More Travelers Are Going Mobile

The number of consumers accessing travel information via mobile devices while on holiday has doubled in the last year, according to a global survey of 1,700 people carried out by digital travel content specialists, Frommer’s Unlimited. The new survey shows that 52 percent of respondents said that they were most likely to access travel information on their mobile devices when travelling, compared to 27 percent in 2010. Respondents aged between 18 and 34 are the biggest advocates, with 72 percent of this age group accessing mobile travel content on holiday, compared to only 48 percent in 2010.

The Frommer’s Unlimited 2011 Digital Travel Content and User Experience Consumer Survey revealed the top six types of mobile travel content that consumers want when on holiday. The most important function is seeing points of interest like attractions, restaurants and shops on a map (57 percent), followed by key phrases in local languages (55 percent), local offers (51 percent), itineraries and walking tours (50 percent), local etiquette and customs (49 percent) and tipping and currency converters (45 percent).
The 18-34 age bracket expressed an increased interest in accessing information related to local etiquette and customs and it ranked as the third most important type of content for this age group.

Giles Longhurst, Frommer’s Unlimited director for Europe, Middle East and Africa unveiled the survey results at the Travel Distribution Summit organized by Eye For Travel in London on May 11, 2011.

“The rise of the smartphone and the launch of the iPad since our last survey have clearly led to a more prominent demand for mobile content,” said Longhurst. “Consumers are expecting instant, sophisticated travel content and, more often than not, they are relying on this content to guide them through an unknown destination. Businesses need to respond to this by bypassing the gimmicks and offering reliable and trustworthy mobile travel content that can offer immediate up-to-date answers to the questions that consumers have when on holiday.”

When selecting a holiday destination, respondents rated “things to do” (92 percent) as the most influential factor, followed by “price” (86 percent). This suggests that consumers are feeling more economically stable than last year when “price” was rated as the most influential factor.

In terms of influencing holiday decision making, the survey revealed that user reviews on travel websites and travel guidebooks are equally important with 81 percent of consumers considering them very influential. Editorial content on travel websites came in a close second with 80 percent. Social media has become more notably more important in holiday decision-making, with 36 percent of respondents considering online social networks as influential, compared to 22 percent in 2010. This indicates that using social media as a means of planning travel will be increasingly important to businesses.

Businesses should also look to engage with holidaymakers via social networks when they return home as over half (51 percent) of all respondents indicated they are likely to post a hotel review online, and over one third of all respondents would post travel photos (38 percent) or share travel experiences on Facebook (33 percent).

The survey revealed that travelers are increasingly more reliant on digital content in all phases of the travel cycle, considering many types of information as influential to their decision-making than in prior surveys. The most common time to look for destination information online continues to be before deciding where to go (93 percent), however, over 77 percent now look for destination information online when booking accommodation and flights, compared to less than 48 percent in 2010. There have also been significant rises in demand for destination content after booking but before leaving, while on holiday and after returning, Frommer’s Unlimited said.

When planning a holiday consumers ranked “description destinations” and “special offers and deals” as the most important travel content, with 88 percent each. At the booking stage, “maps of destinations” (83 percent), is the most important closely followed by airport transportation information and city or resort guides (81 percent each). After booking but before travelling, consumers rated weather as the most important information (85 percent), followed by attractions, events and maps (84 percent each).

Despite this increased demand for more mobile travel content, consumers continue to encounter many negative experiences on travel websites. The most common problems are confusing websites, poor site navigation and insufficient destination information, with 58 percent each. This suggests that, by addressing these common complaints, businesses could benefit from opportunities to engage successfully with consumers before, during and after their holiday.