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Passport, credit card, phone – Study reveals mobile devices are critical kit for British travellers

69% of Britons can’t go on holiday without using their mobile; Over a third use their smartphones more when they travel than at home. British travellers more likely to check the weather than social media and least likely to photograph their food.

LONDON, UK – The Expedia and Egencia Mobile Index has highlighted the growing importance British travellers place on their mobile devices, coupled with a strong anxiety of losing them while away. The ‘2014 Expedia and Egencia Mobile Index’, a global study of mobile-device-related behaviour among travellers, shows that 89% of Britons take one or more mobile devices on holiday, with 69% using their mobile for the duration of their trip.

Contrary to the perception of mobile devices chaining Brits to their workplace even when on holiday, 90% of the UK feel that new technology and mobile apps enhance their travel experience; from the initial holiday research, right through to boarding a flight back home, we see our mobiles as a “travel concierge”.

Bed and Bathroom Bookers
Over 71% of us regard our smartphones as vital to daily life and only the Danes and Indians are more attached to their tablets than the Britons (57% of Britons regard them as vital vs. a global average of 48%). British business travellers are highly likely to take a smartphone on their travels (82%), compared to only a relatively modest proportion (59%) who take a laptop on business trips, lower than the global average. Increasingly tablets are catching up with 36% of business travellers travelling with one. Over 26% of Britons polled research their holiday destinations on their smartphones and mobile is so ingrained in our daily routine that over 42% of us plan holidays in bed and for 12% of us the bathroom’s our holiday planning spot.

Mobile as the new personal travel assistant
Once abroad, mobiles are increasingly used to manage holiday time, 1 in 4 (26%) feel mobile helps them to be more flexible with their travel plans, with 37% using mobile to get tips on the way. Over 27% of Brits have used smartphones to manage their itinerary for business with 38% regarding automatic itinerary updates as an essential function for a travel app.

Even for leisure travel we increasingly turn to our smartphones for itinerary management, with over 17% doing so. Mobiles are the personal assistant we look to for receiving flight alerts for 21% of us, checking in for a flight for 19%. One in ten of us have booked ground transportation or checked into hotel room via a mobile device. Similarly, almost half of the UK is using maps and navigation functions to find their way around during their holiday.

1 in 4 of us admits that the loss of their mobile would make them feel insecure or isolated, but we are still some way off the Spanish dependence on mobile. The Spanish would be more anxious about the loss of their mobile than their travel companion.

Greatest causes of anxiety:

  • Loss of Travel Companion Loss of Mobile Device
  • Global average 39% 21%
  • Spain 5% 21%
  • UK 34% 16%

“More people each day use their smartphones and tablets to help navigate their business trips,” says Graham Kingsmill, Managing Director of Egencia UK. “We believe that mobile devices can do more for business travellers and we wanted to understand how. Checking in for a flight or refuelling the rental car before returning it can all be made easier with the right app. We have seen that many business travellers will use apps to book hotels at the last minute if these apps feature a great modern experience and this makes their business travel more productive and cost-efficient.”

Over-spending on roaming. Less than half of Brits are aware of new roaming legislation
Despite our reliance on mobile devices abroad, it seems that UK residents are not as savvy as our global counterparts when it comes to data roaming charges. Even though the European Union has capped roaming charges, less than half of UK travellers were aware of this new legislation (44%), compared to 63% of Germans knowing about it. So it seems this will come as welcome news for the 61% of Brits who don’t purchase an international data/roaming plan before going away, allowing them to continue staying connected at all times. 42% of Britons admit to spending more than twenty pounds on roaming during a one-week holiday within Europe. On average we spend 33% more than we consider reasonable.

International Mobile Etiquette
Alongside the recognised importance of mobile devices when travelling, UK residents fully appreciate the need for device etiquette, stating noise awareness, courtesy and privacy as the most important factors. Poor mobile etiquette habits such as using a speakerphone in public places and taking photographs of strangers were shown to be the most irritating to British travellers, with 55% and 41% citing these habits as the most offensive mobile-related actions. British travellers should be forewarned however, that over a quarter French and Spanish travellers admit to carrying out both of these actions whilst on holiday. Globally, it seems that Brazilians and Thais are the worst offenders when it comes to mobile etiquette, with 43% of Thais polled admitted to taking photos or videos of strangers and over a fifth of Brazilians admitting to making calls on speakerphone in public when travelling. The residents of South Korea, Hong and Thailand are leading the current vogue for photographing food (over 40% doing so) and Brits are the least likely to do so (10%) globally, with 1 in 5 of us finding this offensive behaviour.

Sun over social
Even abroad though, it seems the British obsession with the weather is still prevalent, with the data showing checking the weather is more important than using social media, for both UK leisure and business travellers. 39% regularly make sure the sun will be shining versus only 33% updating their social profiles, while away.

“We are entering a new era where people move fluidly across desktop, phone, tablet, even wearables as they plan, book and then ultimately take their trip,” said Andy Washington, Managing Director of “Travellers are not only researching and booking trips on mobile, but they’re also complimenting their meals, and capturing every trip detail. This is the new normal when it comes to travel. We need to be able to develop relevant products to meet these needs and to offer a consistently high level of service as customers move from one device to another.”

Expedia Egencia Mobile Infographic 2014 UK