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Could Better Prices Fuel the Mobile Travel Booking Boom?

More businesses are offering or planning to offer mobile capabilities this year

As online bookings become the norm, the travel industry is focusing on the next channel—mobile. eMarketer estimates that mobile travel bookings are beginning to boom, with US mobile travel sales, including travel purchases on both tablets and smartphones, expected to increase 59.8% this year to reach $26.14 billion. On top of that, we expect the number of mobile travel bookers in the US to grow 27.5% in 2014 to hit 33.5 million consumers.

However, TripAdvisor’s “TripBarometer 2014” study, conducted by Ipsos MORI, found that mobile still had a long way to go when it came to winning over travelers, with just 4% of travelers polled worldwide saying they had booked their last trip via mobile, compared with 66% who did so online.

Results suggested that lower prices and special offers may help fuel mobile booking uptake, with “bargain hunters” more likely to have booked through mobile. Among travelers worldwide who had booked their last trip via mobile, a better price was the leading reason, cited by 28%. And while just 16% said they had used a mobile channel to make accommodations for their last trip because of special offers, this was higher than those who said the same for offline or online booking.

eMarketer believes that increased mobile penetration is pushing travel companies to develop better, easier mobile booking experiences, and the majority of accommodation owners polled by TripAdvisor had recognized consumer demand for mobile, with just one-fifth offering nothing. More businesses were doing so than in previous “TripBarometer” studies, and even more were planning on offering new mobile capabilities this year.

Website-related mobile activities were the most popular mobile capabilities offered to guests by accommodation owners worldwide, with 45% allowing guests to book rooms on their sites on a mobile device and 38% reporting having mobile-friendly versions. Though mobile travel bookers indicated that better pricing was a main reason for making reservations via such a device, accommodation owners had not caught on. Just 10% made special offers available to mobile device users.

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