Smartphones and tablets are on track to capture nearly one in five online travel dollars by 2014.

U.S. mobile leisure/unmanaged business travel bookings will hit nearly $26 billion in 2014 — more than tripling since 2012 — estimates travel research firm PhoCusWright.

“Everyone knows mobile activity is booming, but it’s hard for companies to know where they stand when growth rates are so high,” said Cathy Schetzina, senior analyst at PhoCusWright. “In fact, mobile bookings will increase so quickly over the next two years that a 40% growth rate can mean you’re falling behind.”

While using a mobile phone to purchase travel products is not yet mainstream, the share of travelers who have done so is clearly growing.

In 2012, three in 10 mobile Web users booked and/or purchased travel products such as hotel rooms or flights via their mobile phone — up from 26% in 2011, according to PhoCusWright.

By comparison, more than eight in 10 mobile Web users viewed maps/directions via a mobile phone, while over half researched travel destinations or products. Beyond mobile, U.S. travel ecommerce sales are booming. Indeed, online travel sales reached $103 billion last year, according to data released earlier this week by comScore.

Air travel accounted for nearly two-thirds of all travel spending, which was up 10% from 2011, according to comScore.

“Travel is a leading online commerce category, and despite being a pioneer in the sector 15 years ago, it is still growing at nearly double-digit growth rates and remains very competitive,” said John Mangano, VP of comScore Marketing Solutions for Retail and Travel.
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