Consumer technology is unleashing massive opportunity for the European travel industry. Mobile devices are remaking the digital rules of traveler engagement, opening up new ways for travel businesses to stimulate demand and drive bookings.

NB: This article is written by Mary Russell, copywriter at PhoCusWright.

A new study by PhoCusWright, the European Traveler Technology Survey 2014, was designed to help travel companies understand this exciting new intersection of consumer technology and holiday travel in the three major markets of France, Germany and the U.K.

Below are five of the major highlights:

Tablets: No longer just for the young and tech savvy

Younger consumers are typically the strongest adopters of new technology. Millennials were first to jump on Facebook. They were first to tweet. They took to smartphones at the fastest clip. But the new study reveals an exception to the pattern. In Europe, tablets are appealing to a much older crowd.

According to the European Traveler Technology Survey 2014, tablet ownership peaks among 35-44 year-old online travel planners in France (54%) and the U.K. (55%) – and among 45-54 year olds in Germany (45%).

pcw sp tablet ownership chart 1

There are a few likely drivers of the overall trend. For one, tablets are not cheap. Millennials tend to have more trouble dishing out the cash for these devices – especially after splurging on laptops and smartphones – which typically happen first.

Additionally, tablets offer older, less tech-savvy consumers a more familiar online experience – replicating PC functionality with larger screens, multi-window web-browsing and even keyboard attachments.

Multi-device going mainstream

European leisure travelers are getting increasingly techie. They now own an average of 3.2 different web-enabled devices – nearly four in every five own a laptop, smartphone and tablet.

Younger travelers might be relying less on PCs, but overall, consumers are adopting devices much quicker than they are getting rid of them. Over the past few years, mobile surged while the PC maintained.

This implies that travel companies must approach the latest generation of consumers as the “multi-device” generation, not just the “mobile” generation.

Tablets preferred over smartphones for everyday shopping and buying

Tablets have officially surpassed smartphones as a shopping and booking channel for both flights and hotels. Smartphones may be more commonly owned by travelers, but tablet owners are much more likely to shop and buy with tablets.

Seventy one percent of European flyers used a tablet to research flights over the past year, while only 65% used a smartphone.

pcw shopping and booking chart 2

PhoCusWright senior analyst, consumer research, Marcello Gasdia says:

“It’s important to keep track of who’s using what during all of this multi-device pandemonium. Device adoption patterns have a huge impact on online holiday shopping behavior.

“We’re seeing tablet adoption soar among older consumers in Europe, and now the devices are huge shopping channels for the age group as well. Thirty-five to fifty-five year olds are now more likely to use tablets to shop for holidays than tech-savvy millennials.”

Well over half of multi-device travelers used a tablet to look for information about a product or service they were thinking about buying, while just 38% used their smartphone.

pcw devices used chart 3

Mobile holiday planning increasingly app-heavy

European travelers generally rely more on mobile websites rather than downloaded travel apps when planning holidays on mobile. While the mobile web may dominate today, this trend won’t last for long.

The transition may be gradual, but mobile travel activity will become increasingly “app-heavy.”

Millennials, typically the technology trailblazers, are not only much more active on their smartphones throughout the online travel search-shop-buy process, but they also tend to rely more on travel apps compared to older travelers.

Travelers aged 18-34 estimate that apps account for close to half of all travel planning activity. From there, app activity drops with age – hitting only 28% among travelers 65 and older.

pcw apps v mobile web chart 4

Small screens still a pain point

Despite the rise of mobile channels, the PC still dominates online travel planning in Europe. Well over 80% of leisure travelers in the region researched a destination, shopped for travel products, or booked using a laptop or desktop over the past 12 months.

Despite growing reliance on mobile, the PC still dominates the online travel search-shop-buy process across all age groups. More than 70% of European online travel planners rely on the PC to research destinations, shop for travel products and book.

Clearly, travelers are not as comfortable planning travel on a smartphone compared to a PC. As some might expect, small screens are the biggest pain point. Half of mobile travel planners in Europe consider a smartphone’s screen too small for activities like shopping and buying travel.

pcw frustrations chart 4

Watch the clip below for more about the European Technology Survey 2014.

NB: This article is written by Mary Russell, copywriter at PhoCusWright. It appears here as part of Tnooz’s sponsored content initiative.

NB2: European technology and innovation as well as live research are just some of the things you’ll experience in Dublin at PhoCusWright Europe in 2015. If you can’t wait that long, then join us in Los Angeles, California USA, for The PhoCusWright Conference.

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NB3: Family image via Shutterstock.

Original author: Special Nodes