Travel Planning

Nearly 40 million US consumers accessed travel sites or apps from their smartphone in July 2012, reaching 37% of the smartphone population, according to comScore’s findings into US smartphone travel behaviours based on data from its comScore Mobile Metrix 2.0 service.

TripAdvisor Media Group led as the largest travel property with a smartphone audience of 6.7 million visitors, followed by Expedia Inc. with 6 million visitors and Southwest Airlines with 4.1 million visitors.

A demographic analysis revealed that women had a higher tendency than men to access OTA (Online Travel Agent) destinations on their smartphones, with Travelocity and Orbitz displaying the strongest gender skews among OTAs. Compared to the total travel category, females represented 14% more visitors to Expedia Inc., 12% more visitors to, and 22% more for Orbitz. The most evident gender difference among OTAs was demonstrated by Travelocity where 65.9% of the brand’s smartphone audience was female. Priceline was the only OTA among the top 15 properties where men accounted for the majority of visitors at 53.4%.

Analysis of the share of time spent across apps and browsers revealed that travel category engagement was more evenly distributed among browser and app access when compared to the total internet distribution. In July, 53% of minutes spent on Travel category content originated from apps, with browsers accounting for 47% of minutes. In contrast, 83% of all mobile content was consumed via apps with only 17% being accounted for by browser usage.

Among top airline sites and apps, males accounted for nearly 3 in 4 visitors to Delta Airlines, while Southwest Airlines saw females account for 3 in 5 visitors. Hotel brands also saw men and women engage differently. InterContinental Hotels Groups and Wyndham Worldwide saw women account for the majority of smartphone visitors, while Hilton saw men represent 66.8% of its smartphone audience. Among top hotel brands, Marriot saw the most even distribution of its audience between males and females. (comScore, August 2012)

What motivates a traveller when using smartphones or tablets is not necessarily the same thing as when using a desktop or laptop, according to a Nielsen study, commissioned by call-tracking provider Telmetrics and advertising network xAd. The study was a mix of a survey of 1,500 US smartphone and tablet users and observations of actual behaviour by 6,000 Apple and Android users.

Here are the key points:
– Smartphones are used more to find and contact businesses, while tablets are used more for research, price comparisons, and reviews. In travel, tablet users went directly to familiar sites and apps (46%) or apps and sites they had previously used (49%) more often than they used search engines (merely 15%).
– One out of every two queries in travel results in a purchase. Thirty-three percent of mobile travel searchers want to complete the transaction within the day.
– Two out of three mobile users notice ads. Local businesses and local promotions seemed the most relevant and received the most clicks.
– US mobile device owners prefer apps, spending 81% of their time in apps instead of the mobile web.

The survey reports corroborate what has been reported in a separate study of mobile usage by Keynote Systems. It also dovetails with a report by research firm eMarketer that mobile internet use accounts for 10% of US media use but attracts only 1% of overall advertising spending.

Clicke here for the full infographic. (tnooz talking travel tech, August 2012)

52% of travellers use social media for summer vacation inspiration, according to infographic courtesy of MDG Advertising.

Mobile devices are quickly becoming portable, pocket travel agents, offering instant access to airfare prices, contact information, flight schedules and bookings. Facebook is the traveller’s social network of choice, with 29% using this platform for holiday inspiration, ahead of  TripAdvisor (14%), Twitter (6%) and Pinterest (4%).

Top mobile flight-related activities while planning a trip:
– Checked airfare prices: 26%
– Looked up a phone number: 25%
– Checked flight schedules: 25%
– Researched airport information: 24%
– Received price alerts for flights: 19%
– Booked a flight: 18%

Top mobile hotel-related activities while planning a trip:
– Looked up hotel address or directions: 29%
– Researched things to do at the destination: 23%
– Read a hotel review: 22%
– Compared hotel prices and availability: 21%
– Booked a hotel room: 18%
– Received price alerts for hotels: 18%

Once a trip is booked, social media users turn to Facebook to post about their upcoming trip and find more information about their destination. 52% ‘liked’ a page specific to an upcoming vacation. 59% posted a status about an upcoming vacation.

Travellers using a mobile device to check flight status:
– 2011: 30%
– 2012: 50%

Travellers using a mobile device to check in for a flight:
– 2011: 17%
– 2012: 30%

Among travelling social media users, 74% use social media while on vacation.

