Recently Phocuswright released the results of an October 2014 study called, Traveler Technology Survey 2014. The survey addresses technology currently in use by travelers and its impact on travel companies. U.S. travelers have adopted mobile technology and are increasingly incorporating their devices in planning and conducting their travel. U.S. travelers passed the tipping point of 50 percent smartphone ownership back in 2011. As 2014 wound down, this has meant that traveler’s use of smartphones has become commonplace. Furthermore, the Phocuswright research uncovered the fact that travelers are more than likely to possess a tablet in addition to their smartphone.
The actual mobile adoption figures from Phocuswright indicate that nearly nine out of every ten U.S. travelers own a smartphone (87 percent), with a further 59 percent owning a tablet. Users of Apple’s iPhone out-number Android smartphone users 53 to 44 percent. In significant numbers, 47 percent of all travelers have become comfortable using multiple platforms while owning a smartphone, tablet, and laptop. Interestingly, the majority of tablet owners make their online purchases on their smartphones rather than on their tablets by a margin of 64 to 42 percent.
Phocuswright figures indicate desktop computer ownership is clearly on the decline over the last two years. This fact points to the primary emphasis on portability among the traveling public. During the course of 2014, several touchstones were reached and surpassed regarding mobile adoption by travelers. Almost six out of every ten travelers, 59 percent, currently own a tablet. This figure has risen steadily between 2012 and 2014. Only 31 percent in 2012 and up to 44 percent in 2013, tablet ownership has become the majority among travelers. With a further 44 percent planning to buy a tablet in the coming year. Even taking these figures into account, smartphone ownership remains ahead of all other devices, beating out laptop usage 87 to 80 percent.
Smartphone ownership among younger travelers has truly become a, nearly universal, fact of life according to Phocuswright’s research. Among 18-24 and 25-34 year olds, the ownership figures are 96 and 97 percent. Additionally, even 35-44 year olds are at 93 percent. But, more significantly for hoteliers, are the statistics for older travelers. Near the end of 2014, 76 percent of 55-64 year old travelers own a smartphone. Mobile adoption for travelers over 65 has reached majority status as well, at 58 percent. Furthermore, older travelers are adopting these mobile technologies at a rapid pace. Over 65 smartphone ownership was up from only 36 percent in 2013.
Operating system adoption numbers from Phocuswright indicate a shift in platforms has taken place. In recent years Google’s Android phone had displaced Apple’s iPhone in popularity. iPhone ownership was only 35 percent in 2013, but with the release of the iPhone 6, Apple turned the tide, attaining majority status during 2014. iPhone ownership stood at 53 percent near the end of 2014. This is expected to continue as 2015 progresses, according to Phocuswright, with 42 percent of travelers planning to purchase from Apple this year. This is compared to 34 percent who plan on investing in the Android platform. Among travelers who own a tablet, Apple dominates, with an over 60 percent ownership rate. Remaining tablet ownership is split among the many other platforms available.
Mobile device usage among U.S. travelers is well on its way to ubiquity, according to Phocuswright’s extensive study. In the next part in this series, we will examine the study’s results regarding how mobile adoption is transforming the face of travel in North America. Resulting in what has been called Mobile Travel.
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