Research into the online and mobile travel behaviour of South African travellers reveals that, although they are increasingly turning to the Internet to book directly with service providers, they still value brick-and-mortar travel agencies.

The Africa travel research study was conducted by strategy consultancy Inquisition on behalf of Amadeus to explore existing mobile usage behaviour within the travel experience across the African continent. It surveyed 2 500 people through mobile phones across seven countries: Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa. These were people who had travelled up to 12 months prior to the study and in the 18 to 44 year old age range.

The same study revealed a high percentage of travellers still prefer to book with travel agents, but with those that offer online and mobile solutions from pre-booking travel research to booking and posting reviews.

Almost half of South African travellers want to plan and book their hotel stay on their mobile phone. If their travel plans are disrupted, they want to be able to make the necessary changes on the go. Their ideal app also offers local maps and directions. And, if the hotel isn’t up to standard or they feel the service they receive falls short, travellers want to be able to post a review on the spot.

Although security concerns remain a deterrent, South African travellers have also indicated they are ready to pay for hotels and accommodation, dining out and flight bookings on their mobile phones. The research indicates that 53% of South African travellers have previously paid on their mobile phones, and that they will like to continue to do so.

Interestingly, whereas the vast majority of African travellers book their travel less than a month in advance, 38% of South African travellers say they book their trip between one and three months in advance.

The South African travel agent still has a role to play especially if they incorporate an online component to their businesses, says Andrew Shaw, head of online at Amadeus Africa.

“In the digital era, buyers are increasingly shopping through their laptops, desktops and mobile devices and travel is no exception. Travel agents who embrace this trend and evolve by ramping up their omni-channel retail technology will therefore benefit greatly.”