Top ways travellers use mobile devices on vacation:
– Keep in touch: 68%
– Take pictures or video: 48%
– Schedule wake-up times: 46%
– Make reservations: 30%
– Find directions to attractions: 25%

Other ways travellers use mobile on vacation:
– Look up reviews for local businesses
– Translate languages
– Play games
– Calculate tips

After returning from a vacation…:
– 76% post vacation photos to a social network
– 55% ‘like’ Facebook pages specific to a vacation
– 46% post hotel reviews
– 40% post activity or attraction reviews
– 40% post restaurant reviews

(mediabistro, August 2012)

Mobile devices, with their flexibility and convenience, have the potential to streamline a number of facets of business travel, such as bookings, itineraries and expenses. But smartphone-owning US business travellers are also interested in a number of post-check-in hotel services provided via mobile, according to a June 2012 survey of smartphone-owning US business travellers by software provider Smith Micro.

Fully 79% of business travellers said they would avail themselves of check-in and checkout services offered on mobile.

Hotel services that US business travellers would use if made available via mobile devices, June 2012 (% of respondents):
– Checking in & out: 79%
– Special offers and discounts: 75%
– Guest services: 68%
– Business services: 54%
– None: 5%

The research also found sizeable majorities of business travellers who would take advantage of discounts or other deals received via mobile, as well as guest and business services offered on mobile. When it came to services currently used by business travellers, almost all (95%) were using high-speed internet. And half said they were using a hotel’s business services. (eMarketer, July 2012)

US vacationers feel anxious when travelling without their mobile computing device, angry when they cannot access power sources to charge these devices and annoyed when others take uninvited glimpses of their computer screens, potentially compromising their personal information,  according to a survey, “Tech Norms for Travelers” conducted by Intel Corporation and commissioned by TNS to explore American attitudes towards travel and technology.

The survey exposes the deepening love affair between travellers and their devices revealing Americans feel an emotional bond with their mobile devices to the point of feeling calmer and less stressed when they have access to this technology while vacationing:
– Nearly half of all travelers feel anxious without their mobile computing device.
– Nearly three-quarters of young Americans admit to suffering “outlet outrage” when traveling.
– “Peeping-tech” behaviors rank amongst travelers’ top peeves while almost half fear device heists.

Today’s traveller has increased expectations and views each connected minute as invaluable, desiring to create, consume and share safely with a mobile device that is easy on the eye, and the back, with style and design paired with performance and long battery life. (Aboutourism, June 2012)

US travellers head online as summer vacation approaches, according to a report by Nielsen. Whether consumers were making their plans for summer vacation or simply finding their way around town, over half of internet users visited Travel websites in April 2012.

Google Maps was the top web brand in the category during April, with 79 million unique US visitors, followed by other popular mapping sites like Mapquest (29.6 million) and Yahoo! Local (15.2 million). Visitors to Google Maps returned frequently, visiting the site about 5 times each on average, logging well over 1 billion pageviews on the site. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, May 2012)

The internet remains the leading source for travel planning information in the US, according to the Traveler’s Road to Decision 2011 by thinktravel with Google. The report found that 85% US personal travellers (up from 79% in 2009) used the internet as travel planning sources, against 78% among business travellers.

Travel planning sources:
– Internet: 85% among personal travellers / 78% among business travellers
– Family, friends, or colleagues: 60% / 38%
– Information brochures: 32% / 28%
– Magazines: 24% / 25%
– TV: 22% / 26%
– Travel agents: 18% / 36%
– Books: 18% / 19%
– Newspapers: 12% / 19%
– 800 or toll-free number: 11% / 23%
– Travel groups: 10% / 20%
– Radio: 7% / 14%

The report also found that:
– Use of mobile phones for travel info is growing significantly year on year; 51% among business traveller and 27% among personal travellers.
– Search remains the number 1 planning source for personal travel
– 43% of affluent travellers report that the internet prompted them to book (up from 38% in 2010)
– 54% of business travellers have downloaded a travel-related app onto their mobile phone
– Over 30% of personal travellers have watched a travel-related video on their mobile device in the past year
– 68% of business travellers watch travel-related videos (on desktop or mobile device), up from 56% two years ago.
(Thinkinsights, January 2012)

Chicago has become one of the hottest tourist destinations in the US, thanks mainly to its visitor site’s use of cutting edge technologies and social media to market it., the City of Chicago’s Official Tourism site, has surpassed 6 million visits in 2011, the highest annual total since its 2009 launch and a 40% increase over last year.

