ITB 2015: Travel apps fail to grab mobile users, research finds

ITB 2015: Travel apps fail to grab mobile users, research finds

Travel consumers show little interest in using mobile apps despite the surge in mobile travel search, according to latest research.

Online travel market research firm Phocuswright declared the use of apps by European travellers as “light” following a study of the mobile use of 1,000 travelling consumers.

The research monitored the mobile web activity of 1,000 mobile-using travellers for a month.

Marcello Gasdia, consumer research director of Phocuswright, concluded: “The reach of apps wasn’t as high as we expected.”

App use comprised two-thirds of the study respondents mobile web activity, with the typical user opening apps 25 times a day and spending an average two hours six minutes running an app in the foreground of their phone.

But speaking at German trade show ITB in Berlin, Gasdia said: “Two-thirds of the app time was spent on email, social media and gaming. The uptake of travel apps was light.”

He described the idea that apps are taking over the internet as “an illusion.”

The study found travel apps took up just 1% of the time travel consumers spent on mobile apps and that use of mobile web browsers was higher.

Gasdia said: “The mobile web is thriving. Travellers may be spending a lot of time on apps, but not for travel.”

“The majority are only active on five to eight apps a day. The average traveller only takes two or three trips a year.

“There is not much incentive to download five to ten apps and keep them updated.”

He added: “We did not see any evidence of app users being more engaged [than web visitors].”

Gasdia identified TripAdvisor as among the top travel brands engaged with on mobile and said: “13% used a TripAdvisor app but 18% visited via the mobile web. Only 38% of TripAdvisor mobile visitors were app only.”

Similarly, 11% used the app of an online travel agency (OTA) but 19% visited the same OTAs via the mobile web.

The greatest app use for travel was of airline apps. Gasdia said: “People were using airline apps to check in or track their flight.”

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