95% of air travelers don’t use mobile for check in, booking, or other services
It’s rare to see a mobile usage survey that’s based on a representative sample of global travelers, but the annual SITA/Air Transport World Passenger IT Trends Survey is precisely that — a statistically valid representation of the 299 million passengers who pass through the world’s half-dozen largest airports.
This year’s survey finds that airlines and airports still aren’t seeing a payoff in mobile services.
Three out of every four passengers carry a smartphone, yet fewer than 5% of them use mobile devices to access check-in, booking, and other air travel services, says SITA (Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques), the industry consortium.
Airlines and airports might be better off investing in information services via mobile devices, given that 63% of global travelers say they would use their mobile for flight search and 58% to check flight status.
In the meantime, the industry might be advised to continue running a multi-channel strategy for other services, such as booking by mobile device — which passengers on average worldwide aren’t interested in yet.
Mobile is not the passengers’ first choice for check-in, either. The survey showed a strong preference instead for using kiosks and notebook/desktop computers to handle such tasks.
The survey included a mix of 2,489 passengers from more than 70 countries who recently passed through Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Mumbai, Frankfurt, Sao Paulo, and Atlanta.
One critique of the survey is that by focusing on worldwide averages, it misses the trends in the early adopter markets that could predict the future for everyone.
That said, the industry probably can agree that mobile penetration rates for its apps, mobile websites, and other mobile services leaves a lot to be desired.
Sean O’Neill is a New Jersey-based reporter for Tnooz. He is also a daily contributor of consumer news to LonelyPlanet.com.
He used to work for BBC Travel, BudgetTravel.com, and Kiplinger's, and used to live in London, New York City, and Washington, DC.