It’s no surprise that global travel companies continue to focus on mobile growth in Asia Pacific (APAC). With high Internet and mobile penetration, travelers in APAC expect faster and easier access to travel, without being bogged down by traditional payment methods. Unique market dynamics force travel companies to adopt local strategies that don’t work anywhere else. Let’s take a look at why APAC continues to lead the push towards a completely mobile traveller life cycle. While smartphone bookings soar globally, some countries continue to blaze their way as leaders in mobile travel. Asia Pacific (APAC) leads all markets in mobile booking adoption, according to Phocuswright’s Global Online Travel Overview Fourth Edition. The report provides and compares total and online travel gross bookings for six regions: the U.S./Canada, Europe, Eastern Europe, APAC, the Middle East and Latin America. APAC mobile bookings are projected to grow from 24% of the online travel market in 2015 to 37% in 2017. That compares to both the U.S. and Europe, where mobile penetration is expected to be just 24% by the end of this year.
Electronic wallets from companies including Alipay in China and Paytm in India, mobile payment solutions and call-to-book/partial online payment options have opened the floodgates for mobile transactions.
“In China, mobile-only discounts from intermediaries are fueling smartphone bookings among the country’s massive subscriber base,” says Phocuswright’s senior vice president, research, Lorraine Sileo. “In India, online travel agencies are aggressively promoting app downloads as mobile has emerged as a new battleground for intermediaries.”
ASIA PACIFIC TRAVEL MARKETS HAVE THE WORLD’S HIGHEST MOBILE TRAVEL PENETRATION
With a rising number of Asia Pacific (APAC) travellers having access to the Internet and digital banking via their smartphones, mobile will be the fastest- growing online platform in the region. Combined mobile gross bookings of China, India and Japan will reach US$105.9 billion by 2020, up 325% over 2015. Phocuswright’s Asia Pacific Online Travel Overview Ninth Edition provides market and channel sizing, and aggregates gross travel bookings of APAC-based travel suppliers, covering 13 APAC countries’ leisure and unmanaged business travel.
“It is no surprise that China, where Weixin (WeChat), the world’s most advanced mobile messaging and commerce platform was conceived, also leads the mobile travel revolution globally,” said Phocuswright’s research analyst, Asia Pacific, Chetan Kapoor. “Mobile share of the Chinese online travel market will almost double between 2015 and 2020 to 77%, significantly dwarfing even the Western mobile markets.”
In APAC, online travel agencies are at the forefront of mobile innovation, development, marketing and distribution relative to the suppliers. In India, OTAs accounted for 88% of the mobile travel market in 2015, while their counterparts in China delivered 60% of the market’s mobile gross bookings in the same year. OTAs will remain the major force behind mobile bookings in APAC.
MOBILE TRAVEL SHOPPING AND BOOKING ASCENDS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
Individual travel markets within Southeast Asia showcase distinct shopping and booking trends. While computers remain the more popular device for travel shopping and booking among Southeast Asian travellers, smartphone usage is on the rise.
Travel shopping via smartphones has gained prominence in Indonesia and Thailand. The relatively younger, millennial population adds to the heavy smartphone usage in these markets vis-à-vis mature online markets such as Malaysia and Singapore. In the past 12 months, more than one in two Indonesian and Thai online travellers booked travel via smartphone. Rising mobile travel bookings in these markets is also influenced by online travel agencies publishing mobile-only prices and discounts on their apps.
In contrast, travel shopping and booking via smartphones are less popular in Malaysia and Singapore. A relatively consolidated supplier landscape, particularly in the air segment, means distribution status quo and limited consumer incentives to shift from desktop to the mobile channel.
“It’s no surprise that the millennials are more comfortable with mobile bookings,” says Phocuswright’s Asia Pacific research analyst, Chetan Kapoor. “Given the younger demographic, Indonesian and Thai travellers have been quicker than their Singaporean and Malaysian counterparts to adopt travel apps. Four in 10 Indonesian and Thai online travellers used apps for travel shopping during their last leisure trip. The share of travellers using smartphones for travel research and booking will only increase in the coming years”.
Combined mobile gross bookings of China, India and Japan will reach US$105.9 billion by 2020, up 325% over 2015. In APAC, online travel agencies are at the forefront of mobile innovation, development, marketing and distribution relative to the suppliers.
Mobile travel shopping and booking varies from market to market in Southeast Asia: In the past 12 months, more than one in two Indonesian and Thai online travellers booked travel via smartphone. Rising mobile travel bookings in these markets are also influenced by online travel agencies publishing mobile-only prices and discounts on their apps. In contrast, travel shopping and booking via smartphones are less popular in Malaysia and Singapore .