There’s no denying the internet has forever revolutionized the travel industry, and a recent analysis predicts mobile booking will continue to grow significantly throughout the next five years.
Historically, the majority of travelers have preferred to sit down at a desktop to book big trips. With more and more people using their smartphones for daily tasks, however, the data foretells of a potential sea change.
According to research firm eMarketer's latest forecast on digital and mobile travel trends, U.S. digital travel sales will reach $189.62 billion this year, with 40% coming directly from mobile devices.
eMarketer includes airlines, car rentals, cruises, hotels, accommodations (including Airbnb) and transportation within its travel sales totals.
It's predicted U.S. mobile travel sales will increase 16.7% from 2016 to 2017, and steadily rise over the coming years to represent nearly half of all digital travel sales by 2021.
On the other hand, desktop/laptop travel sales will decline 1.6% this year over last, to $113.77 billion. By 2021, its overall share of digital sales will have shrunk by 4%, to only 60%.
Some exciting news for the online travel industry: By 2019, digital travel sales will surpass $200 billion for the first time, and by 2020, mobile sales alone will be more than $100 billion.
So, which mobile devices are used to book the most travel?
According to eMarketer, U.S. adults are using smartphones to book their travel plans far beyond tablets. This year alone, 57.5 million will use a smartphone to book travel, up 14.1% from 2016, while 38.7 million will book via tablet.
By 2021, 77.6 million people will book their travel plans via smartphone. This represents 81.4% of all mobile travel booked.
So, how do travel agents fit in to all this?
Well, being that travel agents still account for 30 percent of all travel booked, they fit in beautifully. Especially in this day and age where convenience outweighs most everything, it also reigns true that travel agents are as popular as ever, with millennials, according to the National Post, "wanting someone who knows better than they do to book the trip for them."
Marry this travel agent-popularity with the rise of mobile bookings and you have one thing: at home travel agents, conveniently booking trips for their clients from the comfort of their tablets and smartphones.