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Expedia/Egencia Mobile Index Study: Smartphone named “most indispensable” travel companion

Expedia/Egencia Mobile Index examines how mobile devices impact travel and work-life balance

Expedia.com®, one of the world’s largest full service online travel sites, and Egencia®, the business travel brand of the Expedia group, today released the results of the Expedia®/Egencia Mobile Index, a global study of mobile-device-related behavior and preferences among travelers conducted online across North America, Europe, South America and Asia Pacific. The study solicited input from 9,642 travelers across 19 countries. It was commissioned by Expedia and conducted by Northstar.

One top finding is the perceived importance of the smartphone as a travel companion. Travelers now consider it to be the single most indispensable item they carry with them when they travel, ahead of their toothbrush, deodorant and driver’s license.  

The relevance of mobile devices is tied to how the device improves the quality of travel itself. Business travelers use mobile devices to remain tightly connected to their home office. Mobile devices are frequently used by leisure travellers for navigation, for photo-taking and for staying connected to loved ones through social media. The three countries that place the highest premium on mobile devices as a travel companion are China (where 96% of respondents consider their smartphone an important travel companion), Thailand (88%) and Taiwan (86%).  

"We have found that travelers are using mobile devices at every stage of the travel process, from researching and booking trips to capturing and sharing the travel experience," said Aman Bhutani, president for Brand Expedia Group. “And just because a traveler can use their device to read work email and stay connected to the office, they also believe it improves the quality of their vacations. Consumers tell us what they do and don’t like in their mobile offerings and habits, and we’ve been listening and steadily adapting to provide what the mobile-savvy travelers demand.”  

"Mobile devices may be a requirement for business trips, however, business travel and connectivity is changing. Various devices allow for a seamless experience with apps that enable users to be more productive and efficient, which travelers are utilizing in order to prioritize work-life balance and disconnect when possible." said Rob Greyber, president of Egencia.  

Travellers’ Reliance on Mobile Makes Many Feel They Never Truly “Unplug” Global travelers admit to being addicted to their mobile devices, even while on vacation. Eighty-four percent of travelers worldwide want to be able to access information from anywhere while they travel, with more than half of respondents saying they would be “lost” without a mobile device on vacation. In fact, a full 60% of travelers say they agree they never truly ‘’unplug’’ on leisure trips. In fact, 35% claim to use their mobile device more on vacation than they do at home.  

The Expedia/Egencia Mobile Index revealed that travelers are well attuned to mobile device etiquette, and find mobile faux pas to be highly offensive. Courteousness and noise consciousness continue to be particularly prized, as is privacy. “Playing music, games or videos without headphones” is considered to be the most offensive mobile behavior, cited by 58% of travelers, an increase of more than 10% from 2014. "Making/taking calls while on speakerphone" infuriates 57% of people (up from 53% in 2014), while "taking photos/videos of strangers" is offensive to 48% of people (up from 42% in 2014).  

The list of perceived mobile etiquette violations, in order of offensiveness, includes: • Playing music, games or videos without headphones - 58% • Making/taking calls while on speakerphone - 57% • Taking photos/videos of strangers - 48% • Making / taking voice calls while dining at a restaurant / café - 39% • Enabling notifications on the loud setting - 39% • Texting or emailing while attending a seated performance - 35% • Making/taking video call - 25% • Photographing food during meal - 22% • Entertaining children with games, apps or videos - 18% • Attaching a fitness tracker visibly to an undergarment - 16%    • Posting more than 3 updates per day on social media - 14% • Using location-based dating apps - 13% • Taking photos using a tablet device - 13%  

How does the UK fare?
For a nation which historically placed great emphasis on decorum and politeness, the UK is one of the countries least bothered by poor mobile etiquette in public areas. When asked about perceived offensive behaviour, 16% of Brits answered that ‘none of the above’ would affect them; the only country that scored higher (18%) was Australia. One habit which annoys the rest of the world but fails to rattle Brits is taking photos and videos of strangers. With only a third of British travellers finding this inappropriate, they rank the most tolerant of this activity. Brits are also the second most tolerant of other people’s phone notifications being on a loud setting with just 29% claiming it bothered them. British people also believe its fine for people to entertain their children with mobile devices in public areas with only 13% citing this as an annoyance, half the amount of the Taiwanese who find this particular trait the most offensive.  

Travelers Won’t Fly Without a Mobile Device
60% of travelers globally say they would be unwilling to go on vacation without a mobile device. 63% sleep with the device beside their bed while on vacation. 28% carry a rechargeable pack or spare battery. The heavy reliance on mobile devices is not true in every country, however; travelers from Germany, Norway and Sweden tend to be less reliant on their devices compared to other countries.  

Even When Traveling for Pleasure Travelers Can’t Leave the Office Behind
More than one half of travelers who are employed check in on work at least once a day while on vacation. Most (60%) travelers who check in with work during a vacation say their travel partner or spouse does not mind; however, among Indians, who are the most likely to check in with work, one-fifth admit that their spouse or travel partner does get annoyed. Almost one-quarter (23%) have purchased inflight Wi-Fi on a leisure trip in order to connect to work, highest among those in Hong Kong (53%), China (42%) and Taiwan (40%).  

The 2015 Expedia/Egencia Mobile Index was commissioned by Expedia and conducted online by Northstar, a globally integrated strategic insights consulting firm. This survey was conducted online across North America, Europe, South America and Asia Pacific. The study was conducted among 9,642 adults who own at least one mobile device across 19 countries.

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