Research Report: Smartphone Use by Tourism & Travel Consumers, 2011

Smartphone Use by Tourism & Travel ConsumersLesley Judge, Smart Tourism and Dr. Shuna Marr, Edinburgh Napier University, are delighted to have shared their academic research on “Smartphone Use by Tourism & Travel Consumers” with Targeting Innovation.

Many thanks to TI for publishing the research results and thank you to everyone who took part in the research project, from focus groups to the online networks across the globe, from the TRINET academic network to the Tweeters and LinkedIn groups who helped spread the word and encourage people to complete the online survey.

Although the research was based on a small sample, this investigation aimed to add to the scant body of knowledge about smartphone use in tourism by examining how early adopters of smartphones use their phones as consumers. For the purposes of the survey, ‘Smartphones’ were defined as “mobile phones with advanced computing and connectivity, for example, iPhones, Blackberries and those using the Android operating system.” Travel was defined as “being abroad or in your home country, an away-day or a fortnight’s holiday, for business or leisure.”

The study gathered data using a mix of qualitative and quantitative research. The opening qualitative data was gathered using three innovative, online, in-depth, focus groups of heavy smartphone users. Based on the focus group findings, a larger survey was undertaken using an online questionnaire that drew 152 responses from across 5 continents.

With reliable sources suggesting that there are 4bn mobile phones in use around the world, of which over 1bn are smartphones, the key finding of this study is that there are significant differences in the way smartphone users use their phone when travelling in their home country and when abroad.

Judge and Marr found that three-quarters of those surveyed had used their smartphone when travelling abroad in the previous 12 months. When they were travelling in their own country, there was a tendency to use a broad range of functions on a frequent basis.  However, roaming charges and data download charges prompted two thirds of users to switch off some or most of their data services and limit their phone to call or text only when travelling abroad.

This has obvious implications for the development and scope of smartphone tourism apps. The survey delivers a detailed picture of how, where and when smartphone users take advantage of the various applications available to them while travelling and an indication of which applications are most used and why.

For further information on the research contact Dr. Shuna Marr or Lesley Judge.

Access the Research Report, “Smartphone Use by Tourism & Travel Consumers” here.

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