Survey: Nearly two-thirds of travelers rely on mobile apps during trips

U.S. travelers rely on their smartphones for every part of their journey, from using social media posts from friends and family to research leisure trips to sharing post-trip feedback. In Travelport’s "2018 Digital Traveler Survey" of 16,000 travelers from 25 countries, trends among respondents from the U.S. indicate that mobile devices are as vital for leisure travel as for other aspects of everyday life. 

Results from the survey also indicate an increasing desire among U.S. travelers for new technologies, such as voice search, e-payment and digital room keys, to simplify and enhance their leisure trips. Mobile remains crucial, but travelers want a consolidated experience on leisure trips, according to the survey:

  • Almost half of those surveyed have booked and paid for an entire or part of a trip through their smartphone. China is the global leader, with close to 100 percent of survey participants booking and paying for travel through their mobile phone.
  • Nine out of 10 now have apps to make their life easier when at their destination with maps, airlines, weather and social media topping the list of favorites.
  • On average, travelers use 10 to 12 apps throughout the searching, booking and traveling parts of their trip.
  • The top three most important features identified by leisure travelers in their travel apps are the ability to search and book flights (68 percent), real-time flight alerts throughout their journey (64 percent) and being able to see an entire trip itinerary in one place (67 percent)  
  • Only around a fifth of travelers are currently using itinerary-management tools.

On average, U.S. leisure travelers use seven to eight apps throughout their searching, booking and in-destination travel experience, with maps (52 percent), weather (51 percent) and branded airlines (50 percent) topping their list of most widely used apps. 

New technologies are continuing to grow in prominence for U.S. leisure travelers, the survey showed:

  • More than half of U.S. leisure travelers would prefer to use an app for adding extras to their bookings on-the-go (54 percent); and the ability to pay using Apple/Android pay (touch ID) within their travel apps is an important feature for 42 percent of U.S. travelers.
  • 44 percent surveyed have used voice to search for some part of their trip, up 3 percent from the previous year; and, 20 percent of travelers from the U.S. consider voice search to be a great influencer while traveling.
  • 39 percent want to use a digital room key to unlock their hotel room door from their smartphone; and 36 percent said they prefer the option to check in to their hotel via an app, rather than at a reception desk.

U.S. leisure travelers want technology to continue to simplify and enhance their travel experience. Seventy percent of U.S. leisure travelers indicated they would happily use biometric scanning to bypass or minimize time spent waiting in security lines.

Almost half of travelers surveyed from the U.S. also desire the ability to live chat with a travel representative from their favorite travel app (49 percent). 

“Travelers from the United States are highly dependent on their smartphones to search, book and along the entire journey while traveling on holiday and are rapidly embracing future travel technologies like touch IT for payments and voice search,” Simon Ferguson, Travelport Americas president and managing director, said in a statement. “Our research highlights a clear opportunity to engage U.S. travelers with enhanced features on mobile apps to reduce effort and provide a convenient, end-to-end travel experience.”

While U.S. travelers obviously love their phones (some 72 percent of Americans own a smartphone), The James New York NoMad hotel is willing to offer guests 10 percent off their room rate for every night that they can go without the technology.

The Digital Detox package prompts guests to lock up their cell phones and other electronic devices at the front desk upon arrival to the hotel. They’re assigned a room that’s stripped of technology—no TV, laptop or alarm clock—to make sure guests can take full advantage of wellness options like guided meditation or yoga without any distractions.