Research Insights Most Travelers Own a Smartphone... Now What?

Most Travelers Own a Smartphone... Now What?

February 2012
David Juman

Most Travelers Own a Smartphone... Now What?

It's official: smartphones are no longer cutting edge. They are conventional. More than half of all leisure travelers and nearly three in four business travelers now own a smartphone, according to new, comprehensive analysis of mobile traveler behavior from Phocuswright. But as travel companies aim to engage this broad audience, mobile Web users are becoming increasingly fragmented and harder to reach. New users are connecting through multiple platforms, as mobile functionality reinvents itself daily. And aggressive multi-channel mobile strategies yield heaps of websites and apps that do the exact same thing. The result is that for travel merchants and marketers, smartphone owners remain an enormous, but still highly elusive target.

According to Phocuswright's Mobile Hits the Mainstream: Leisure and Business Travel Trends (a Global Edition publication), 28% of leisure travelers who conduct travel-related activities via the mobile Web only use mobile websites to do so, while 72% use some combination of mobile websites and apps (none use apps exclusively). And this channel mix changes significantly, depending on whether consumers employ smartphones to research or book travel, or to engage in post-purchase activities. Owners of smartphones with different operating systems also behave differently. BlackBerry users conduct an average of 4.5 travel-related mobile Web activities per year, while Apple users are typically more engaged with 5.7.

"It's time the travel industry got past the idea of mobile as just a piece of hardware. It's a maturing medium, with different travelers engaging in different ways for different reasons," says Carroll Rheem, director, research at Phocuswright. "Travel companies need to understand these subtle, but crucial trends, in order to attract and captivate their mobile audience."

Phocuswright's Mobile Hits the Mainstream: Leisure and Business Travel Trends, is a multi-component study that examines how U.S. leisure and business travelers integrate the mobile Internet into their everyday lives, as well as when they travel. Along with metrics that detail smartphone adoption and mobile Web usage, this report provides in-depth analysis of how consumers use smartphones across three distinct phases of the travel lifecycle – research/shopping, booking and post-purchase activities. The study highlights key travel segments (air, hotel, car and local activities) and outlines consumer behavior by channel preference (websites/apps) and timing of activities.

The report includes:
  • Smartphone adoption by leisure and business travelers, as well as traveler age
  • Mobile operating system penetration by OS type, including future purchase intentions
  • Key metrics on mobile Internet usage, such as frequency of usage, as well as situations and settings in which travelers access the mobile Internet
  • Analysis of the activities that travelers engage in via the mobile Web, along with their attitudes toward functions that involve location-sharing, providing personal information, conducting financial transactions and more
  • Travel-related activities conducted by leisure and business travelers via mobile phone, including research, purchase and post-purchase activities
  • Detailed examination of how leisure and business travelers use smartphones and the mobile Internet to plan and book travel products, including air, hotel, car rental and local activities
  • Use of mobile websites versus applications for travel-related activities, including types of sites and apps, factors that drive usage, frustrations and interest in future mobile Internet capabilities for travel
  • Leisure and business travel spend by smartphone ownership, operating system and mobile booking profile

Phocuswright's Mobile Hits the Mainstream: Leisure and Business Traveler Trends (US$895) helps companies keep up with this rapidly evolving platform and hone their strategies for new frontiers in mobile communication and commerce.