April 26, 2017
 

Smartphones have become an indispensable travel companion today, with the devices being carried for work, back home and on trips. too. Business travellers, in particular, are making the most of the smartphones for being connected to their home office. The more one uses the device for prioritizing work and personal life, the more one's vacation experience can be improved.

Findings by Egencia/Expedia Mobile Behavior Report last year indicated that 56% Indian travelers were addicted to their mobile devices, while 36% Indians carried a rechargeable pack/case/portable charger/spare battery to use as a backup when travelling.
45% of connected travellers usually use their smartphones to book activities for a trip, almost three quarters of connected travellers (72%) use their smartphones to look for restaurants while on vacation and a third of connected travellers (34%) want their accommodation to offer mobile check-in.

In the TripBarometer Connected Traveller report by TripAdvisor released in 2015, mobile apps were reported to be gaining more popularity as a booking channel; according to the report, the amount of people using mobile apps to book their accommodation has doubled year over year. In 2014, 4% of TripBarometer respondents had booked their accommodation using a mobile app channel – that proportion had risen to 8% in 2015. Those who book via mobile app channels are habitual users, with one in four (24%) saying they usually book this way. One in five Connected Travellers say they booked via a mobile app because it was easier or faster to access and 29% felt they got a better price.

Looking strictly at the device used to make a booking, Connected Travellers are twice as likely as global travellers to make travel related bookings via a mobile device. Laptops and PCs are still the most commonly used devices for hotel bookings, with 50% of Connected Travellers using a laptop and 32% using a PC to book the accommodation for their most recent trip. But what’s interesting is that 12% of Connected Travellers booked their accommodation via a smartphone, compared to 6% of global travellers.

The trend toward mobile platforms for bookings is even more apparent when it comes to travel activities, where the smartphone becomes the second most popular booking device after laptops – 45% of Connected Travellers say they use their smartphone to book activities for their trip, while 55% said they use a laptop. This is where Connected Travellers really start to differentiate themselves, as only 28% of global travellers used their smartphone to book things to do before a trip.
Connected Travellers were more likely to want their smartphones with them on vacation to organize their trip more efficiently (44%) and book accommodation on the go (37%). They are also more likely than the average traveler to use their smartphone for travel research while in their destination: 72% of Connected Travellers use their mobile to look for restaurants, 67% use it to find things to do and 64% use it to read reviews.

Likewise, online travel company MakeMyTrip, in a bid to tap into top technology talent in Bangalore, had launched a technology centre with an increased focus on using technology as an enabler to make travel buying experience easier. The rapid smartphone adoption and the app eco-system had necessitated them to offer personalized solutions and the company would be using the Bangalore facility in app development and data analytics. It had recorded over 23 million downloads of our app with last 8 million downloads coming in 2016 itself.

As mobile devices continue to evolve, the Hotels.com™ Mobile Travel Tracker* uncovers the true impact that the number 1 travel accessory, the mobile phone, is having on our booking and travel behaviours. It reveals we’re now booking hotelsin secret, becoming more spontaneous and placing less emphasis on price.

Bleisure travel has emerged as the most prominent trend amongst Indian travellers. 71% of people admitted to booking hotel rooms for a business trip coupled with a short holiday as their travel purpose. In fact, near one-fifth of Indians (18%) admitted leisure as their primary purpose for travel followed by 10% acknowledging business as their primary purpose for travel. Some of the other prominent revelations from the survey include 81% Indians choose a laptop or computer as their means for booking a hotel room while 73% Indians book hotel rooms on mobile. Through the traditional route of a travel agency received 45% respondents.

According to the Hotels.com Mobile Travel Tracker, a global study of 9,200 travellers across 31 countries in 2015, today’s modern traveller makes four trips a year and on average stays in a hotel 13 nights of the year. Although for some, the hotel becomes their home for a month, as almost 1 in 10 spend more than 31 days a year in a hotel room. Mobiles and smartphones have emerged as leading channels for hotel booking primarily since consumers are on the lookout for easy mediums that can provide sufficient choices. In fact a little more than half the people surveyed in India admitted that they book more trips than ever thanks to mobile, so as smartphones continue to get smarter, it’s no surprise that 73% of people have booked a hotel stay on a mobile device. Business trips (58 %), short break elsewhere within India (41%) and booking a hotel room nearby while attending a particular event (37%) are some of the main reasons for making a booking on the mobile.

