The Device That Goes Everywhere Helps Take You Anywhere

Compete will be at CTIA Wireless 2010 and is emceeing the Mobile Marketing & Advertising special session for agencies and brands to learn more about the burgeoning mobile channel on March 22nd. If you would like to set up a meeting with Compete during the show, please email Danielle Nohe at dnohe@compete.com.

I’m in the middle of planning my next vacation — in May I will be venturing on a road trip down the coast of California.  And I know that once I get going, no matter how much research and planning I do beforehand, it will be my smartphone that provides me with the most information when I am in need of making a game-time decision.

For me, it’s not about using my phone to do the research or the planning, but rather making the decisions when I’m in the moment: whether that is finding something delicious to eat, pulling up some much needed directions, or soliciting "˜what should I do’ feedback from friends via text and Facebook.

In our recent Smartphone Intelligence survey, we sought to find out how, exactly, smartphone owners were using their devices as it pertains to leisure travel.  So we started this deeper dive at the beginning of the cycle — the research and bookings.  We asked smartphone owners what percent of their online leisure travel research and bookings they conduct on their smartphone (assuming the rest was done on a home or work computer).

  • 38% of smartphone owners conduct at least some of their leisure travel research on their mobile device and,
  • 27% of smartphone owners conduct at least some of their leisure travel bookings using their smartphone

Next, we asked shoppers how they will use their phone while on their trip.

At the top of the list we see that one-third of all smartphone owners are likely to find out information about their destination while they are on the road, while close to 3 in 10 are likely to check the status of their reservation,  and one- quarter will research lodging options.

Of course when asking smartphone owners about how they use their phone, it’s important to understand the role of applications.  When asking smartphone owners what apps they currently have downloaded on their device, only 20% of those that have downloaded apps recall having downloaded a travel app.

So, there exists a gap — we have a large segment of consumers using their phones to help them with their travel, but not a lot of downloaded applications related to travel.

So what are consumers looking for to help them with their travel?

  • Over half of smartphone owners would be interested in an application that notifies them of unplanned schedule changes
  • Close to a half want updates for rate changes
  • Over 4 in 10 are interested in an app that consolidates their reservations into one itinerary and an app that helps manage rewards programs across different vendors

So, it seems clear the travel industry is a thriving area for mobile use, but there’s still a lot of opportunity to market travel assisting apps and websites to consumers looking to use their phone to assist them in leisure travel.  Many travel assisting tools do already exist, but awareness of them is not what it could be.  I am, however, aware of these tools"¦and I know so long as I have my car phone charger ready to go, my smartphone will be as important as the gas in the tank of the car in making my trip successful.