Skift Take

Shifting consumer tastes in travel booking apps recently gave Hopper a boost over Booking.com and other rivals. But can the challenger brand sustain its lead?

Hopper appears to be going viral. In July, about 1.3 million U.S. consumers downloaded the mobile app for booking travel, giving the Montreal-based online travel agency a broader audience and a goldmine of user data.

Hopper had the most popular travel booking app in the first half of 2021 as measured by U.S. downloads in the Google Play and the Apple app stores, according to a report released by data analytics firm Sensor Tower. (For the report, go here.) American consumers downloaded the Hopper app more in July than apps from any other travel seller.

“There will be a Western global superapp for travel — it may be owned by Google, Facebook, or Alibaba, but it will be a superapp, and we’re trying to become that,” said Hopper CEO Frederic Lalonde at Skift Global Forum last week. (See Skift’s coverage.)

Together, Hopper and Booking.com each accounted for 27 percent of travel booking app downloads in the second quarter of 2021. Hopper grew its market share by eight percentage points in the quarter versus its 2020 level, while Booking.com’s share dropped by 3 points during the period.

Yet taken collectively, Expedia Group’s mobile apps (Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Hotwire) dominated the download chart in the first half of 2021.

Top Travel Booking Apps by Downloads

Rank App Owner
1. Hopper Hopper
2. Booking.com Booking Holdings
3. Expedia Expedia
4. Priceline Booking Holdings
5. Hotels.com Expedia
6. Orbitz Expedia
7. Travelocity Expedia
8. Tripadvisor Tripadvisor
9. Hotwire Expedia
10. Kayak Booking Holdings

*For first half 2021, U.S. downloads on Google Play and the Apple App Store.
Source: Sensor Tower

Hopper’s popularity surge is recent. During most of 2020, Booking.com’s app led the table rankings of downloads, Sensor Tower reckons. Since January, Hopper has been gaining on Booking.com, despite the latter’s larger historical spending on brand advertising.

Hopper’s word-of-mouth traction comes with uncharted risks. By putting Booking Holdings and Expedia Group on the defensive, the startup has provoked two of the world’s most accomplished performance and brand marketers to launch marketing blitzes against it. For more context, read Hopper CEO Hopes to Create a Google-Crushing Superapp for Travel.

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Tags: apps, booking holdings, expedia, hopper, mobile apps, priceline, travel apps, tripadvisor

Photo Credit: The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona offers an official park app. In the background, people at a scenic overlook with peak visible in the distance. Source: M.Quinn for the U.S. National Park Service

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