Hotel Industry Blog

Mobile traffic continues to grow, but desktop retains revenue dominance for now

By Des O'Mahony | On Thu, July 12, 2018

Though mobile phone traffic continues to grow in 2018, people still prefer to transact on desktop (for now)

Bookassist continues to analyse the changing behaviour of mobile users on over 1000 European hotel websites. Previously, in full year 2017, we saw significant year on year user pattern change in mobile device versus desktop behaviour, both in sessions and revenue generation. Overall traffic on mobile devices exceeded desktop traffic in some regions and was rapidly moving that way in all others. Here we present the same analysis for the first half of 2018.

Mobile Traffic Continues Growth

In terms of traffic (measured as sessions), the switch to mobile has continued though the pace of change has obviously slowed. Desktop traffic is now just 40% of sessions for hotels in Ireland and the UK, and mobile device traffic is approaching par with desktop in Spain and Portugal.

In all cases mobile phone traffic in particular continues to increase, though growth has now slowed to single figures in percentage terms. Interestingly, tablet traffic seems to be dropping rapidly in percentage terms in the majority of cases at the expense of mobile phones.

Sessions on mobile versus desktop for hotels in the first half of 2018
Figure 1: Visitor sessions by device on Bookassist client hotel websites in Europe from January to June 2018, together with the relative change (in brackets) compared to the same period in 2017. Mobile traffic continues to grow but growth is flattening out.

Mobile Revenue Has A Long Way To Go

In terms of revenue being generated through bookings on hotel websites, we see very significant improvement in mobile and tablet revenue generation. Growth in mobile revenue is universally in double digits year on year, though this is still coming off a low base versus desktop.( Despite the number of mobile phone sessions being significantly higher than tablet sessions, the actual level of revenue generated on each platform is similar in most cases.)

Even though mobile revenue is growing in double digits in most cases, desktop still clearly dominates transactions for hotels.

Revenue generated on mobile versus desktop for hotels in the first half of 2018
Figure 2: Revenue share by device on Bookassist client hotel websites in Europe from January to June 2018, together with the relative change (in brackets) compared to the same period in 2017. Mobile-generated revenue continues to grow universally but for now doesn’t reach the same impressive slice overall that mobile traffic does.

Targeting Mobile

When you look at the broader online picture, mobile currently accounts for half of all global web pages served (source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/241462/global-mobile-phone-website-traffic-share/ ). By February 2017 this figure had already reached 65% in Asia.

But clearly, there are usage differences that inhibit actual transactions on mobile, be they habit, usage mode and/or technical barriers. Bookassist has focused strongly on eliminating technical barriers with the release of the new V10 Mobile booking engine in order to help drive mobile booking revenue up. The ongoing roll-out of V10 Mobile, our most advanced booking platform yet, is undoubtedly accounting for some of the growth figures seen in mobile phone transaction revenue here. However the number of hotels that have been transitioned to V10 Mobile since its April release is still too low to show V10’s real impact on the first six-month figures here.

Given the increasingly dominant number of mobile sessions in all regions compared to the relatively low transaction level, mobile is underexploited. We see most providers’ mobile efforts to be poor in terms of quality, speed and usability, which is why we have directly tackled these areas with our ultra-modern and responsive Smart Web system and our new V10 Mobile booking technology.

Targeting mobile transactions in every possible way is the single best thing that any hotel can do to improve its direct booking potential. That includes using the best mobile web and booking technology, built for speed and usability, and adopting a strategy of providing mobile-only incentives. Treating mobile guests as second-class citizens today will cost you dearly.


Dr Des O’Mahony is CEO and Founder at Bookassist (http://www.bookassist.com), the multi-award-winning technology and digital strategy partner for hotels worldwide, and is a HSMAI “Top 20 Extraordinary Minds” recipient.


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