their purchase through on their mobile is a risk. There's the risk that they will not open your website when they eventually load up their desktop computers. They might decide that they're actually going to go with one of your competitors instead. So near, yet so far.

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