More travel bookings being made via mobile devices

More travellers are using mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to plan and book trips.

In South-east Asia, 30 per cent of online travel bookings between the second quarters of last year and this year were made on a mobile device, said performance marketing firm Criteo. This beats the global average of 23 per cent and the Asia-Pacific average of 27 per cent.

The trend is transforming the sector and firms must innovate to keep up, said industry players at travel trade show ITB Asia, which opened yesterday at Marina Bay Sands.

More than one in four of Hotels.com's global transactions in the second quarter of this year were made using a mobile device.

Room-renting site Airbnb said the number of Asian customers making mobile bookings now is 60 times that when it launched its app in 2013, although it gave no figures.

Consumers expect real-time information, such as price changes, to be at their fingertips, said Ms Mieke De Schepper, vice-president of Asia-Pacific at the Expedia Group, which owns Hotels.com.

"We are investing in technology to enable our hotel partners to reach travellers in the way that they want to shop," she said. "The speed of innovation is faster than ever and the industry needs to focus on being nimble."

Dr Michael Frenzel, chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council, encouraged travel firms to make their products and services available online and via mobile devices. They should also use social media and stay in touch with customers. "It is of utmost importance to be able to collect information and to utilise the aggregated data to tailor products to customer needs," said Dr Frenzel.

Local travel agency Dynasty Travel launched its iDynasty mobile app two years ago, which allows users to book tour packages and view exchange rates and weather information on the go.

"Almost everybody has a smartphone now," said its director of marketing communications Alicia Seah. "We're still mainly catering to travellers who want our service and advice, but we won't neglect Internet-savvy customers."

Bookings on the Chan Brothers Travel website have grown by 50 per cent year on year since 2013.

Meanwhile, Asian visitors who stop over at Finland's Helsinki Airport en route to Europe from next year will get to choose from 50 tour packages - ranging from five hours to five days - taking them to different parts of Finland. The Visit Finland agency hopes to establish the country - already a popular year- end destination among Singaporeans - as a stop-over destination.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2015, with the headline 'More travel bookings being made via mobile devices'. Print Edition | Subscribe