Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Travelocity offers best tablet booking experience: study

Mobiquity’s “The Connected Traveler: Mobile Satisfaction Report” looks at how some of the bigger travel brands stack up with consumer satisfaction for smartphone and tablet owners. The report also points to a gap between consumers’ expectations for mobile and the sometimes lackluster experiences that brands are delivering.

“Our study revealed a stark drop-off between the percentages of consumers using their tablets to research travel and those who carry on to actually book with the leading travel brands via their devices,” said Chris Harding, executive vice president at Mobiquity, Wellesley, MA.

“There could be two factors causing this,” he said. “One, the slow and confusing experiences with mobile apps and sites that are turning consumers off and two, the fact that the Web is still the default channel for travel research and booking.

Our study showed that travel brands have a long way to go to compete with the Web and shore up consumer’s mobile engagement.”

Leading the pack
The Mobiquity study polled 1,000 smartphone and tablet owners that used their devices to plan and book travel plans from 19 of the top travel brands. The research was conducted by ResearchNow.

Travelocity leads when it comes to both tablet app and site satisfaction.

Other top-performing tablet apps include Kayak, Expedia, Delta and InterContinental Hotels.

On the tablet Web side, 96 percent of consumers were satisfied with Marriott’s tablet site. Ninety-five percent of tablet users were satisfied with Orbitz’s tablet site.

Hilton, United, Southwest and Starwood also ranked highly in tablet Web satisfaction.

In addition to satisfaction, the study also looked at which brands consumers are accessing most frequently via their tablets.

Hilton is most used by consumers in the research and planning mode by 45 percent of the users surveyed. Twenty percent of consumers booked their travel plans with Hilton via a tablet.

Expedia placed No. 2 as a destination that tablet owners use to research, followed by Marriott, Kayak and Delta, respectively.

On the booking side, Marriott was the No. 2 used site by consumers to book trips. Southwest, United and Expedia rounded out the top five brands that tablet users booked from.

Book on mobile
According to the research, 25 percent of connected travelers plan to use their devices to book and research a trip within the next month.

There are also big differences in how smartphones and tablets are used to book trips. For example, 76 percent of smartphone owners in the survey wanted to use their devices to book travel or hotel rooms while they are on the go. Only 35 percent of tablet owners said the same.

One of the key takeaways from the study is that brands in the travel and hospitality sector need to be viewing mobile for more than just bookings and create a more comprehensive, immersive experience for travelers.

For example, 54 percent of tablet owners who researched travel on their devices returned to the Web to book their plans. Twenty-six percent of these users finished their booking on a tablet site and 16 percent picked a tablet app to complete the booking.

For smartphone users, 62 percent of users who research on their devices completed their booking on a desktop. Twenty-four percent made their booking on either a smartphone app or site.

Mobile bookers are also increasingly big spenders. For example, 39 percent of tablet owners and 33 percent of smartphone owners surveyed said that they spend more than $500 when making a mobile booking on a site.

Similarly, 36 percent of tablet users and 40 percent of smartphone owners plan to spend more than $500 within a mobile app when it comes to booking a trip.

Bad experiences
The study also highlights the challenges that some brands have meeting the needs of mobile users.

Sixty percent of tablet owners and 52 percent of smartphone users said that mobile travel sites loaded slowly, for instance.

Additionally, 35 percent of connected travelers who had an unsatisfactory mobile experience with a travel brand are less likely to book again.

In particular, tablet owners are fussy about their experiences.

Fifty-one percent of tablet owners said that app features such as selection and search options were difficult to use.

Another 44 percent of the tablet owners surveyed said that sites were not optimized for tablet.

Twenty percent of tablet owners want travel apps that tie in with loyalty programs so that they can redeem points and miles. Although the percent only represents a slice of tablet owners, the stat points to a need to better equip tablet apps with more information.

“With their smartphones in hand, consumers are able to access information almost immediately today,” Mr. Harding said.

“Their expectations for speed and access have been set, and the bar is high,” he said.

“This instant gratification-seeking consumer doesn’t have a lot of patience for slow-to-load pages or payment issues when they are using their mobile devices.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York