10 Oct

Online bookers go mobile

Online bookings increase whilst in-store holds steady

Growth in bookings on mobile devices is thought to be behind an increase in overall online holiday bookings. Online bookings have increased from 76% to 83% in the last 12 months, according to ABTA’s Holiday Habits Report 2017. Bookings on mobile devices have leapt from 13% to 20% in the past year, while PC bookings have fallen from 92% to 85%.

In-store holds steady

Booking in person remains steady, with 17% of people going in-store to book compared to 19% last year, whilst phone bookings have dropped from 21% in 2016 to 16% this year. People from the most affluent households are the most likely to book a holiday in-store, with 29% of those classified as social grade “A” using this booking method. A quarter (25%) of families with children under five also booked in-store. Across the UK, in-store bookings were most likely to be made by people in the East Midlands (26%), Yorkshire (25%) and the North West (23%).

Table 1.1 – How did you book your holiday in the last 12 months?

Online 83%
In person (e.g. in store) 17%
Over the phone 16%
Someone else booked the holiday 9%

While the over 65s are still the group most likely to make a booking over the phone, with over a quarter (27%) doing so, this number has fallen from 38% in 2016. Online bookings have picked up in this age group, with 15% using a tablet (10% in 2016) and 4% using a mobile (1% in 2016), suggesting that older people are getting more used to online technology. The 18-24 years olds were most likely to let someone else book their holiday; this was true for 17% of this age group.

While the PC/laptop remains the most popular online booking device, there has been a drop in the number of people using this method to book a holiday in the last year from 92% to 85%. As in 2016, tablets were used by 23% of people. Mobiles, however have seen a jump from 13% to 20%.

Table 1.2 – Devices for booking holidays online

(People who booked a holiday on a mobile device)

  Average 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
2017 20% 37% 35% 26% 16% 6% 4%
2016 13% 19% 27% 19% 6% 0% 1%

PCs/laptops are still seen as the easiest device to use to make a booking, with 84% of online bookers stating this compared to 80% in 2016. Last year, mobiles and tablets were regarded as being less easy to use, with just 54% finding booking with a tablet easy and 44% saying the same for mobiles. However, this year, the majority of people using tablets and mobiles did not find them difficult, with 70% stating they found a tablet easy to use and 60% saying the same for mobiles.

According to a recent Deloitte report, smartphone penetration has reached its peak with 81% of UK adults and 91% of 18–44 year olds owning a smartphone**. This suggests that the huge growth in smartphone usage – with their larger screens and easier navigation –is likely to be driving the increase in mobile holiday bookings.

Table 1.3 – Mobile phone bookings by age

(People who booked a holiday online)

  Average 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
2017 20% 37% 35% 26% 16% 6% 4%
2016 13% 19% 27% 19% 6% 0% 1%

Victoria Bacon, Director of Brand and Business Development, said: “For an increasing number of people, using a mobile phone to make a purchase is becoming the norm, so it is not surprising that people are starting to feel more confident using them to book their holidays. Smartphone technology is constantly improving, the screens have increased in size and many travel companies have really improved their mobile experience for customers, all of which help to make mobile phones increasingly easy to use for booking holidays.”

To find out more, download the Holiday Habits Report 2017: www.abta.com/holidayhabits2017  

10 October 2017

*Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in leisure and tourism market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated responses from a nationally representative sample of 2000 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2017. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2017.

** www.deloitte.co.uk/mobileuk/