In December 2011, Google invited to provide Chicago tourism and travel content for its new magazine and trends reader, Google Currents.

Recent additions to and other highlights include:
– A popular blog, launched in April 2011 to provide a unique insider’s point of view of the city;
– Events, tours and attractions, searchable by date, neighbourhood and interest areas;
– Social media travel tools including free visitor assistance via Twitter (@explorechicago);
– Fun, location-based games including 11 free SCVNGR treks and Foursquare badges;
– Multimedia content such as videos, slideshows, podcasts and an itinerary builder.

(TravelMole, December 2011)

US business travellers do much of their travel planning through their managed travel programs, but once they are on the road they do a lot of research on their mobile devices in-destination, according to the findings of a PhoCusWright study, sponsored by Rearden Commerce, on business travellers’ use of mobile.

With 84% reporting using smart phones for business use during travel, participants indicated their top three travel-related activities via mobile phone today are focused on location: mapping or finding directions (80%); researching local activities (63%); and researching destination information (55%).

The traveller’s propensity to act on that location-based information via mobile phone is substantial, with 30% reporting they would like to receive personalized offers specific to their destination.

In one of the most interesting findings of the survey, 42% of business travellers indicated they access the mobile Web on their devices of choice to perform tasks that they wouldn’t ordinarily do on their desktops. Some of this mobile-only activity included receiving flight-related alerts, tracking their travel spending and consulting their reservation information, according to Allison Jeannotte, Rearden’s social media director.

75% of business travellers responded that they go online using their mobile phones. (tnooz, November 2011)

44% of US travellers plan on using their mobile phone or smartphone more as a travel resource during trips in 2012, according to TripAdvisor’s annual travel trends survey of more than 2,700 US travellers.

Some of the findings from TripAdvisor’s 2012 Travel Trends Forecast are as follows:
– 47% expect to use their mobile device for their travel needs at their destination.
– 37% will use a mobile device for restaurants research, 27% will use one for attractions research, and 26% will use one for accommodations research.
– 31% plan to use travel apps on their mobile device or smartphone in 2012.
– 16% plan to use travel apps on their tablet devices.

For their part, travel marketers continue to evaluate how travellers are consuming content for their travel requirements. The biggest influence on how content is consumed and its influence on consumers in making travel decisions is perhaps due to rich media, video and easy-to-use reservation tools. Used right, these can combine to provide flair (engagement) and functionality (getting the task done), resulting in more bookers.

Recently, SITA stated that the industry is entering the era of the mobile-centric passenger, who is not only able to manage his or her journey independently but also expects personal and timely communication from airlines, airports and other providers of travel-related services. Smartphone penetration is opening up new frontiers for passenger self-service across key steps of the passenger journey from check-in to boarding. Technology on mobile devices, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, can be used to improve passenger flow, alleviating areas of passenger concern such as queues at border control and security.

Hoteliers, too, acknowledge that there are plenty of apps in the marketplace as of today. Initiatives are being taken to engage users, rather than just offering booking-oriented options. For instance, recently, Hilton Garden Inn launched BizWords, a new interactive iPhone/iPad app, to help business travellers better navigate business jargon and acronyms that have become common in the workplace. (eyefortravel, November 2011)

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About hospitalitytechnology

Technology is making greater and greater inroads into our lives. Right from when we wake up in the morning to when we head to sleep – we cannot imagine a life without the gadgets and gizmos that make life easy and interesting. When we travel and stay in hotels, our expectations are no different. We expect all the technological amenities we easily access at home if not more. The hospitality industry in increasingly accessing technology to wow guests, optimize their use of manpower, control hotel functions in an integrated manner and on the whole reduce costs while increasing efficiency. This blog is meant to track these technological changes happening in the hospitality sector. The growing move towards sophisticated hotel ERP, the growing use of cloud computing, the rapidly changing customer facing devices – smart phones and iPads, the increasing security concerns and more. Expect to find interesting articles, whitepapers, thoughts, and observations. Feel free to comment and even mail us content that you don’t mind posted here. Happy reading!
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