The use of mobile devices for consumer travel planning and purchasing worldwide has rocketed over the last six months, according to research.

The Travel Flash Report from digital advertising firm Criteo covers  bookings generated from mobile devices through travel websites, including airlines, hotels, car rentals, cruises and apartments, and charts the impact this has on marketers’ advertising campaigns.
The report studied the activity on more than 1,000 travel websites worldwide in the first half of 2014. Criteo analysed 300 million bookings and over $150 billion (£88.7 billion) in bookings value. It found that mobile bookings are growing faster than desktop bookings - 20 percent versus 2 percent over the first six months of the year, with smartphones and tablets accounting for 21 percent of all hotel bookings.

Peer-to-peer apartment rentals was the category with the highest mobile penetration, at 34 percent globally.

And the value of mobile bookings is increasing in every area except for accommodation. The average booking value was 21 percent higher for air travel and 13 percent higher for car rentals, but 30 percent lower for hotel bookings on mobile devices than for desktops. In-app bookings account for 12 percent of total mobile bookings.

The report says, "While smartphone and tablet use correlates to a more affluent demographic sector, the value of last-minute bookings and their price patterns also have a significant influence on average booking values in different travel categories."

It says, "The average booking value for air travel was 21 percent higher on mobile devices than for desktops, and 13 percent higher for car rentals. This is largely influenced by the fact that last-minute flights are on average of a higher value.

"The value of hotel bookings, however, was 30 percent lower on mobiles. This is mostly because a large share of mobile bookings are made on the same day and, unlike week-long vacation bookings (or flights), last-minute hotel stays tend to be shorter and of lower value."

The report found that the value of bookings by device varies across categories. For instance, there’s an average $600 (£350) more spent on packages booked on iPads when compared to those booked via any Android device. However, the value of Android bookings for flights outpaces all other mobile devices.
The Asia Pacific region leads the way with more than 20 percent of travel bookings made on a mobile device, with Brazil and Germany on less than 10 percent, for instance.
“Mobile is the driving force behind the exponential growth in online travel booking and sales, and that’s only set to continue in the second half of this year and beyond,” said Jason Morse, vice president of mobile products at Criteo.

“With smartphones and tablets in nearly every consumer’s hands today, travel marketers need to think strategically about developing a highly effective omni-channel marketing experience. That means ensuring the entire consumer experience – from the ads to shopping carts – is mobile optimised," said Morse.