Study examines how mobile devices impact travel

Travellers rank complimentary WiFi as top hotel amenity

October 21, 2014
by Travel Management Canada staff

Young traveller

TORONTO–Online travel provider and Egencia®, the organization’s business travel brand, have released the results of the 2014 Mobile Index, a global study of mobile-device-related behaviour and preferences among travellers in North America, South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

The study revealed the deep dependence modern travellers have on their mobile devices – defined as a smartphone, tablet, e-reader, laptop or smartwatch. Worldwide, 94 percent of people bring at least one mobile device when they take personal vacations, and 97 percent bring at least one device on business trips; results were consistent for Canadians.

“We are entering a new era where people are moving fluidly across desktop, phone, tablet, even wearables as they dream, plan, book and then ultimately take their trip,” said Sean Shannon, managing director, Expedia Canada. “Travellers are not only researching and booking trips on mobile, but they’re also complimenting their meals, showcasing their adventures and capturing every trip detail. This is the new normal when it comes to travel.”

The survey takes a closer look at multi-device habits amongst both leisure and business travellers worldwide to better understand how technology is being used throughout the travel journey.

“For business travellers, mobile devices are increasingly required not only for getting the job done, but also for making corporate travel smoother and more productive. We wanted to understand more about how business travellers integrate mobile functionality into their trip so we can develop the best experience on whatever device they use,” says Rob Greyber, president of Egencia.

Mobile devices effectively serve as a concierge, guide and companion for travellers, who rely on smartphones and other mobile devices at every stage.
On the whole, 76 percent of global travellers say that their smartphones are “very important/critical” to their daily lives. Seventy percent say the same about their laptop and 48 percent say the same about their tablet device. Indians are the most dependent on smartphones, with 95 percent categorizing the device as “very important/critical.” The world’s least smartphone-dependent people can be found in Norway, where only 57 percent consider their smartphone to be critical/very important. Canadians report being in-between the two extremes with 67 percent saying their smartphone is a very important/critical aspect of their day-to-day.

When it comes to keeping connected, almost one in five (19 percent) of Canadians use their smartphones more when they travel than they do at home, almost half as much (35 percent) compared to other travellers around the world.

Complimentary WiFi Considered Top Hotel Perk
Given the ubiquity of mobile devices in travel, travellers increasingly prioritize WiFi accessibility. Fifty-six per cent of travellers worldwide report that WiFi availability and pricing impact their purchasing decision when booking travel, slightly more than noted by Canadian travellers (54 per cent). When asked to rank mobile-related hotel amenities, leisure travellers ranked “Complimentary WiFi” first, ahead of high-speed Internet access, wired in-room connectivity and a business center with computers and printers. Business travellers deem complimentary WiFi even more important, with 86 per cent of global travellers ranking it as very or somewhat important when booking a hotel for business travel. When it comes to Canadians, business travellers find complimentary WiFi even more important than their international counterparts with 89 per cent referencing this amenity as very or somewhat important.

When they are on the road, the following mobile app/device functions are the most frequently utilized by both leisure and business travellers around the world:

  • Email/messaging: 61 percent
  • Camera/video recording: 50 percent
  • Maps/navigation: 47 percent
  • Social media: 45 percent
  • Weather: 38 percent
  • Utility (alarm, calculator): 33 per cent
  • Entertainment: 24 percent

While laptops and desktop computers are the most common way to book travel, 78 percent of business travellers have used their smartphone in a travel planning capacity and 71 percent use tablets. The most common uses for both devices are managing itineraries (37 percent and 32 percent) and researching destinations (35 percent and 32 percent). Other popular activities are, shopping for hotels, receiving flight alerts and checking in for flights. Globally, 28 percent of employed adults who own a mobile device have used a smartphone or tablet to book a hotel.

The 2014 Mobile Index was commissioned by Expedia and conducted online by Northstar, a global research and consulting firm. The study was conducted among 8,556 employed adults across 25 countries.