It’s no secret that we live in a mobile-driven society. Just take a look around you the next time you’re eating out or at the airport on your next trip—everyone is looking at their phones. Heck, there’s a new primetime television show, Selfie, about the mobile trend of the same name.
Increasingly these trends have made us interested in the mobile-device behaviours and preferences of travellers. Naturally, then, we, along with the business travel brand of Expedia.ca, Egencia, recently teamed up with Northstar to conduct a study of mobile behaviours and preferences.
The study, dubbed the 2014 Expedia.ca Mobile Index, was conducted among 8,856 employed adults across 25 countries, and was meant to uncover mobile behaviors, trends, and preferences among travellers. We found that people are becoming increasingly dependent on their mobile devices (phone, tablet, wearable devices, etc.). While we weren’t surprised to find that 97 per cent of business travellers bring along at least one device on each trip, we were shocked to find that nearly the same number of leisure travellers—94 per cent—said they do the same.
In short, mobile devices are the be-all for travellers: part organizer, part concierge, and in some ways, part companion. The study revealed that 76 per cent of travellers consider their smartphone to be critical to their daily lives. This number varies by culture; in India, a whopping 95 per cent of respondents categorize their mobile device as critical, while in Norway, only 57 per cent feel the same. Canadians report being in-between the two extremes with 67 per cent saying their smartphone is a very important aspect of their day-to-day.
But while the 2014 Expedia.ca Mobile Index revealed a lot about mobile dependency, it revealed just as much about convenience, confirming that what travellers want most out of technology is convenience. WiFi continues to be one of the most important amenities for today’s traveller. About 86 per cent of travellers rate WiFi as important when booking a hotel, with “complimentary WiFi” being ranked above business centres, wired Internet, and other business amenities.
Finally, people are using their mobile phone and tablets in every part of the travel experience, from researching and planning to documenting trips. According to study responses, more than 78 per cent of business travellers have used a smartphone in some travel-planning capacity, compared to 71 per cent on tablets. The most common uses for both devices are managing itineraries (37 and 32 per cent, respectively) and researching destinations (35 and 32 per cent, respectively). But booking hotels isn’t far behind; globally, 28 per cent of employed adults who own a mobile device have used a smartphone or tablet to book a hotel.
As dependency on mobile devices increases, it’s no surprise to see this trend following suit for travel. When people are outside their comfort zones, they rely on the familiarity and accuracy that their mobile devices can provide. Just make sure that when you hold fast to your phone or tablet on your next journey, you’re also being respectful to other travellers.