The US travel industry appears to be witnessing a huge shift towards mobile usage, with customers becoming all the more comfortable with browsing and booking holidays on their smartphones.

At the same time, paid traffic sources are on the slide, with investment in paid search and display ads falling, SimilarWeb suggests.

In its new study, titled ‘Trends in the Online Industry 2015-2016’, SimilarWeb looked into the traffic-driving activity of hotels and accommodation, airlines and airports, online travel agencies (OTAs), cruises and review sites between March 2015 and March 2016, finding some interesting results from what was gathered.

More mobile

Mobile traffic in the travel sector is on the rise, with rates increasing for all analysed categories, apart from travel recommendation sites.

Their share of visits from mobile web has fallen by almost 5% and most likely as a result of people giving preference to apps, the report suggests.

Hotels and accommodation along with OTAs saw a significant rise in mobile traffic (12.75% and 12.52% respectively), while the difference for airlines and cruises was just shy of 5%.

According to the research, cruises is the single category with mobile engagement declining consistently, which creates plenty of room for improvement.

Interestingly, a graph for the US travel sector on the whole is showing desktop far outperforming mobile in these stakes, with pages per visit up 32.15% year on year.

Paid traffic

Rates of traffic from many paid-for sources plummeted for most categories, with display ads taking the worst hit.

Travel recommendation sites were particularly affected by the trend, with a 98.94% decrease in referrals from paid search and 98.19% in display ads.

It’s not all doom and gloom for paid search, whose referrals rose slightly for hotels and accommodation (0.88%) as well as OTAs (17.58%).

This fell for the rest of the categories, though, with a smaller decrease of 2.39% for cruises and bigger for airlines (-36.32%).

Organic search and direct traffic, however, are more important in comparison to paid for airlines, as buyers visiting sites on their own accord are more likely to make a purchase, the study highlighted.

Display rates shrunk significantly for all categories, hitting OTAs the least (-36.48%), but being harsh on airlines (-89.20%), hotels (-70.60%) and cruises (-53.76%).