Despite the fact that mobile design and performance issues are causing travel brands to miss out big opportunities, Travelocity and Hilton are the most popular brands for travel booking via tablet devices, according to a study of smartphone and tablet-owning travellers by mobile app provider Mobiquity. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The study, entitled 'The Connected Traveller', analysed the experiences of 1,000 people who have smartphones and tablets to plan and book travel with 19 of the top travel brands and found that 35% of mobile internet-connected travellers would be less likely to book again with a travel brand after a slow, confusing or non-optimized experience when researching or booking travel with a mobile device.

Consumers said they do want to use their mobile devices for travel planning and booking, but that slow and poorly designed mobile apps and sites are negatively affecting their experiences.

The study found that consumers generally have good intentions when booking travel with a mobile device:

  • After researching travel on their tablets, 54% of tablet owners return to the Web to book, but 26% go on to use tablet sites to make bookings.
  • Tablets are the preferred device for planning future travel: 25% of connected travellers will use their tablet to research and book travel within the next month.
  • 39% of tablet owners and 33% of smartphone owners plan to spend more than $500 on travel bookings via mobile sites.
  • 36% of tablet owners and 40% of smartphone owners plan to spend more than $500 on travel bookings via mobile apps.
  • 76% of smartphone owners and 35% of tablet owners want to use their devices to book travel or hotel rooms when they are on the go and have an immediate need.

But bad mobile experiences are having a very negative effect. For example:

  • 52% of tablet owners and 60% of smartphone owners complained that mobile travel sites were slow to load.
  • 51% of tablet owners said that search and selection options on travel apps were complicated, and 44% reported that sites were not optimized for the tablet.
  • 20% of tablet owners were disappointed that apps were not integrated with their loyalty programmes, which meant they couldn't access or redeem points or miles.

"The connected traveller demands an extremely fast, intuitive experience given the hectic and stressful nature of the travel journey. Unfortunately, many travel apps and mobile sites fall short on the quality of the overall user experience including slow page loads, complex navigation, and a lack of integration with other features like loyalty programmes," concluded Scott Snyder, Mobiquity's president and chief strategy officer. "Despite smartphone and tablet users representing the high-end of travel spend, many travel brands have simply translated what they have on the web to mobile devices instead of taking full advantage of the unique capabilities of these devices."

The full report's findings has been made available for free download from Mobiquity's web site - click here (free registration required).