Our research, conducted across 12 UK and international travel websites during June 2014, shows 34% year-on-year growth for tablets and smartphones, with smartphones now outpacing tablets. With iPad and tablet sales slowing, the increased popularity of smartphone browsing suggests a significant shift in user behaviour; with consumers not only comfortable to browse travel websites on a small screen but, in increasing numbers, also happy book with them.
Apple’s devices and operating system remain the dominant forces in web browsing and booking with a 77.9% OS share and a mighty 87.8% of m-commerce transactions.
Smartphone and tablet bookings currently account for 19.33% of all online revenue, but with 198% growth in smartphone bookings over the past twelve months, we predict smartphone m-commerce will continue to climb quickly; and with wider availability of 4G networks and the launch of the larger screened iPhone 6, more and more consumers will complete travel transactions on their phones.
However, smartphone m-commerce only benefits brands offering smartphone-friendly websites and booking flows.
Responsive Website Design (RWD) enables an excellent user experience across a wide range of devices and is growing in popularity, due to its flexibility, simpler management overhead and lower operating costs, compared to designing and operating a separate smartphone site. Combined with a smartphone-friendly booking flow, a responsive website is now a necessity for all travel operators.
Smartphones, m-commerce and the luxury consumer
The return on investment on designing a seamless, mobile-friendly user experience is clear by comparing data from optimised and non-optimised websites. The survey found that while non-optimised sites converted little or no smartphone revenue, responsive design, teamed with a mobile-friendly booking flow, delivered impressive results with average transaction values from smartphones surprisingly at 2.8x average desktop bookings.
Further proof of an affluent lifestyle preference for smartphones is clear from consistently higher levels of mobile browsing on luxury websites, with several already above 50% and our top site registering 55.4% mobile traffic in June – the majority from smartphone users.
Travel sector lags
Despite irrefutable evidence that users are shifting to mobile in ever-greater numbers and Google going public about penalising mobile-unfriendly sites, the travel sector still lags when it comes to implementing responsive web design. The Internet Advertising Bureau found in their 2013 Travel Audit that only 48% of travel companies had a mobile optimised site and just 4% used responsive website design.
For how much longer can travel brands prevaricate on m-commerce?
For information about Nucleus’ responsive design services, read our approach to digital design.
See earlier Mobile Web Browsing Reports
Nucleus Founder & CEO
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