Smartphones are expected to become a significant transactional channel for travel as customers become more comfortable using mobile devices for purchases as well as research.
Global online travel sales accounted for $589 billion in 2013, amounting to a quarter of all travel and tourism sales, according to the latest Euromonitor research.
Online sales are expected to increase faster than the total travel industry, growing 10% year on year and reaching $827 billion in three year’s time.
By 2017, 45% of the world’s population or 3.3 billion people will be internet users, with smartphones the most popular way of getting online.
Euromonitor also noted some changes to consumer behaviour as a result of the proliferation of devices and wider internet penetration.
It suggests that “online and mobile developments have enabled [consumers] to increasingly bypass traditional distribution, which has helped to drive growth in new business models and, particularly, peer-to-peer”.
The dominance of portable devices over fixed-line computers for internet access has led to the emergence of multi-screen consumer.
Euromonitor refers to Google research which identifies sequential and simultaneous usage trends.
“In the case of sequential usage, smartphones are generally the starting point for consumers, who then move to PC, tablet or TV to continue their search for information on travel destinations and services, and possibly make their travel bookings.
“In the case of simultaneous usage, consumers will typically make a search on brands watched in TD advertisements through their smartphone or tablet,” Euromonitor said as part of a study produced for the latest WTM Vision conference.
World Travel Market senior director Simon Press said: “The evidence is overwhelming. As the internet population grows and the adoption of devices increases, significant new consumer trends are emerging.”