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Expedia is a major and extremely well-known name in the travel industry, and a new study from the media solutions arm of the travel giant provides some interesting information about consumer behaviour in the United Kingdom. Expedia Media Solutions is the advertising sales division of the company, and the report compiled by this organisation analysed online travel content consumption and bookings across devices and demographics in the UK, and compared them to similar trends in the United States.

While assessing the mobile marketplace is always important in itself, it is equally vital to pay heed to the fact that most UK consumers and households now have access to multiple devices. This provides more opportunities for marketers to reach travellers across multiple screens, but it also leads to a purchasing journey which can be more complex and difficult to understand.

UK Residents Connect with Mobile

The study, which was conducted by comScore, found that just under three-quarters (73 percent) of the UK residents who utilise mobile devices used them in order to interact with travel-related content. It is notable that this is significantly higher than the same figure for the United States, which was found to be 63 percent. Additionally, the total UK travel audience in the mobile sphere is equal to that of desktop PCs and Apple Macs, as the ownership of mobile devices and utilisation of them continues to grow.

Expedia's study also uncovered the fact that smartphone users in the UK are the most likely to access travel content of all mobile device users. The figures collated by the travel organisation clearly indicate that it is vital for brands to reach out to customers in the United Kingdom across smartphones and tablets, but also not to neglect desktop PCs.

Indeed, according to the survey, the usage of PCs in the United Kingdom in fact remains pretty high. But at the same time, the ownership and usage of mobile devices continues to rise rapidly in the United Kingdom, not only outpacing the usage of desktop computing, but also outstripping the same trend in the United States. This underlines the importance of marketers deploying multiscreen strategies in order to attract consumers across multiple devices. And this could be a particularly profitable strategy, as luxury customers are more likely to utilise multiple devices according to Expedia.

Three-quarters use all Digital Platforms

Ownership of devices in the United Kingdom very much supports this conclusion. 75 percent of UK travellers own all three types of device – PC, smartphone and tablet – and this was a vast increase from the previous year. When Expedia carried out this survey in 2014, only one in two UK travellers owned a PC, smartphone and tablet, so this is naturally a huge increase in a relatively short period of time. And most utilise multiple devices on a regular basis; half of the travel audience engages with both their PC and mobile devices in relation to travel every single month.

Aside from the fact that UK consumers are utilising multiple devices in order to access travel information, it is also important to note that diverse forms of information are being sought. Thus, the majority of those certified in the United Kingdom gain access to all of the major travel categories online. These include travel information, ground / cruise, hotels / resorts, online travel agents, airlines, car rental, and travel.

However, more than one-quarter of the total travel audience only accesses travel content through their mobile devices, indicating that mobile is becoming an increasingly important platform for travel. Backing up this impression, that Expedia survey found that mobile devices are being utilised by the United Kingdom travel audiences across all travel stages. So it is important to engage with mobile consumers from researching, through planning, to shopping, and finally during a travel trip. But it is also important for marketers to comprehend how content engagement can vary between tablet and smartphone.

Tablet and Smartphone Contrasts

The majority of mobile users in the UK engage with travel content on their mobile devices via a browser. But it is noticeable that this is more true of tablet users. 66 percent of smartphone users and 81 percent of tablet users access travel content exclusively via a browser.

But although mobile browsers are driving the travel experience, mobile applications remain important to the travel audience. This is particularly true or smartphone users, with 21 percent of those who access travel content via this platform accessing travel content only through such apps, as opposed to 10 percent of tablet users.

Tablet usage is typically leveraged across all travel stages, while mobile usage peaks during prime time, and desktop tends to lead engagement during the working day. It is also notable that tablet transactions increased significantly from the previous year. Paying heed to these trends will help marketers reach customers optimally throughout the United Kingdom.

And tablet remains a favourite platform for final bookings. Over one-third (36 percent) of tablet owners in the UK have booked travel on their tablet while one-sixth (16 percent) have booked via their smartphone in the past six months. Evidence was also collected by Expedia which suggested that UK smartphone and tablet users are both more receptive to mobile advertisements than the American counterparts.

In summary, this is a valuable snapshot of the UK travel market as it stands, which gives a real insight into consumer behaviour across the country. There are many valuable trends for travel-related businesses and destinations to pick up on, but probably the most important is to simply acknowledge that the contemporary digital marketplace is evolving rapidly, and becoming more centred on a complex consumer journey which includes multiple mobile devices.

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