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Smartphones top the list of must-have device for traveling: study

Seventy-four percent of consumers traveling say that their smartphone is the No. 1 device they carry with them, likely resulting in last-minute bookings, according to a new study from Four Points by Sheraton.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts-owned Four Points by Sheraton polled 6,000 business guests to ask about their travel habits and which devices they were most likely to use.

“If technology is changing society, reinventing business models and inspiring revolutions, it is of course no surprise that it is rerouting the travel business,” said Brian McGuinness, senior vice president of specialty select brands at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, London.

“From how we search, select and book hotels to what we do on the road, travel today is very different “from the days of the fax and the payphone,” he said.

On the road
The Four Points by Sheraton study surveyed business travelers in six countries – Britain, Germany, China, India, Brazil and the United States.

Depending on the country, consumers are increasingly staying plugged in while on the go. For instance, 27 percent of Brazilian consumers surveyed brought five or more devices with them when traveling while 33 percent of respondents in Germany only brought along one or two devices.

Fifty-five percent of all business travelers carry three to four devices with them.

Tablets were the No. 1 device for 65 percent of users in the study, showing how the devices are being used as replacements to laptops for many travelers. Thirty-four percent of consumers said that laptops were the top device that they traveled with.

Additionally, 68 percent of all consumers in the study said that they used their tablets more than their laptops.

The study also looked at how consumers use their smartphones while flying. Fifty-four percent of smartphone owners turn their device on while a plane is taxing, and 12 percent of users do not shut it off while flying.

Thirty-six percent of users said that they first thing they do in the morning at a hotel is look at their phone. Twelve percent check Facebook, which most likely also has high mobile usage rates.

A whopping 90 percent of consumers in the study said that keeping up with email was their primary reason for traveling with mobile devices. Seventy-five percent of users said they traveled with mobile devices to access the Internet and social media.

Mobile travelers
The study results point to how the travel industry has been shaken up by mobile.

Not only are consumers traveling with multiple devices in hand, they are also booking directly from them, often for last-minute reservations.

As consumers continue to book hotels on their devices, more brands are thinking outside of the box about ways to drive reservations.

For instance, Starwood Hotel & Resorts recently used a foursquare promotion to reward consumers who checked-in to its nine hotel brands (see story).

“Mobile booking is a growing trend in general and for the hospitality industry in particular,” Mr. McGuinness said.

“Starwood’s mobile revenue has increased by more than 300 percent year-over-year, and we expect it to have continued growth,” he said.

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