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32pc of millennial business travelers book via smartphone: report

More than a third of consumers under the age of 30 use a smartphone when booking a business trip, according to a new study from Expedia and Egencia.

Expedia’s “The Future of Travel” study looked at how consumers across different age groups use their smartphones and tablets as a part of the overall travel booking experience. The study includes 8,535 responses from adult employees in 24 countries and was conducted online from Aug. 20 – Sept. 12 by Harris Interactive.

“Travelers are turning to smartphones as a tool for managing travel plans,” said Sarah Gavin, director of public relations at Expedia, Bellevue, CA.

“Trends we’re noticing on mobile devices indicate that customers’ ability to book travel from anywhere means they’re taking more last-minute trips,” she said.

Book on mobile
In addition to the smartphone findings, Expedia’s report finds that 20 percent of consumers younger than 30 years old chose to book their travels on a tablet.

Twelve percent of the consumers in the 45 – 65 year-old group booked a business trip on a smartphone, and only nine percent made travel plans via a tablet.

Sixty-seven percent of employees save a type of personal information online to streamline the check-out process, highlighting the fact that many of these business travelers want a quick and easy experience on their mobile devices.

The study also points to a need from marketers to use mobile as part of an enhanced overall travel experience. According to the report, the millennial group was more likely to use mobile devices while traveling than their older counterparts.

Egencia plans to launch an iPhone application called TripNavigator to help aid in the in-trip experience. The app will display an actionable view of an itinerary that is contextually-based as a consumer travels and will include real-time alerts.

The study also shows that millennials are interested in loyalty programs as a way to earn and redeem points while on the go. Given mobile’s strong role as a booking vessel for consumers, marketers should leverage mobile into loyalty programs that specifically target younger business travelers.

Fifty-one percent of millennials cited loyalty programs as important when booking a hotel, and 48 percent said the same about booking a flight.

To compare, roughly 30 percent of travelers aged 46 – 65 years old considered loyalty programs a factor when booking a flight or hotel.

Additionally, 83 percent of all respondents said that they should be able to receive travel reward points, which again is skewed towards younger consumers.

Overall, 75 percent of business travelers use smartphones and tablets for personal and business purposes while traveling.

A screenshot of Expedia’s mobile app

Most important features
Compared to leisure travelers, proximity and price are particularly important to business travelers, and both should be factored into how marketers target consumers via mobile.

Location was the most important feature to 53 percent of business travelers, followed by price at 44 percent when consumers were looking for a hotel.

Travel time and airfare price were the No. 3 and No. 4 most important booking factors.

Hotels also have an opportunity to upsell millennial guests via sophisticated apps that integrate the in-hotel experience, per the study.

In fact, 37 percent of millennials said that they would spend more of their company’s money on room service compared to only 21 percent of consumers aged 46-65 year-olds.

“Our role is to bridge the gap between technology and customer travel expectations; to ensure emotion and humanity in a simple travel experience,” Ms. Gavin said.

“At its core, our strategy is to make travel personal,” she said.

Final Take
Lauren  Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York