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Travel & Hospitality 04.16.19 BLOG 

Global Mobile Travelers: Who's Booking Where

By Niklas Schlappkohl, Senior Director, Travel Solutions

Global Mobile Travelers: Who's Booking Where

We all know the “mobile first” mantra coined a few years ago. Not only does it make sense in terms of development—it´s easier to design from small to big—but it also accounts for devices, including smartphones and tablets, whose usage has been growing at staggering rates ever since they first appeared.

Nevertheless, initially travel companies were reticent to spend a lot of resources on mobile. Data showed that traffic was only top-of-the-funnel, while ultimately, almost everyone except last-minute travelers booked on desktop. Online data showed a steep rise in percentage of bookings proportionate to the size of the screen of the device being used.

This has been changing steadily everywhere. As we have gotten better at understanding, designing, and optimizing for small devices and offering greater mobile payment options, and people have become more accustomed to using smaller devices, the customer journey on mobile has expanded from travel searches and inspiration-based browsing to the full journey down the conversion path to booking.

In 2017, a Phocuswright study looked at mobile booking behavior by country and found that mobile bookings were skyrocketing in China:

Graph - Mobile Share of Gross Online Bookings by Key Countries and Regions

In another study Google conducted with Phocuswright in 2018, we see strong user behavior for the entire booking journey is especially high in emerging markets such as Asia and South America:

Infographic - Percentage of smartphone users who are comfortable researching, booking, and planning their entire trip to a new travel destination using only a mobile device

From TransPerfect’s own collaboration with Vice Media, we also see that 70% of users in emerging markets prefer to access travel tools on mobile versus desktop.

Absent above is the second-largest online travel market in the world, and by far the largest mobile market, China. Since 2016, the Chinese have been leading in mobile travel bookings. In our white paper with Phocuswright in 2017, we saw that half of all online travel bookings in China were already being made through mobile devices.

As we explored in a case study last year, more Chinese travelers are now booking independently, as opposed to doing group tours, further facilitating individual bookings directly on mobile devices. This number has continued to grow, and mobile bookings in China are projected to account for 77% of all online bookings by 2020.

This highlights the need to consider each booking channel separately when determining your localization strategy. Have a look at the specific visitor data for your mobile app. You may find that the more traditional languages your website customers prefer—and you already offer—do not necessarily match the top languages preferred by mobile visitors/bookers. As we explored in another blog post, use that data to determine what languages to localize into—for each channel.

Once you´ve identified which languages you´d like to add to your app, the next step is localizing all the content—and potentially the structure of the app—into specific languages. If you outsourced the app development, or even if you didn’t, you may be concerned that localizing your mobile app will be a lengthy and/or tedious process.

Fortunately, we have a solution that might make this effort considerably easier: Acquired in 2018, Applanga is a flexible and easy-to-integrate platform for managing mobile app translations, as it ties into existing build environments or workflows via its integrations.

Speak to your current sales contact, request a demo, or email

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