Mobiles: Like Multifunctional Travelling Companions

Mobile devices act as a concierge, guide and companion for travellers, who rely on smartphones and other mobile devices at every stage, says a report by online travel business Expedia.

The 2014 Expedia/Egencia Mobile Index studied how mobile devices impact travel by looking at mobile device-related behaviour and preferences among travellers in North America, South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

A total of 8,856 employed adults across 25 countries were questioned for the study, which was conducted by research and consulting firm Northstar.

The report found that travellers have a deep dependence on mobile devices - including smartphones, tablets, e-readers, laptops and smartwatches. While holidaying, 94% of people take at least one mobile device with them, and 97% take at least one device on business trips.

"We are entering a new era where people are moving fluidly across desktop, phone, tablet, even wearables as they dream, plan, book and then ultimately take their trip," said Dara Khosrowshahi, president and CEO of Expedia, Inc. and president of Expedia Worldwide.

"Travellers are not only researching and booking trips on mobile, but they're also complimenting their meals, complaining to providers and capturing every trip detail. This is the new normal when it comes to travel," she added.

Meanwhile it's an established fact that mobile devices are a requirement for business travellers, but mobile usage trends are continuing to increase nonetheless. Mobile devices and enabling-apps make corporate travel smoother and more productive, commented Rob Greyber, Egencia president.

Over three-quarters (76%) of respondents said that their smartphones are "very important/critical" to their daily lives; another 70% said the same about their laptop, while just under half (48%) said so about their tablet device.

In terms of regional differences, Indians were the most dependent on smartphones, with 95% categorising their device as "very important/critical." Travellers in Norway were the least smartphone-dependent - only 57% of them considered their smartphone to be very important or critical.

On the whole, more than one-third (35%) of the world's travellers use their smartphones more when they travel than they do at home, the study found.

It's unsurprising then that travellers' purchasing decisions are influenced by the availability of Wi-Fi services - more than half of respondents (56%) confirmed that its availability and pricing had a bearing on their choice of flight and hotel.

"Complimentary Wi-Fi" ranked first for mobile-related hotel amenities among leisure travellers, beating high-speed internet access, wired in-room connectivity and a business centre with computers and printers.

For business travellers, complimentary Wi-Fi is even more important - 86% of them rated it as very or somewhat important when booking a hotel for business travel.

Laptops and desktop computers are generally the most common way to book travel, but 78% of business travellers have used their smartphone for travel planning and 71% have used tablets. The devices are most commonly used for managing itineraries (37% with smartphones and 32% with tablets), and researching destinations (35% and 32%). Other popular activities include shopping for hotels, receiving flight alerts and checking in for flights.

In total, 28% of employed adults worldwide who own a mobile device have used a smartphone or tablet to book a hotel, says Expedia.