Only a few decades ago, consumers most often booked either directly with suppliers or through bricks-and-mortar travel agencies. Then the Internet gave rise to the OTAs that have by now become household names — Orbitz, Expedia, Priceline, etc. But while these businesses were born on the desktop Internet, their mobile presence has become increasingly important to their revenue picture. In other industries such as retail, businesses that ignored mobile have lost their relevance to consumers. Online travel businesses face the same risk. Google predicted that U.S.-based searches for hotel rooms on mobile would rise 68% in 2013, even as desktop searches declined. Searches on tablets, meanwhile, were expected to rise by 180%. Tablets appear to be particularly important to the search piece of the online travel industry. This squares with travellers being higher-income consumers more likely to own tablets, as well as tablets’ larger screens being more friendly to the intensive search sessions typical of online travel research. “Mobile is an absolutely critical piece of our strategy. Long term, it’s the center of everything we’re doing,” says Joost Schreve, TripAdvisor’s vice president of mobile, in an exclusive interview with BI Intelligence. But no matter how much suppliers and OTAs invest in mobile, a new sales channel always means plenty of market share comes up for grabs, and that provides a window of opportunity to some of the newest players in the travel space. Some of them, like HotelTonight, are mobile-only. Others, like Airbnb, straddle the mobile and desktop channels but were born in the mobile age, meaning mobile has always been integrated into their services. Get the full report at Business Insider