Hotels.com, the Expedia-owned hotel-booking site known for its “Captain Obvious” character in commercials, found that U.S. millennials are very likely to engage with social media while they travel. “Travel bragging” is common among younger adults, with 66% of 18- to 29-year-olds saying they would rather upload a selfie than a picture with their loved ones (62%) while vacationing, the Hotels.com study found.
About one-third (30%) of millennials said they spend more than four hours a day on their mobile devices while traveling. In addition, 60% of the group admitted to uploading pictures, checking in at cool locations (39%) and tracking the amount of interaction on their posts (32%) for bragging purposes while on vacation.
Sharing pictures of food is popular among 44% of millennials, who tend to be very attached to their mobile devices. Fourteen percent said they would rather travel with a smartphone than with a romantic partner. Travelers said they get more anxious when their phone runs out of battery (15%) than if they argue with their partner on a trip (8%). Hotels.com commissioned One Poll to conduct the Mobile Travel Tracker research in November 2017 by surveying 9,000 respondents in 30 countries.
For marketers, the findings are another sign of the importance of mobile to the entire travel experience. While travel brands have been actively ramping up mobile offerings around booking, research and in-venue services — offerings that are only going to become more important given mobile's wide-ranging role for younger travelers — the Hotels.com research suggests there are also potential engagement opportunities around user-generated content and social media marketing.
While other surveys have shown that travelers depend on their smartphones to help with navigating airports and new cities, hailing a taxi, researching places to visit and making last-minute changes to an itinerary, the new Hotels.com survey focuses on social-media dynamics of traveling with a mobile device. Tech-savvy millennials are very likely to remain tethered to social media to show off to friends how much fun they’re having on vacation.
Daniel Craig, vice president of mobile at Hotels.com, said a third of travelers refuse to book a hotel that doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi, another sign of the demand to be connected at all times. Twenty-eight percent of people even said they wouldn’t enjoy a holiday without a smartphone, and 14% said they would pose anywhere to take a selfie.
U.S. mobile travel sales were predicted to rise 16.7% to $75.9 billion this year from 2016, researcher eMarketer said in June. That growth was forecast to negatively affect desktop and laptop travel sales with a 1.6% drop to $113.8 billion. By 2021, mobile’s share of digital travel sales will grow to nearly 50% from about 40% this year.