Move over smartphone, there's a new mobile disruptor in town. Tablet adoption is skyrocketing among U.S. leisure travelers, triggering dramatic changes in online and travel shopping behavior.
According to a new PhoCusWright Innovation Edition report, 44% of travelers now own a tablet, and an additional four in 10 plan to purchase one by the end of 2014.
With smartphone penetration at 75%, the tablet's rapid rise means a growing share of travelers is splitting online travel planning across multiple web-enabled devices. In 2013, one third of U.S. online travelers owned a smartphone, laptop and tablet, up from less than a quarter in 2012.
"Tablets are having an impact on travel planning habits that goes far beyond simply adding one more device to the mix," said Marcello Gasdia, PhoCusWright's consumer research analyst. "Once a traveler purchases a tablet, we're seeing their mobile web usage nearly double, with the mobile web accounting for fifty percent of time spent online. As the tablet-toting contingent of U.S. travelers continues to grow, the assumption that online travel planning usually means interacting via the desktop web may no longer hold true."
While desktop/laptop computers still get the highest marks for ease-of-use in terms of travel planning, seven in ten tablet owners rate planning a vacation online via tablet as somewhat or very easy. Although most tablet owners also have a smartphone close at hand, they are more likely to rely on their tablet for destination selection, shopping and booking – making tablets a crucial element of mobile travel strategy in 2014.