21 Oct

ABTA reveals online holiday booking habits

PC is king for online holiday bookings; tablet bookings grow amongst over-65s

Almost half of us (49%)* booked a holiday abroad online last year according to the 2013 ABTA Consumer Trends Survey, showing a steady hold from the previous year when 48% booked a holiday abroad online.

The PC/laptop was overwhelmingly our favourite booking device, used by 96% of those who booked at least one holiday abroad online and 97% who booked at least one UK holiday online.  Mobiles and tablets were used by one in five (20%) of those who booked a holiday abroad online, a small decrease from 2012 when 24% of people said they booked using either a mobile or a tablet. Generally, mobiles remain marginally more popular than tablets with 11% using them to make a booking compared to 9% using tablets.

Table 1.1 – devices used to book a holiday abroad online**

  2013 2012
Tablet 9% 10%
Mobile  11%  14%
PC/laptop 96% 89%

Despite smartphone ownership becoming increasingly prevalent, *** and tablet usage on the increase,  when it comes to purchasing holidays online, consumers across all age groups are still more likely to use a PC or laptop.

Table 1.2 – devices used to book a holiday abroad online by age group**

  Total 16-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
Tablet 9% 17% 11% 8% 6% 4% 7%
Mobile 11% 29% 13% 9% 6% 3% 1%
PC/laptop 96% 90% 98% 96% 98% 98% 98%

The most notable growth in bookings made on tablets was amongst the older end of the market, where tablets are preferred to mobile. This is particularly true of the 65+s, whose use of tablets to book a holiday online increased from less than 1% in 2012 to 7% in 2013, highlighting the importance for all travel companies to ensure they have the right technology in place to capitalise on this growing trend.

Overall, the 16-24 age group is by far the most prodigious user of mobile devices, with almost half (46%) saying they had used a mobile or tablet to book a holiday abroad online in the past year. Over a quarter (29%) of this age group used a mobile while almost 1 in 5 (17%) used a tablet. Families with young children are also keen to book on the go, with two in five (40%) using a mobile or tablet device to book a holiday abroad online.

Victoria Bacon, Head of Communications ABTA said “We know that consumers use an increasingly diverse range of channels and devices to plan, research and book their holidays, including in-store, telephone or web chat, and a range of digital platforms. The important lesson for travel businesses is that they need to understand their customers’ needs, and build an integrated sales and marketing strategy to ensure they meet these needs, whatever stage of the researching and booking process customers may be at.  The research shows the vast majority of holidaymakers still rely on the PC when booking online and the gap appears to have widened between the number of people owning mobile and tablet devices and those using them to actually purchase a holiday.  This suggests that there is an opportunity here for travel businesses to exploit, particularly given the growth of e-commerce and mobile commerce in other industries. The findings also debunk the myth that older generations don’t engage with new technology: tablet devices, in particular, are proving to be increasingly popular among older age groups.”

*Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in tourism and leisure market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated response from a nationally representative sample of 2008 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2013. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2013.

**Figures do not add up to 100% because consumers were asked about all the holidays they booked online. Many consumers had booked more than one holiday online using different devices for each booking.

*** 72% of adults (18 -64) have a smartphone according to The Deloitte Consumer Review in June 2013.