More than 1 in 3 visits to travel websites are now from mobile devices

18 November 2013

The key findings of our Wave 5.5 Mobile Web Browsing Survey conducted across 11 travel websites during October 2013 are:

Mobile web browsing remains on course for 40% penetration by January 2014

While growth since June has slowed to 8%, we fully expect this growth rate to continue or even accelerate once more, following the successful launches of the iPhone 5s, 5c and the iPad Air hitting the market, plus iPad Mini retina and many Android smart devices all benefitting from Christmas sales. By the time of our next survey, in January 2014, we forecast average mobile device penetration will be 40% or more, with smartphone and tablets combined overtaking PCs by the end of 2014.

Fundamental changes in consumer behaviour are behind this growth, with ComScore recently observing that smartphone use already exceeds PCs in the morning and tablets, the most popular device in the evenings – often for consuming tv content or complementing tv viewing. We believe few brands have anticipated this rapid change in consumer behaviour and, therefore, offer sub optimal (or worse) user experiences for their mobile customers.

Interestingly, even though the new iPhone sales will not yet have fully impacted our survey, iPhone use has grown faster than iPad and we have also noticed that Android smartphones appear to have a higher share of web browsing than their tablet equivalents. We will keep an eye on these trends as it may point to the smartphone becoming the most popular browsing device of all.

This possibility is given further credence by Ericssons Mobility Report, published on October 30th, where it suggests we have only just glimpsed the future. Ericsson forecasts a 4x growth in mobile broadband subscriptions between 2013 and 2019 to nearly 8bn accounts, fuelled by 4G and super fast networks. Meanwhile, PC sales are stagnating or in decline.

Travel brands' response to the opportunity

While digital commerce is booming, the Internet Advertising Bureau UK’s recent study concluded that 32% of UK’s 100 top travel brands did not have any kind of mobile presence and that just one in  five offered a “seamless purchase path”. Less than half (48%) of these travel brands have a mobile app and only 56% of these (14 in all) offer transactional services.

Clearly, most travel brands have to do much more for their mobile users, if only to avoid wasting digital marketing spend on audiences who can’t access their sites. Luxury brands, in particular, need to pay attention to mobile users, as we think they will be the first to experience >50% of their users on tablets and smartphones.

Nucleus’ view

Nucleus has long been an advocate of responsive design which enables a brand to offer one website for all users, adapting the same design, user experience and content for users of many devices. We think that someone browsing a site on a smartphone on their way to work, may be the same person checking prices during their lunch break on a PC and then sharing a product or destination with their partner on a tablet, while watching their favourite tv show. Which device will they book on? It shouldn’t matter.

Having one site optimised for all devices offers many benefits, including: consistent user experience, efficiencies from managing one set of content, and technical advantages of managing one code base.

For details of Nucleus approach to responsive design and mobile-friendly websites, please contact us at

View some recent examples of our mobile-friendly websites here: CV Travel, Topping Rose HouseRegent Hotels & Resorts and Haven

Peter Matthews
Nucleus Founder & CEO
November 2013

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