Brits booking more trips direct, less on the mobile

UK consumers are making fewer travel bookings using smartphones than a year ago, according to new research from the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA).

Smartphone bookings fell sharply from 20% to 12% year-on-year.

Tablet bookings were also off, down from 23% to 20%.

Overall the study revealed that 81% of consumers had booked a holiday online this year – down from a figure of 83% in 2017. Bookings on the phone to  a call centre, or those made at a traditional travel agency, were both used by 15% of holidaymakers (down slightly on last year’s figures of 16% and 17% respectively).

Using a desktop or laptop to make the purchase remains easily the most popular option, with 86% of UK consumers using this device, a slight increase from 2017’s figure of 85%.

ABTA said these figures showed the shift towards online bookings had now “stabilised” in the UK market.

Booking through an online travel agency (OTA) was used by 48% of UK consumers for domestic holidays and 41% for overseas trips, while booking through a home-sharing platform (such as Airbnb) or owners’ letting website accounted for 12% of domestic bookings and 11% of international holidays.

Completing a booking directly with an airline or hotel accounted for 46% of domestic and 47% of overseas holidays (up from 43% last year).

ABTA’s survey also found that people aged over 65 were the most likely to book an overseas holiday with a travel company or agent (45%). While those aged 25-34 and over 75 were most likely to book a UK break through a travel professional (26%).

More than one-third of respondents (36%) said they had booked a holiday with a travel professional in the past year with the main reasons being ease of booking, saving time and feeling “more confident” about the transaction.

The overwhelming majority of people (93%) who spoke to a travel professional went on to book with their company, with 30% of these bookings being completed online.

The study found that people over the age of 65 were most likely to book on the phone (26%) while families booked the most holidays in person at an agency (22%).

Trust in reviews sites also fell significantly for those aged 25-34 – falling by 14 percentage points to just 39% for this age group since last year’s survey.

Click here to read the press release which has a link to the full report.

Related reading from tnooz:

Contrary Brits want to see personalised offers without sharing data (Sept 2018)

UK airline pax less satisfied, despite better search and booking processes (August 2018)


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Rob Gill

About the Writer :: Rob Gill

Rob Gill has been writing about the travel industry since 2001 when he joined the features department at Travel Trade Gazette in London, having previously worked for local newspapers in the UK for five years.

He was also city and finance correspondent at TTG before later becoming editor of ABTN (Air & Business Travel News) and then digital editor of Buying Business Travel.

He is now an award-winning freelance journalist writing about the leisure and business travel industries for B2B magazines and websites. He has travelled extensively for both business and pleasure, but is mostly based in London these days.



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  1. Mark Tedone

    I’d be curious to know the results by product category (e.g., air, hotel, package, etc.).


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