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No big surprises on Google Maps, but Booking.com outpaced rival Airbnb in downloads in the online travel agency category globally by nearly 20 million in 2021. That's not a game-changer, but it's important if Booking is going to eat into Airbnb's daunting direct-booking advantage.

Google Maps was the most-downloaded travel app in the world in 2021 with 106 million downloads, edging Uber, which held that distinction in 2020.

In fact transportation apps, including Google Maps, Uber, Didi, Bolt, Lyft, Where Is My Train, and Grab took seven of the top 10 positions in 2021, according to Apptopia.com.

Of course, you can argue that navigation and ridesharing apps aren’t “travel,” but they certainly bleed into the category. All of these apps are used by locals and travelers.

(See travel and online travel agency apps with the most downloads globally in two charts below.)

Download statistics aren’t purely a function of popularity; they also reflect how much marketing resources companies devote to attracting these installs.

In October, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent, Alphabet, said Google Maps added climate friendly routing in the U.S., enabling drivers to find routes that produce fewer emissions, and also rolled out a feature alerting drivers to wildfires.

Google Maps is way more than a navigation app and last year it introduced “easier ways for businesses to show the local services they offer, from hair extensions to auto repair,” Google Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler said at that time.

Online travel agency Booking.com (3), based in Europe, and short-term rental giant Airbnb (5), headquartered in the U.S., were the only two pure-play travel apps to make it into the list of top 10 travel apps by downloads globally in 2021.

When it came to the top 10 most-downloaded online travel agency apps globally in 2021, the top three were Booking.com, Airbnb, and Hopper, with the latter becoming much more mainstream over the last year.

Of the top 10 most-downloaded online travel agency apps around the world, Expedia Group accounted for four of them, namely Expedia (4), Vrbo (6), Trivago (7), and Hotels.com (tied for 8).

Expedia Group claims to be reorienting the company towards mobile.

“And then on the traveler side, we haven’t really been an app-first company,” Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern said at an investor conference in early December. “We will now be an app-first company, including all the goodness that comes with a tool that is with you for your whole trip, it keeps you informed, that keeps you informed in the shopping path.”

Booking Holdings secured two of the top 10 most-downloaded online travel agency apps, namely Booking.com (1) and Agoda (5). Booking’s Kayak brand didn’t make the top 10 as Expedia Group’s Trivago was the sole metasearch, or comparison shopping brand, in the mix.

Booking sees mobile as a major priority because it wants more direct bookings.

“The app is very strategic because not only is it a great booking experience because it’s clean and it’s on a phone, but it’s a very important piece of real estate,” Booking Holdings Chief Financial Officer David Goulden told investors and analysts last month. “Down the road, you think that app mobile users mean some people have hundreds of apps on their phone, but most people only use a couple of handfuls, maybe 20. And being one of those ones that are used a lot is a very powerful position to be and that app real estate is very important.”

Oyo, the India-based hotel-booking site and operator, broke into the top most-downloaded online travel agency apps around the world in 2021, tying Hotels.com in the eighth position with 12 million downloads.

Oyo CEO Ritesh Agarwal tweeted on Saturday that the company notched 503,000 room night bookings on December 30 and 31, and 58 percent of these New Year’s bookings were made on the same day of the stay, according to Zee News.

10 Most-Downloaded Travel Apps Globally 2021

AppDownloads
1. Google Maps106M
2. Uber94M
3. Booking.com63M
4. Google Earth57M
5. Airbnb44M
6. Didi27M
7. Bolt25M
8. Lyft23.3M
9. Where Is My Train23.1M
10. Grab23M

Source: Apptopia.com

Note: These statistics don’t adequately measure Chinese apps because Apptopia only collects iOS data from that country.

10 Most-Downloaded Online Travel Agency Apps Globally 2021

AppDownloads
1. Booking.com63M
2. Airbnb44M
3. Hopper19M
4. Expedia15M
5. Agoda14M
6. Vrbo13.4M
7. Trivago13M
8. Hotels.com12M
8. Oyo12M
9. Tripadvisor9.7M

Source: Apptopia.com

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Tags: airbnb, booking.com, google, google earth, google maps, tripadvisor, uber, vrbo

Photo credit: A page for Le Bernardin restaurant on Google Maps app. Google Maps was the most-downloaded travel app in 2021. Skift

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