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By 2016, Most Digital Travel Bookers Will Use Mobile Devices

Travel sales booked via desktop continue to decline

November 19, 2015 | Retail & Ecommerce | Mobile | Travel

It seems Americans don’t mind booking accommodations and airfare on small screens. In 2016, 51.8% of travelers who book trips via digital means will do so using a mobile device, according to eMarketer’s latest estimates of digital and travel research and booking. That will be up from 43.8% this year.

US Mobile Travel Bookers, 2014-2019 (millions, % change and % of digital travel bookers)

Since its Q2 forecast, eMarketer has adjusted its figures upward for smartphone bookers and downward for tablet bookers, as people grow increasingly comfortable booking trips on small-screen devices.

Out of the 48.5 million US adults who book trips via mobile this year, 78.6% (38.1 million) will use a smartphone to do so. Fewer travelers, 31.3 million, will use a tablet to book a trip in 2015—or 64.4% of all mobile travel bookers.

“Hotels, airlines, and online travel sites are better optimizing their websites for mobile bookings. As a result, people are finding a simpler and easier path to purchase and booking their trips right on their devices. This bodes well for the industry as a whole,” said Oscar Orozco, eMarketer forecasting analyst.

US Mobile Travel Bookers, by Device, 2014-2019 (millions and % of mobile travel bookers)

Sales of travel products and services booked on mobile devices continue to grow, while desktop- and laptop-based sales decline in absolute terms. In 2015, travel sales booked via PCs will be $115.91 billion—a decline of 1.8% from 2014. That decline will continue through at least 2019, the end of eMarketer’s forecast period.

While travel sales booked via mobile are smaller, at $52.08 billion this year, the segment will continue to eat away at desktop’s share. Mobile will represent 31.0% of digital travel sales this year. That number will climb to 46.0% by 2019.

US Digital Travel Sales, by Device, 2014-2019 (billions and % change)

Americans are also increasingly researching trips on their mobile devices. This year, 62.6% of Americans who research their travel options digitally will use a mobile device to do so, up 25.9% over last year. By 2016, 73.0% will use a mobile device to research a trip. Again, the smartphone is the device of choice. This year, 91.0% of those who research travel options on mobile devices will use a smartphone to do so, compared with 69.3% who will use a tablet.

eMarketer's forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.

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