The increasing adoption of mobile devices by consumers in the US translates progressively into booming booking figures for mobile sales, as a recent eMarketer study suggests (eMarketer). This year, the report predicts mobile sales (which includes both smartphone and tablets) will grow by nearly 60%. Given the estimated 31% average annual growth rate of mobile sales over the next 5 years, it is suggested that sales volumes will reach a total of $64 billion by 2018.
MOBILE SALES OUTPACING OTHER DIGITAL CHANNELS
This year, mobile sales are expected to represent 18% of all digital travel sales (including desktop and laptop computers). However, by 2018 this number will have risen to a staggering 37%. In other words, the study predicts that all of the growth in digital travel will be generated by mobile, whereas the stationary devices will decline in terms of travel sales.
Although these numbers ought to be taken with a pinch of salt, as the reliability of market size estimations over a five year period are difficult. Nevertheless, it indicates a clear trend towards mobile. This should be a wake-up call for travel and tourism providers, to invest in building seamless and appealing mobile experiences. Secondly, technology providers need to work on increasing the perceived security and reliability of mobile sales solution, as perceived risk and poor browsing experiences are frequently cited by consumer studies as the major reasons behind not purchasing travel products via mobile devices.
OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH
This forecast contradicts the currently low numbers of mobile sales. At the moment, consumers use mobile devices predominantly to carry low value transactions, such as booking last minute hotels. However, given that especially tablets increasingly replace laptops and desktop computers in the home environment, the number of larger transactions is likely to rise sharply. Travel shopping is often a “lean-back” activity, conducive to the tablet user experience while consumers are at home on their couch. Secondly, more companies are investing in mobile solutions that allow customers to carry out transactions during the travel stage. Only recently, Marriott hotels launched a series of mobile applications, which focus mainly on establishing smartphones and tablets virtual as real-time interaction channels, which facilitate both communication but also sales of additional services.
These two developments will drive the value of mobile transactions significantly over the next years, and provide those companies that already started developing appropriate solutions, a competitive first mover advantage.
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