Appetite grows for mobile travel services, says Sabre survey

Press release: Travellers both young and old are increasingly using mobile devices for flight notification, check in, and seat selection, and are also willing to accept advertising with free travel applications.


These findings and more were revealed in a global mobile survey of travellers, conducted by Sabre Travel Network, the world’s leading provider of high-performance solutions for the travel industry.


The survey of 800 corporate and leisure travellers from Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America covered topics ranging from preferred features to fees travellers might pay for travel applications.


Mobile Adoption Climbs, Driven by Travellers Young…and Older


The majority of travellers surveyed had a smart phone (69%), with North American travellers most likely to own one (78%) and APAC travellers least likely (46%). Daily usage is highest for email at 63% with internet not far behind at 49%. The study also found that nearly half of all travellers (47%) are 40 years old or older, demonstrating that the exploding use of mobile services is not strictly the domain of younger travellers. 


Today’s Features Gain Traction


Corporate and leisure travellers both showed strong adoption for using their mobile phone to gain timely and relevant information, in particular: 


·         Flight notification (72%)


·         Weather forecasts (68%)


·         Viewing of hotel locations via map (67%)


·         Flight performance (65%)


·         Destination information/city guides (64 %)


“Smart phones are becoming a traveller’s preferred tool for managing post-booking activities and getting relevant information,” said Greg Webb, chief marketing officer of Sabre Holdings.


“This trend has seemingly penetrated all ages across all continents, highlighting the tremendous opportunity for travel agencies and suppliers to leverage mobile solutions to demonstrate value to their customers and creatively reach target audiences,” he said.


Europeans lead North Americans in Adoption


Survey results revealed high levels of interest in services that Sabre and other travel technology providers are working on today, however Europeans rank ahead of North Americans and travellers in APAC in adoption of select features:


·         71% of Europeans are interested in using their mobile device to check in for flights, compared to 64 percent of North Americans.


·         64% of Europeans would like to select/change seats via their smart phone, higher than the 59 percent of North Americans.


·         55% of Europeans would use their mobile device to track their baggage, against 45 percent of North Americans.


·         54% of Europeans would like to use their smart phones to book flight upgrades, compared to 44 percent of North Americans.


Sixty three percent of all travellers are also open to automating re-accommodation services and checking in and out of hotels via mobile devices, with 61% interested in booking flights via their mobile in the future. Travelocity, a Sabre Holdings company, has noted a measurable increase in bookings originating from mobile devices in recent months.


All Travellers Open to Advertising with Free Travel Applications


All travellers surveyed are willing to accept advertising with free use of travel applications. For example, 28% of ‘Road Warriors’ (very frequent business travellers) said they preferred free applications with advertising, versus 8% who preferred to pay for the application.  Leisure travellers had a similar spread, with 22% preferring free with advertising versus five percent preferring to pay.  In Europe, 14% of respondents preferred free with advertising versus five who prefer to pay.


“There’s been a lot of experimentation with pay-for-services in the past but with advertising emerging as a more palatable choice for travellers, application providers and retailers now have a way of monetising their offering and driving more value out of a potentially lucrative marketing channel,” said Webb. “For our own part, Sabre remains committed to helping the travel industry advance their mobile strategies, and next year we will increase our mobile investments to continue growing our award-winning portfolio of mobile solutions for both agency and airline customers.” 


Sabre’s 2009 launch of TripCase, a mobile application available today for both iPhone and Blackberry users, continues to gain momentum with tens of thousands of individual downloads, Innovator of the Year nomination by PhoCusWright and being named “Best Travel App” by Business Week. Sabre’s Virtually There itinerary service is used by more than 30,000 travel agencies around the world and their customers.


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