According to Hotels.com Mobile Travel Tracker, having the right payment method and offering genuine guest reviews are important factors when booking a hotel on mobile. Nearly every individual today is inquisitive to know minute details while planning a holiday. This comes handy with smartphones as one can download an app and scan through all the details in a few clicks while on the go. At Hotels.com we offer 15 different payment methods including the newly launched Apple Pay. Hotels.com Mobile Travel Tracker lists top 5 influencing factors for people while choosing a hotel room. 75% Indians get influenced by the payment method that suits them, 67% Indians get influenced by genuine guest reviews, 64% Indians are influenced if they feel that the price they pay for booking a hotel room is of best value, 54% Indians are influenced basis relevant and detailed information on hotel and lastly 51% Indians get influenced if everything is accessible in just a couple of clicks. More than 80% of people say their smartphone makes them more spontaneous when travelling and the fact that 68% of people have made a same day hotel booking and near 30% of holidaymakers book less than a week before travel, seems to be evidence our travel booking behaviour is becoming more last minute. A super spontaneous 36% of Indian travellers have really left booking a hotel to the last minute and actually booked in the airport lounge before departure. Further Hotels.com Mobile Travel Tracker reveals that in the past 12 months 34% of Indians booked 1 or 2 hotel stays via mobile devices. 31% Indians have booked 3 to 4 hotel stays while 13% booked 5 to 6 stays in the past 12 months through mobile devices.

<strong>Mobile Mappy</strong>
It seems that what we get up to on our mobile whilst travelling is all about searching. That includes searching and booking a hotel room (73%), how to get from A to B and using maps to get around (61%), searching online to compare deals (60%). Other popular mediums for mobile usage includes booking a flight (59%) and booking a taxi (58%). The top 5 usages of mobile whilst travelling amongst Indians are to book a Hotel (73%); maps to get around (61%); comparing prices and deals (60%); to book a flight (59%) and to book a Taxi (58%)

<strong>Global Trends</strong>
The travel industry is seeing a new convergence between young Asian and Western tourists’ travel expectations and consumption patterns. Digital and mobile are creating a shared generational experience, most notably in Generation Z, people born in the late 90s in both The East and The West.
These days young Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Indian travellers share as much in common with their Western counterparts as they do with their parents.
“The internet’s ability to deliver engaging content is impacting East and West in similar ways – as are some of the broad macro-trends,” says Carolyn Childs, tourism strategist, co-founder of MyTravelResearch.com, and author of a new white paper in the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Connected Visitor Economy series called The Changing of the (Generational) Guard.

The digital natives of Generation Z are ‘technoholics,’ entirely dependent on IT, with limited grasp of alternatives, says the report. They are career multi-taskers often in part time ‘portfolio’ jobs. They aspire to security and stability. They crowd source solutions to tasks. They want to make a difference. They are relatively dependent on their parents – and quite happy to be so. They have had a smartphone in their hands since they can remember.

“They tend to see the internet as an extension of their self,” she said. “Their expectation is that all interactions both online and offline will be smooth, quick and easy. Their attention span is shaped by Snapchat. Whereas Generation Y (Millennials; born 1981-1995) seek constant feedback, Generation Z seeks constant dialogue – think instant messaging, WeChat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Kik,” she stated.
Even more than the Millennials, Generation Z feels a sense of responsibility for the planet and a strong sense of ethics. “They expect to understand what you stand for and how you do things,” noted Carolyn. “Growing up for many means living with their parents. They share ideas for holidays with their parents as well as their friends.”

There are strong lifestyle generational changes across all demographics and identifiable life stages. This creates opportunities and challenges for tourism businesses, especially those that target specific generations. Do they change with their audience or do they focus on the next generation?
For example, Baby Boomers [born 1945-60] in the West is a large, affluent and time-rich demographic. They expect the world to change around them and will embrace it as it does. What they won’t put up with is stereotyping or out of date images. They want to see themselves as they feel, not as we see them. Marketers who fail to appreciate this will be punished.

Another key change to understand is the blurring of the boundaries between generations. “There is a growing recognition that demographics are not destiny. Many destinations now look at their target audiences through psychographic or needs-based profiling, rather than demographics.
“There are major demographic challenges facing destination marketing organisations. They need to be fully informed on the demographic nuances and rapid lifestyle changes underway across the generations,” she said.

<strong>Mobile travel in India</strong>
With growing smart phone penetration and social media revolution, Indian travellers are increasingly logging onto the internet to plan their vacations. According to the IAMAI-IMRB (Internet and Mobile Association of India-Indian Market Research Bureau), online travel accounts for 61% of Indian ecommerce and the online travel industry is expected grow at around 40% to reach Rs 122,815 crore by end of 2016.

The trend for both searching and booking travel on mobile has accelerated dramatically in recent years, with the Skyscanner apps having been downloaded over 40 million times worldwide. 45% of all Skyscanner searches in India are now made using a mobile device*, while the last year alone has seen a 24% increase in people booking via smartphones in India. In an effort to make searching and booking travel even easier, the free Skyscanner app (compatible with both iOS and Android devices) will continue to deliver personalised, relevant and inspirational travel information, in addition to exciting brand new features designed to save travellers time and money.

It is needless to say that mobile usage in travel will go on to develop rapidly as it will only gain more dependence for Indians searching primary information on travel such as attractions, restaurants and maps and sooner or later, storing and accessing travel documents such as boarding passes, e-tickets and hotel reservation vouchers will become the norm, as we move towards a paperless, digital age.

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