Most leisure travelers book at least some of their reservations online as of 2016, with only one in seven saying they book everything offline, according to Phocuswright.

ONLINE BOOKING FOR travel has reached a mature stage, said Phocuswright. Most travelers book reservations online with only one in seven saying they book all of their travel offline.

Phocuswright explains online booking can be split into four major distribution channels: supplier websites, OTAs, central reservations/walk-in and travel agencies/TMCs.

“While the U.S. travel market is relatively underpenetrated in terms of mobile bookings, online channels – including mobile web and apps, supplier websites, online agencies and all web-enabled devices – have, in aggregate, reached a mature stage.”

The share of those who say they usually book online has held steady at about one in five from 2012.

And as online growth leveled off, another trend has emerged, said researchers – hybrid booking, the practice of combining online shopping with a call to central reservations. Hybrid booking caused a drop in 2015 of the number of people who book online. The portion who book both offline and online jumped 5 percent.

“The increase in online/offline bookers is due to multiple factors, including mobile shopping (followed by offline purchasing, often via click-to-call), as well as the relatively fast growth of lodging, which is still predominantly offline,” reported Phocuswright.
The research firm forecasts online to continue to outpace the market through 2020, “but the growth gap is narrowing as the channel approaches dominance.” By 2020, online channels (including mobile) will account for 49 percent of the total, it said.