Brazil’s leisure travel industry has seen intense growth. Higher income levels and expanded air capacity have brought scores of new middle class leisure travelers to the market, while also boosting spending among seasoned, wealthier vacationers, according to a new eMarketer report, “Brazil Digital Travel: Lookers Abound, but Bookers Are Less Common”
With consumers in Brazil taking to the internet in large numbers to research and plan their trips, online travel agency, airline and hotel websites are seeing traffic increases. But online travel researchers are not necessarily online travel buyers. Consumer concerns about privacy and security are holding back many travel researchers from actually booking online, according to some experts.
Still, roughly a quarter of travel sales in Brazil are being transacted online, a share that is expected to grow as consumers become more comfortable with online booking. Meanwhile, overall travel sales are expected to spike in 2014 thanks to the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, which will take place in 12 host cities spread widely across the country. Digital travel sales are projected to grow by 34.2% during the year, helped by futebol-mad Brazilians racing from site to site to witness the competition.
In a country where much of the new internet usage is coming through mobile phones, the mobile internet is likely to have a significant impact on the travel sector. But for now, most mobile travel activity seems to consist of pre-booking and on-the-go research.
TripAdvisor and StrategyOne’s September 2013 “TripBarometer” poll found that 95% of 18 to 24-year-olds in Brazil used mobile devices while traveling. This higher user penetration among young consumers, coupled with the younger demographics’ higher predisposition to spend on travel “points to an important nexus where marketers can target their advertising and outreach,” said Sam Thompson, TripAdvisor’s commercial director for the Americas.
A January 2013 edition of the same study focused on usage, and showed that 59% of internet users in Brazil browsed the web via mobile devices while traveling, and 44% used those devices to find local activities.
The challenge facing travel vendors in Brazil seems to be converting these mobile travel researchers into buyers. “High internet and mobile internet uptake in Brazil have generated much demand, but vendors haven’t been able to keep up and roll out a shopping experience that converts consumers on the mobile platform,” said Hotel Urbano executive Bruce Hogan.
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