updated 10:30 pm EDT, Thu September 29, 2011
iPads for research, smartphones for photos and GPS
Mobile advertising network Greystripe surveyed iPad and smartphone users this summer about their travel habits and how their mobile devices help them with travelling -- either through setting up travel bookings for transportation and hotels or as a GPS unit or method to pass the time while in transit. The results show a strong link between travel activities and iPad usage, with 93 percent of users engaging with their devices while travelling, and 91 percent using it for a travel-related activity.
The study, which is available for download, also found that iPad users were the group who saw themselves most as frequent travellers (67 percent). Sixty percent of them said they had booked travel with the iPad, a higher figure than those who book travel using an iPhone or Android device (49 percent).
About half of smartphone and iPad users use apps to research travel destinations (attractions, restaurants and activities) or search for prices and availability, but iPad users were significantly more likely to also use websites to find this information as well. The latter group were also far more likely (47 percent to 30 percent) than smartphone users to use the iPad rather than a smartphone to book hotels, and were also more likely to use the iPad to book flights or car rentals. Smartphone users were more likely to book train or bus passage, and equally likely as iPad users to book guided tours.
Greystripe commissioned the study, which was conducted with 971 users on their ad network over the months of June and July, after noticing that travel-related ad campaigns had grown nearly 50 percent over the last year. The survey found that the majority of users start with online searches for travel-related information, then use either other websites or mobile apps to book. Smartphone owners tend somewhat to be more price-conscious than iPad users, with 73 percent saying their travel decisions were guided mainly by price, while only 63 percent of iPad owners said the same.
Smartphones still dominated in use during travel, with 85 percent using them for picture taking (compared to just 52 percent of iPad users) and video taking, surfing the web and checking in on social network (54 percent to 37 percent). Smartphones were also the top choice for getting directions or using GPS (88 percent to 78 percent). The iPad, however, came out on top when it came to reading e-mail (87 percent to 84 percent), viewing travel videos and comparing prices (43 to 27 percent).
The iPad's larger screen gives it a natural advantage over smartphones when a lot of reading of video viewing is required, but smartphones remain more convenient to use for photo- and video-taking as well as spur of the moment access to the internet. Users of the iPad were twice as likely to read travel magazines on the device than to use a smartphone to do the same thing, but about equally likely as smartphone users to use the device to make a restaurant reservation. Most travellers, the survey found, take both devices with them when they travel if they own both.