Racheal Lee
Oct 24, 2013

Attention travel brands: Asian vacationers can't put down their phones

ASIA-PACIFIC - Nearly nine out of 10 travellers in Asia-Pacific rely on mobile technology to stay in touch and avoid FOMO (fear of missing out) even while on vacation, according to research from TripAdvisor.

Attention travel brands: Asian vacationers can't put down their phones

Asian consumers are more wedded to their mobiles than their global counterparts in most phases of life, and vacations are no exception, TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer Mobile and Social survey indicates.

For example, Asian travellers are more likely to use social media while on the road (69 per cent compared with 61 per cent globally). Travellers from Indonesia are the most likely to use mobile devices when they are on holiday (98 per cent), followed by Indian travellers (96 per cent). By contrast, Canadians are the least likely, at 59 per cent.

TripAdvisor surveyed nearly 30,000 participants globally, including more than 4,600 in Asia (respondents came from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea and Thailand). 

Calling and texting are the key reasons for smartphone use when travelling, with a significant portion of respondents using mobile technology to access social media and to look for recommendations on the go. They still prefer smartphones over tablets.

Marc Charron, president of TripAdvisor for business, noted that this reliance on mobile devices is consistent with user trends at TripAdvisor. The service sees an average of 79 million unique visitors on mobile devices per month, a number that has increased 216 per cent in the last year.

Globally, 94 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 use mobile devices while travelling. Women are slightly more attached to their mobile devices (88 per cent) than men (85 per cent).

The study also revealed that hospitality businesses are not meeting the needs of these connected travellers. A third of hoteliers globally (31 per cent) and in Asia (32 per cent) don’t do anything to reach mobile users.

In 2013, only 36 per cent of hoteliers globally prioritised mobile marketing, with 53 per cent of them planning to expand their mobile offerings in 2014. Asian hoteliers are the most likely in the world to increase their mobile offerings in the coming year (66 per cent), including adding mobile booking functionality (30 per cent), mobile-friendly website (26 per cent) and sending out mobile-specific special offers (15 per cent).

Julio Bruno, global vice president of sales, TripAdvisor for business, said businesses should engage with potential and current guests on mobile and social media and interact with them in real time through special offers and apps that are popular with travellers.  “Ultimately, mobile is the direct link to travellers on the go,” he added.

In separate research, PhoCusWright reported that Asia Pacific has become the world’s largest travel market, with gross bookings set to reach US$351.9 billion this year, up from $326.2 billion last year.

The PhocusWright study also revealed projected growth figures for countries within the Asia-Pacific region over the next three years, showing China and Japan as leaders.

Chetan Kapoor, research analyst, Asia Pacific at PhoCusWright, said the company expects the Asia-Pacific travel market to maintain its growth through 2015 to reach $407.3 billion, with China accounting for a third of that.

“The Indonesian market is also poised for rapid development in the next three years and double-digit growth is forecast for several Asia-Pacific markets through 2015,” he added.

PhoCusWright expects the online travel market to grow to $126.6 billion in 2015, with China again as one of the fastest-growing markets. Online gross bookings in the country (excluding call centre bookings) are likely to more than double, jumping from $14 billion in 2012 to $30.3 billion by 2015, comprising nearly a fourth of the region’s online market.

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