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 into their phones. Heck, there’s a new primetime television show, Selfie, about the mobile trend of the same name. We’ve even noticed mobile exploding on Expedia.com, where 20 percent (and rising) of bookings are done via smartphone or tablet.
Increasingly these trends have made us interested in the mobile-device behaviors and preferences of travelers. Naturally, then, we, along with the business travel brand of Expedia, Egencia, recently teamed up with Northstar to conduct a study of mobile behaviors and preferences.
The study, dubbed the 2014 Expedia Mobile Index, was conducted among 8,856 employed adults across 25 countries, and was meant to uncover mobile behaviors, trends, and preferences among travelers. 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 percent of business travelers bring along at least one device on each trip, we were shocked to find that nearly the same number of leisure travelers—94 percent—said they do the same.
In short, mobile devices are the be-all for travelers: part organizer, part concierge, and in some ways, part companion. The study revealed that 76 percent of travelers consider their smartphone to be critical to their daily lives. This number varies by culture; in India, a whopping 95 percent of respondents categorize their mobile device as critical, while in Norway, only 57 percent feel the same. That stat is even more interesting when you consider that Norway is ranked among the happiest countries in the world, year after year
But while the 2014 Expedia Mobile Index revealed a lot about mobile dependency, it revealed just as much about etiquette. Respondents had a lot to stay about technology etiquette violations, many of which we’ve all probably been guilty at one point or another. Some of these violations could be avoided simply by investing in headphones; Making calls on a speakerphone (53 percent) and playing multimedia without headphones (47 percent) ranked as the top two. Rounding out the list at 18 percent are those who take photos/video of their food.
Other technology-fueled etiquette violations considered offensive if done in public:
- Making calls on speakerphone: 53%
- Playing music/games/videos without headphones 47%
- Taking photos/videos of strangers: 42%
- Making calls while in restaurant: 36%
- Video calls/FaceTime/Skype: 27%
- Loud mobile device alerts: 26%
- Messaging/emailing at seated performance/activity: 24%
- Photographing food during meal: 18%
Above all, what travelers want out of technology is convenience. WiFi continues to be one of the most important amenities for today’s traveler. About 86 percent of travelers rate WiFi as important when booking a hotel, with “complimentary WiFi” being ranked above business centers, 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 percent of business travelers have used a smartphone in some travel-planning capacity, compared to 71 percent on tablets. The most common uses for both devices are managing itineraries (37 and 32 percent, respectively) and researching destinations (35 and 32 percent, respectively). But booking hotels isn’t far behind; globally, 28 percent 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 travelers.