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Travel Tech

We've all seen media stories hyping the concept of mobile phone addiction. Well, regardless of whether or not this nebulous concept has any basis, what is becoming increasingly clear is that everyday people are using their mobile phones more and more for a wide variety of different reasons.

This has been confirmed recently by a study carried out by the online travel business Expedia. This 25 nation study reveals that there are high levels of dependence, and even anxiety, experienced by travellers with regard to mobile devices. The report paints a picture of a generation of travellers that are absolutely attached to mobile devices.

Travellers Mobile Addiction

According to the Expedia study, on a worldwide basis 94 percent of people take at least one mobile device with them when they embark on personal vacations. This is a pretty large figure in itself, but it expands even further when dealing with business travel. Virtually all business travellers bring at least one mobile device with them on business trips, with 97 percent reporting in the Expedia survey that they always travelled with a mobile.

The Expedia survey also noted that mobile phones are not merely a device to be used ahead of a trip, in order to both research and book travel, but are also being massively used during the trips themselves. Mobile platforms are increasingly a viable way for people to book meals and to make connections and complaints with travel operators and providers. Additionally, the advanced photograph taking and video capturing technology included in modern smartphones mean that they represent the ideal medium for capturing every aspect of a trip for posterity.

More than three-quarters of travellers report that their smartphones are either very important or critical in their daily lives. And this shouldn't be viewed as he only a Western phenomenon. Indeed, in the Expedia survey, Indian people were the most dependent on smartphones, with a staggering 95 percent considering such devices to be very important or critical to their daily existence.

Not only are travellers utilising smartphones, but increasingly they are using them more during trips than in their everyday lives, despite the fact that it has been established that smartphones are important to people on a daily basis. Over one-third (35 percent) of the world’s travellers in fact use smartphones more often when travelling than they do in their daily lives.

Wi-Fi Critical

This growing dependence on mobile is reflected in the fact that a majority (56 percent) of the travelers that responded to Expedia stated that Wi-Fi availability and pricing actually impacts their purchasing decisions for both flights and hotels. And many adults are using mobile phones in order to make travel bookings, with 28 percent of those surveyed by Expedia professing that they had utilised a mobile device to make such a booking.

Mobiles have become so central to the holiday experience that losing a mobile device is actually considered as big a fear as losing one's luggage. Only losing a passport, losing money or losing a travel companion was considered to be more serious. Perhaps we shouldn't read too much into the fact that losing money and passports was considered more of a concern that losing a travel companion…

Travellers engage in a wide variety of mobile activities while on a trip. The most popular is still e-mailing and messaging, but this is closely followed by photography and video recording, which was engaged in regularly by 50 percent of the travellers surveyed. Nearly as many people access social media, underlining a message that the Digital Tourism Think Tank has expressed many times previously. The link between mobile and social media cannot be underestimated, and digital travel marketers should pay close heed to this trend.

Despite the importance of mobile for travellers, a relatively small percentage of the surveyed tranche profess to be interested in international roaming plans. Only 35 percent of travellers seemingly purchase such schemes, although again people from India topped the list, with over two-thirds of the nation signing up to this particular service.

The dependency of travellers on mobile is underlined by a recent phenomenon in Chongqing city, China. This is one of the most important cities in the world's second largest economy, with a population of over 28 million people. Mobile phone addiction has become so ingrained here that addicts have actually been provided with their own lane on the pavement, albeit this was a slightly humorous campaign.

What this mobile addiction is a symptom of is the attachment that people feel to mobile devices. Mobile has become essential to the travelling experience, and it is absolutely critical for businesses within the tourism and hospitality industries to create a website which is optimised for mobile.

Developing Marketing Strategies

Additionally, marketers should look to develop content strategies which are based on mobility, localisation and immediacy. Social media compatibility should also be considered an absolute must, and if possible creating a community feel via social media is extremely valuable. Thus, Photo and video sharing should be at the centre of any mobile strategy. Travellers also want concrete information from mobile platforms, so information such as maps and weather reports are particularly valuable.

Travellers in general, and particularly the key millennials group, are becoming more mobile-oriented and more social in their attitude to tourism, and this should be strongly reflected in the digital strategy of travel-related businesses in future.

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