Small Luxury Hotels of the World has revealed how significant the mobile economy is to the luxury travel industry with its latest data on global browsing and booking trends through its website.
Tech gurus hyped 2012 as the year of the mobile boom and the latest figures from the luxury hotel brand really highlight the growing ubiquity of handheld devices over twelve months by comparing visits and bookings on the site by iPad, iPhone and Android handsets.
The year on year analysis for SLH’s online activity for January, traditionally one of the most popular booking months, not only reinforces the growing trend for mobile browsing and booking, but also underpins the growing demand for luxury travel in the emerging markets, which saw the greatest percentage increase of traffic to slh.com.
In January 2013, SLH website hits in China were up by 406 per cent year on year; Brazil saw an increase of 104 per cent, followed by Russia with a more moderate 22 per cent increase.
The UK saw a very positive increase, up 15 per cent, while in line with expectations other more developed travel markets such as the USA and Germany saw slight increases of one per cent and four per cent respectively, compared to the same month the previous year.
In terms of website visits by mobile devices, the developed economies saw the most significant growth.
The iPad continues to be the most popular handset for searching hotels on slh.com, with iPad visits from the UK recording the largest share of total website visits at 22 per cent in January 2013, up 108 per cent year on year, followed by Canada (19 per cent), France (17 per cent) and Germany (16 per cent).
Website visits by iPhone were also marginally up year on year with the Canadian and Chinese markets both seeing the most significant jump, recording a 193 per cent and 105 per cent increase in iPhone traffic to slh.com.
Android visits were also up in most markets, although it still represents a very small proportion of the total volume of website visits, suggesting there is untapped potential for more mobile-friendly content.
The mobile technology market in the UK continues to surge and accounts for an increasing amount of the total online search volume for accommodation.
In January 2013, 30 per cent of visits to slh.com from the UK were from a mobile device, compared to 18 per cent in 2012, representing a 50 per cent increase year on year.
This data mirrors a nationwide technology trend for the travel industry according to the results of a Google UK survey revealing that during the third quarter of 2012, 33 per cent of all online searches for accommodation were from a mobile device, a sharp increase from the same quarter in 2011 when mobile accounted for just five per cent of searches.
These results do not come as much surprise considering that the UK has one of the highest penetrations of smartphones in the world according to Ofcom.
As of December 2012, 58 per cent of the population has a smartphone and almost a fifth (19 per cent) owns a tablet.
The iPhone is the most popular device capturing 29 per cent of the UK smartphone market.
Meanwhile, the percentage of website visitors making bookings on slh.com across all mobile platforms remains fairly low worldwide, although the conversion rate is growing.
Over 14 per cent of all bookings in the last two quarters of 2012 were made by iPad, iPhone and Android, up from seven per cent across the same period in 2011.
China and Russia saw a particularly large increase in year on year bookings by iPad, with the iPad accounting for 24 per cent (compared to zero per cent in 2012) and 15 per cent (up 700 per cent) of total bookings respectively.
The steady rise of the iPad fan club in the UK continues with 18 per cent of SLH hotel stays booked via iPad in January 2013, up from seven per cent in January 2012.
The number of bookings made by iPhone and Android remains very small, with the exception of the world’s leader in technology, Japan, where seven per cent of all bookings via slh.com were made by iPhone.
Could these technology champions be paving the way for smartphone luxury accommodation bookings in the future?