mobile search trends travel google

Google study of mobile search behavior reveals travel insights

Google has released a Mobile Search Moments study that’s different from usual. Rather than ask people questions, Google tracked the actual behavior of volunteer participants.

With help from Nielsen, Google analyzed more than 6,000 mobile searches during fourth quarter 2012. It follow-up questions that confirmed conversions that resulted. Mobile here is defined as smartphone-only.

Some highlights:

The majority of the travel themed searches on mobile devices were initiated in a browser, not an app. About 12% of searches resulted in a purchase.

travel mobile search google

Travel was one of the least popular mobile activities, with only 2% of mobile activity involving bookings of things like airfare.

That’s half of “navigation” (4%) and a tiny sliver of general interest searches, such as entertainment (15%).

On the bright side, travel searches on smartphones led to an above-average number of follow-up actions, such as additional searches or phone calls. Only auto- and beauty-related mobile searches had more follow-up actions.

A majority of these follow-up actions occurred within an hour of the mobile search, a much more rapid move to potential conversion than is the average for desktop searches.

The majority of mobile searches take place in the afternoon and evening, and most happen in a place likely to have a desktop connection available.

Startlingly, smartphone users located at a school were more likely to launch a travel search—defined as searching for prices for flights, hotels, etc.—than any other type of search from a school.

The full Mobile Search Moments Study is free for download.


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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.



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  1. Sean O'Neill

    Sean O'Neill

    Hi Durant,

    Tablet owners were not included in the results.

  2. Durant Imboden

    I have the impression that the study was about mobile phones (as opposed to “mobile devices” generally). Is that correct? If “mobile” refers to any device running Android or iOS, the results are going to be skewed by tablet users.

  3. Robert C Gray

    The really interesting finding was that 2/3rds of mobile accesses occurred in the home and not out-and-about. Another proof point that mobile web access is taking share from desk-top. So mobile apps need to accommodate the travel planning phase as well as in-area support.

    The other interesting and self-serving aspect of the research-study-design was that it was focused on search. We can consider either that appropriate for this point in the mobile evolution or a possible proof-point that the industry leader will miss the turn as search is disrupted by the coming personal mediation network layer.

    Good stuff.

    • Sean O'Neill

      Sean O'Neill

      Hi Robert,
      Yes, I think that was the most interesting finding in the report, too. Will be curious to see how the industry reacts.


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