NORWALK, CONN. - Smartphone owners have an outlook on this year's holiday travel that's as rosy as Santa's suit, according to a new consumer survey from priceline.com. Priceline.com's 2013 Holiday Travel Survey reveals that mobile-savvy travelers are more optimistic about their ability to handle the seemingly inevitable headwinds of holiday travel.
When asked to qualify their outlook on the 2013 holiday travel season, approximately 65% of smartphone users say they see "clear sailing ahead," which is 5% higher than people who don't own a smartphone. Additionally, those who don't own a smartphone are 5% more likely than their mobile-friendly counterparts to predict "nothing but chaos" for their upcoming holiday travel. Given that smartphone penetration in the U.S. is now 56%, according to Pew research, that leaves about 138 million people with a potential case of the holiday travel blues.
According to priceline.com's study, apps play a role in holiday travel optimism and it looks like the more apps the merrier in 2013. Those with six or more travel-related apps on their phones - Apperts (app experts) - are 13% more likely to be optimistic about their holiday travel compared to Appices (app novices), or those with only 1-5 travel apps. Oh, and, iPhone owners who have made the leap to iOS7 are even more optimistic. Those who have upgraded are twice as likely as iPhone owners who have not upgraded to forecast on-time flights this holiday season.
The survey reveals that easy access to travel information and seamless booking options are big reasons for mobile phone owners' optimism. In fact, Apperts are less likely than Appices to fret about paying higher prices for their airline tickets and hotel rooms or getting caught by airline baggage fees.
So where do all these Apperts happily research their holiday travel? Priceline.com's data shows that "mobile" may, in fact, not be so mobile since much of this consumer activity is happening in the home, although in different places for men and women. According to the study, men are almost twice as likely as women to research holiday travel in the bathroom. Women, on the other hand, are more likely than men to research holiday travel in the bedroom. Women are also slightly more likely to search for holiday travel during a meeting, while men are slightly more likely to search for holiday travel while on a bad date. Interestingly, roughly 20% of both men and women say they've waited until they're on their way to the airport to finish researching their travel.
Priceline.com's study illustrates that the plethora of travel-related apps available to consumers means that consumers are using their phones for more than just researching travel. In fact, for those respondents who indicated that they use their smartphones for other travel-related purposes, over 50% will use their phones to check the weather at their destinations this holiday season. Approximately 31% will scope out local restaurants, while 26% will check flights, and 14% will actually book a hotel, flight or rental car.
So the moral of this holiday travel season story is "get mobile" to stay a happy traveler. Beyond apps, priceline.com looked at the most coveted mobile travel accessories for this holiday season and found that more than 30% of tech-savvy mobile travelers say they want portable Wi-Fi this gifting season. Twenty-six percent are asking for wireless headphones, while 17% seek wireless speakers, and 12% want wireless activity bands and add-on camera lenses.