SINGAPORE: South East Asia is leading the world in travel booking from mobile devices, recent research has revealed.

According to performance marketing firm Criteo, nearly a third (30%) of online travel bookings in the past 12 months in South-east Asia were made from a mobile phone. Worldwide, the average proportion of online travel bookers purchasing via mobile is 23%, with the wider Asia-Pacific region at 27%.

Mobile apps, meanwhile, are generating 49% of mobile-based bookings, up from 12% just one year ago. Airbnb, the holiday accommodation app, has seen a similarly meteoric trajectory: the number of Asian customers making mobile bookings now is 60 times that when it launched in 2013.

Mobile is now a critical lead driver and travel brands operating in the region, such as Resorts World Sentosa, Expedia and Starwood hotel group, have all refined their mobile offer to move beyond simply securing tickets and hotel reservations to find ways in which they can use mobile to grow their business.

South East Asian customers expect a one-stop shop at their fingertips, with real-time prices, booking availability and cashless payment options available at the tap of the smartphone screen. Brands prioritizing a mobile-optimized user experience have immediate payoff – smartphones account for almost half (47%) of same-day hotel bookings.

"We are investing in technology to enable our hotel partners to reach travellers in the way that they want to shop," said Mieke De Schepper, vp/Asia-Pacific at the Expedia Group, in comments to the Straits Times.

"The speed of innovation is faster than ever and the industry needs to focus on being nimble," she added.

Data sourced from Straits Times, Criteo; additional content by Warc staff