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Mobile Is a Minor Player for UK Travel Researchers and Buyers

Desktops and laptops significantly influence digital travel researching and buying

November 2, 2016 | Travel

Digital channels are hugely influential in the path to purchase for UK travel researchers and buyers. Mobile’s influence, however, is much less marked. For example, August 2016 research conducted by consultancy Arkenford for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) found that 76% of UK internet users had booked holidays digitally in the past 12 months. Of that proportion, though, just 13% had done so via mobile phone—laptops and PCs were used in the vast majority of cases.

Devices Used by UK Internet Users to Book Vacations Digitally, by Age, Aug 2016 (% of respondents in each group)

The study did highlight some clear differences across age groups. For example, respondents ages 55 and older almost completely shuned mobile phones for the practice. Interestingly, though, mobile phones weren’t particularly popular for booking travel among the younger age groups. Only 27% of 25- to 34-year-olds said they used a mobile phone for booking vacations, vs. 84% who used laptops or PCs. Perhaps surprisingly, the youngest respondents in the survey— those ages 18 to 24—were even less likely to use mobiles, with just 19% saying they booked travel via such devices.

October 2016 data from people-based marketing firm Signal, meanwhile, found that researching for travel was slightly more of a mobile pursuit, although laptop and PC use was still much preferred.

Devices/Channels Used by UK Internet Users During the First Stages* of Travel Planning, by Age, Oct 2016 (% of respondents in each group)

The study found that 64% of UK internet users researched holidays or trips on a laptop or desktop computer. Tablet use was some way back, at 21% of respondents, while 15% said they used smartphone browsers and 8% used smartphone apps to do so.

Signal’s survey also found that differing habits across age groups were much more pronounced when researching vacations. Almost half of 18- to 24-year-olds said they looked up travel on their smartphones—31% via a browser and 18% via an app. And among those 55 and older, smartphone use was almost nonexistent.

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