Travel consumers are “shifting to mobile” but most still prefer booking on a desktop, online analytics group Hitwise has reported

Nigel Wilson, Hitwise chief operating officer, told the Travolution European Summit in London: “Consumers are shifting. Mobile is growing, but not across all touchpoints of the journey.”

Wilson said: “Consumers still prefer booking on a desktop. Mobile accounts for 52% of overall time on travel sites, but only 15% of booking time.”

He reported that 64% of UK visits to tour operator websites in August were via mobile, 60% of hotel site visits, 57% of metasearch site visits, 53% of online travel agency (OTA) visits and 42% of airline site visits.

These figures showed little change from January other than growth in mobile’s share of traffic to metasearch sites, which Wilson said was driven by Tripadvisor.

But he noted: “People are returning more often to metasearch sites. Metasearch is increasingly becoming a checkpoint.”

Wilson reported 12% of travel metasearch visitors click through to an OTA, 4.6% to a tour operator, 4.2% to an airline and 1.2% to a hotel.

However, OTAs showed the highest rate of visitors returning to a metasearch site (14.4%), compared with tour operators (8.6%), airlines (7.5%) and hotels (7.1%).

Tour operator sites drew the longest average ‘dwell time’ (eight minutes) while the average metasearch visitor spent five minutes on the site.

Richard Harris, Intent Media co-founder and chief executive, said: “The Hitwise data tells you the OTA model is incomplete. It should be opening up to more of a marketplace model. That is exactly what Amazon is doing.”

Intent Media assesses site users’ propensity to buy and targets advertising accordingly, displaying adverts for competitor sites if a visitor appears poised to click away.

Harris argued this creates revenue for the site and provides a better user experience.

He told the summit: “We’re moving from a pull to a push environment – moving towards getting relevant things in front of you before you are even aware you want them.”