A return to more traditional holiday booking methods is revealed in new research published today (Friday), despite advances in technology.
Booking via telephone or in-store at a travel agency have gone up from 14% in 2015 to 19% in 2018, according to a poll of 2,000 internet users by Mintel.
However, online smartphone bookings have really taken off over the past 12 months for younger travellers.
Some four in ten (39%) millennial holidaymakers used a smartphone to book their last holiday online, up from less than one in five (17%) in 2017.
Usage peaks in the younger millennial group (aged 19-28) where 43% used a smartphone, falling to 36% amongst older millennials (aged 29-38).
But there is no movement amongst older travellers towards smartphone booking. Only 2% of those over age 45 booked their last holiday online via a smartphone, which is unchanged since 2017.
Overall, the majority of British holidaymakers booked their last holiday on a laptop or desktop computer (64%). However, usage of these devices is declining, down from 70% in 2017.
Just under one in five (18%) Britons booked online on a smartphone and 15% online on a tablet.
The study also reveals one in five people (21%) are willing to pay a travel professional an annual fee to help plan and book all their holidays, a figure that rises to more than half (55%) of Brits earning £75,000 or more.
By contrast, seven in ten (69%) holidaymakers say researching and planning holidays is part of the fun.
Mintel senior travel analyst John Worthington said: “The rapid acceleration of mobile booking has taken place exclusively amongst younger travellers.
“After a long period of gradual uptake, mobile holiday distribution now appears to have reached a tipping-point amongst younger generations.
“Brands have steadily optimised their mobile sites and many have launched mobile apps. The trend towards larger, full-screen smartphone display is also helping to drive usage.
“In an effort to reach older consumers, brands need to ensure their mobile channels are fast, de-cluttered and easy to navigate. Consumers will quickly lose patience with sites that are seen to be lagging behind.”
He added: “The majority of holidaymakers enjoy the process of researching and planning their trips, but a significant minority find it tiresome.
“They are most likely to be high earners. This group of time-poor, cash-rich, information-overloaded travellers is likely to respond to a variety of approaches which help to simplify the holiday planning and booking process, including apps and online tools that help streamline the process.
“This could be the trigger for travel companies to re-visit the idea of a high-quality, fully-independent, fee-paying service at the premium end of the holiday market that would take care of the annual planning and booking needs of this group of well-off, time-pressed consumers. Attaching a price to a service, provided it is of proven quality and expertise, could be an effective way of raising consumer perceptions of value.”
The study also found:
• 67% of UK millennial holidaymakers say they have felt inspired to visit a place on holiday after seeing photos/videos on people’s social media feeds
• 55% of UK consumers in households earning £75,000-plus see holiday planning as a hassle
• The ‘Instagrammable’ holiday is here to stay, over four in ten (43%) travellers admit they like to post about their holidays on social media, rising to 67% of 16-24s.
Worthington added: “Films such as the new Mamma Mia! can have an incredible influence on holidaymakers’ destination choice.
“The original film reportedly saw a surge in holiday booking to Greece and now the sequel is likely to have the same effect on bookings to Croatia.
“It’s not just movies which can drive the popularity of a holiday destination; ITV2’s Love Island is likely to see a rise in holiday bookings to Mallorca among younger Brits who are particularly influenced by the power of the small screen.
“But it isn’t always good news for holiday destinations featured in films and on TV. Although locals can profit from large swarms of visitors, destinations run the risk of ‘overtourism’.
“Overcrowded streets and landmarks and a general lack of infrastructure can leave a destination struggling to cope with excessive numbers of tourists.”