New study reveals impact of smart phones on the travel market

New study reveals impact of smart phones on the travel market

The Mobile Travel report, a new study by leading independent media agency Total Media, has revealed the impact of mobile web usage on the travel sector.  In particular the study has identified how consumers use mobile in the planning process and what they really want from their mobiles when they travel.

How we use mobile on holiday today

The Mobile Travel report identified that less than 10% of men and even fewer women use their mobile phones to update their Facebook and Twitter profiles once they are on holiday. When also asked what they would be interested in doing in the future on a mobile phone whilst on holiday, most were not interested in using Facebook or Twitter. Instead people much prefer web services that connect them with other consumer recommendations and services that make their trip easier.

People want to use their phones to check flight times (around 18% of 16-to-24 year olds) and to book flights and hotels (15% of 16-34 year olds). But, above all, it is applications that offer an insight into their destination: weather reports, how to ask for coffee, restaurant reviews. More than 15 per cent of people in the 16-to-44 age profile are interested in an app for this purpose.

Falling roaming fees and tariffs have had a significant effect on our use of mobiles on holiday with 60% of women sending a text, 27% sending a MMS and 55% phoning home (compared to 47%, 24%  and 50% for men respectively).

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Mobile inspiration

Traditional forms of mobile communication, unsurprisingly, still lead when people plan their holiday; texting friends to ask their opinion (45% of 16-to-24-year olds) or phoning a friend for their opinion (42% of 25-to-34 year olds). But this is changing fast.

Mobile is no less of an inspiration device than a booking tool, with 14.7% of 16-to-24 year olds using the mobile internet to look for ideas and 11.2% of 25-to-34 year olds downloading a holiday-related app. Just under 13% of 16-34 year olds check travel prices and over 12% search for travel information using their mobiles.

Interestingly, men are twice more likely than women to use mobile internet, be it searching for the best price or downloading a travel app.

It is important to note however that the movement from traditional activities like voice and text to data driven web services is anything but uniform. There is a huge regional bias in adopting mobile for travel planning; a massive 20 per cent of people from the capital used their phone for travel ideas; less than 2 per cent did from the North East.

Growing importance of Apps

Total Media’s Mobile Travel report found that the majority of consumers would rather download a sponsored, travel related app just to get it for free (44%). The huge demand for sponsored apps provides a massive opportunity for brands. Free to the user, perhaps, but it is an excellent way for established brands to both cement their position in the market and engage with new customers in a fresh manner.

The paid for demand is also significant. Many consumers would pay, either one off (19%) for unlimited access or on a pay per usage basis (37%). This also shows that it does have the potential to be a new line of revenue, as well as a new route for communications. Interestingly, the people most likely to pay are younger consumers. For example, nearly 30% of 16-24s would pay a one off cost for an application guide book, whilst only 10% of 65+ would consider it.

Nick Oram, Managing Director, Total Media said: “Mobile is now a mainstream channel for travel brands and they need to embrace it, whether it’s through optimising a site for mobile usage, developing apps that provide holiday inspiration or sponsoring successful ones. The fact that older consumers are more attracted to the free, sponsored apps and young people will actually pay for valuable online content opens up a huge opportunity.”

He adds: “Destination companies of all types – hotels, restaurants, museums - must start to engage with real time and geographic mobile services. They should encourage reviews, buy advertising and engage with reviewers in an open way. This will increasingly define how people make decisions while on holiday. It is early days, but the opportunity to take the lead is massive.”

Total Media’s Mobile Travel Report is based on online self completion surveys carried out by 1,375 consumers over 16 years and who had travelled in the last 12 months. The research was carried out by Lightspeed research UK.