U.S. Consumers Increasingly Rely on Smartphones to Book Travel

by Barbara Peterson
U.S. Consumers Increasingly Rely on Smartphones to Book Travel

While 61 percent of U.S. travelers book and pay for their trips using their smartphones, nearly 100 percent of consumers in China do the same. Photo: Shutterstock

U.S. travelers are growing more dependent on their smartphones for all aspects of travel, with 61 percent of consumers in the U.S. booking and paying for their trips through mobile devices in the past year, according to a new survey from Travelport.

The poll, released at the recent Phocuswright travel technology conference in Los Angeles, also showed that 62 percent of those surveyed use social media posts from friends and family to research leisure trips, and 32 percent use them to share post-trip feedback.

Travelport’s 16,000 travelers in 25 countries. And, while the U.S. results show a strong trend towards increased reliance on mobile devices, other parts of the world – notably China and India – are even more wedded to their smartphones, with nearly 100 percent of survey respondents in China reporting they use mobile devices to book travel, according to the company.

Simon Ferguson, president and managing director of Travelport Americas, noted that U.S. consumers also are “rapidly embracing” new travel technologies like Touch IT for payments and voice search. “Our research highlights a clear opportunity to engage U.S. travelers with enhanced features on mobile apps,” he said.  

Full-service travel agencies should not view the emergence of these technologies as a threat, but, rather, as an opportunity, Ferguson told Travel Market Report. Agencies are increasingly giving clients the ability to stay in touch during their travels via social media, or through an app on their mobile devices, he pointed out.  Almost half of travelers surveyed from the U.S. said they would like to be able to live chat with a travel representative during their journeys, he noted.

Among the key findings, Ferguson said:

  • 61 percent of travelers in the U.S. have booked and paid for travel through their smartphone within the past year, and 64 percent use their smartphones en route to their destination.
  • S. leisure travelers use an average of seven or eight apps during their trip research, with maps (52 percent), weather (51 percent) and branded airlines (50 percent) topping the list.
  • The three most important features identified in their travel apps are real-time flight alerts throughout their journeys (65 percent); being able to see an entire trip itinerary in one place (64 percent); and the ability to search and book flights (63 percent).

Customers also want to use their devices to add extras on the trip; and increasingly want to be able to pay using Apple/Android pay (Touch ID) within their travel apps, the survey showed.

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