India, the country with the world's second largest population and fastest growing smartphone userbase, has certainly seen great adoption of mobile and tablet devices by consumers in day-to-day work (e-mail, browsing, banking etc.)
With smartphones becoming more affordable - Mozilla recently announced plans to launch a $25 smartphone in India - and data plans becoming cheaper, the adoption rate of smartphones is going to shift up a gear.
Travel brands in the destination are already witnessing the impact of mobile and tablet on day-to-day operations.
Cleartrip, one of the leading online travel agents in India, shared its mobile and tablet related data with Tnooz.
While the data below cannot be taken as indicative of the whole Indian travel industry, it certainly sheds light on the current and future role of mobile and tablet from a consumer's perspective.
Mobile bookings - flights
Flight searches via mobile constitute about 30% of total flight searches performed, 18 months ago this percentage was about 10%.
Flight bookings via mobile constitute about 20% of the total flight bookings, 18 months ago this percentage was about 5%. In the case of MakeMyTrip, India's largest OTA, 15% of online (domestic) flight bookings and 27% of online hotel bookings are via mobile channels.
Ticket size vs bookings
Believe it or not, Cleartrip gets about 60% of its train bookings via its mobile app. It is worth mentioning that train booking functionality was added to Cleartrip's app just six months ago.
While the Indian Railways website (IRCTC) is the top travel website in India, the booking experience has attracted criticism from users.
Interestingly, there is a correlation between the ticket size and mobile bookings - the lower the ticket size, the higher the mobile bookings. This is evident from the 20% mobile flight booking vs 60% mobile bookings for trains.
Mobile bookings - hotels
Two months ago, Cleartrip launched a 'Pay @ Hotel' feature in its mobile apps, and seeing 15% of hotel bookings (from the app) for this feature.
This chimes in with a recent study by AsiaRooms that reveals "pay during checkout" as the most preferred payment method for guests.
Cleartrip has over 120,000 hotels listed. Among this, 15% of bookings are from mobile channels.
Popular mobile operating system, and future of mobile channel
While Windows Phone might be India’s second most popular smartphone OS, for Cleartrip, the top mobile booking platforms are iPhone and Android taking a 43% and 50% share respectively.
30% of Cleartrip's overall search traffic is via the mobile channel. Due to the nature of the mobile device (personal, portable), the repeat user rate from mobile is 1.5 times of desktop.
By 2015, the company expects to see 50% of searches, and 25% of bookings via mobile.
In the next five years, it estimates the mobile channel contribution at 60-70%. This reflects a similar trend in the Chinese online travel industry where companies like Ctrip are proclaiming themselves as "mobile travel agents" (MTA).
Tablet search and bookings
When it comes to tablets, iPad steals the show.
Among the total traffic to Cleartrip website - 70% from desktop, 25% from mobile and 5% from tablet - of which 85% is via iPad, and the remaining 15% traffic is via Android enabled tablets.
Interestingly, conversion rate on the iPad is twice that of Android tablets as Apple users tend to spend more. The company sees a similar difference between iPhone and Android phones.
Cleartrip estimates tablet traffic will grow to 15-20% in the next three to four years.
35% of tablet searches are for a date of travel less than three days away (for hotels) – compared to under 50% for mobile and 35% for desktop. This might imply that consumers are using their tablets as replacements for desktops and not as an extended mobile device.
31% of all searches on tablets happen on Saturday and Sunday and tablet usage spikes in late evenings and closer to midnight - this is primarily because people use them at home.
15% of users use two or more devices while booking their travel showing cross-device behaviour is real and prevalent in India as well. This is also in line with a Google report that quotes 43% of consumers plan a trip by using devices sequentially in India.
When it comes to the tablet traffic by metro cities, Mumbai and Delhi top the chart with 19% share each, followed by Bangalore (7%), Kolkata (4%), Gurgaon (3%), Chennai (3%), Hyderabad (3%), Pune (2%) and Noida (2%).
On the payments front, credit card is the dominant mode of payment for both tablets and mobile (including apps), and debit cards and online banking contribute to less than 10%.
NB:Mobile image via Shutterstock.