Death of the travel postcard as mobiles take over

Online retailers such as eBay and Amazon may have breathed new life into postal services around the world, but one stalwart of the mail is disappearing rapidly.

Research carried out with 2,000 adults in the UK has found that just under half (46%) have never sent a postcard and only 16% still regularly post a message home to friends, colleagues or family.

Just 55% of people have received one over the course of the past 12 months.

But does this mean travellers are avoiding that connection with folk back home? On the contrary, inevitably, with three out of five travellers using mobile SMS to keep in touch.

Around 40% will call back to the UK when travellers, while a third will use Facebook to post messages and upload pictures and other content.

Emailing features in the activities of 29% of travellers, the poll found.

Just 1% of those questioned in the study shunned any form of contact back home, while over a quarter will communicate several times a day.

So what is the problem with postcards (apart from the rise of mobile)?

Snail mail is living up to its name, with 38% claiming the process was too long to get messages home and 36% suggesting that finding a place to purchase stamps and a post box was a negative factor.

Ironically, given that many people post content on Facebook and Twitter that can be seen by anyone, one in ten claim their reason for snubbing the humble postcard is because they are “worried about the postman reading their holiday musings”.

The poll was commissioned by mobile network provider O2.

NB: Postcard image Shutterstock.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail to someone
Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Rodney

    Great article Kevin, I’ve been thinking a lot about postcards recently for an ‘offline social media campaign’ pilot. Clearly the convenience isn’t there in comparison to mobile. The process – go to shop and buy postcard, find a pen and remember to write on it, find somewhere to buy a stamp, find somewhere to send postcard, remember to send postcard before your trip ends – is too onerous.

    When I was down at INDABA recently, I ended up in a winery (obviously) that randomly had an old red British Post Box sitting in the tasting room. Imagine if they had 5 creative postcard designs with postage already paid and pens sitting right next to the post box. The business or a DMO could even sell them, or offer them as an up-sell, say on a tasting package.

    I think people would love to receive them and there’s far less competition for eyeballs vs Facebook, but maybe thats just the contrarian in me. An opportunity perhaps…

  2. Disarm Doors

    I LOVE receiving old-school postcards.

    Really personal, and you know someone has gone to some EFFORT to get it ot you.

    I’d say I receive one or two a month from a mate who travels regularly.

    Some of them are visually appalling. Some stunning. All appreciated.

    My kids grab them and pop them in our big, glass postcard jar.

    Also really enjoying receiving cards from these guys:

    Not yet convinced that the phone apps are much chop.

    Happy travels,


  3. Sceptical corporate traveller

    So the postcard is dieing when 55% of people RECEIVE one??? Lots of businesses would love a model that touched 55% of the population and where each customer made 3.44 purchases per year (or vacation, or whatever).

    Given no data provided on the overlap between those 16% who send cards and those who use other means (maybe a lot of the 16% do both, I certainly do!) nor any trend data on the rate of change what can you actually conclude reliably???????????????

    Soooo……….. another way of interpreting this data (if you are not a mobile phone company commissioning this study) is that a modest, but none trivial, number of people are pleasing a significant proportion of the population by using snail mail to bring a smile to their friends’ faces.

    It would be nice to think Tnooz headline writers were more in The Economist style of thinking and writing than that of The Sun.

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @sceptical corporate traveller…

      All valid points. Thx for sharing.

      However, I’ll write a more “The Economist-style” headline if you stop commenting anonymously, maybe?

  4. Sheila Scarborough

    I send postcards FROM my phone, by using the Postagram app. 🙂

    It’s about US$0.99 to create and mail (within the US) a postcard featuring one of your phone’s photos, plus a few lines of text. They’ll ship outside the US, of course, it just takes a bit longer. The photo can be detached from the postcard, too.

  5. Jason King

    In my line of work (Recruitment) we lost the “Thank You” note after the Interview that was Manadatory. It is now widely accepted worldwide to send a n email Thank you note. Young people that I meet ask (in all ernest) what is a typewriter? Postcard in my opnion still bring a smile to the recipient when they receive one from a friend or loved one. It says so much more to the receipent that the person selected a post card just for “you” wrote it out and it cost a pretty penny to mail. While digital postcards are pretty and fast to send take the time before it is too late (to find any postcards) and mail one to a freind and see the gladness it generates.

  6. Stuart L

    I send one to my mates kids when I go on holiday. £1 a pop. Bout the same as a text message abroad. Thoughtful and looks good on their corkboards/fridges. They love getting them too. Great mini pressie.


Newsletter Subscription

Please subscribe now to Tnooz’s FREE daily newsletter.

This lively package of news and information from Tnooz’s web site provides a convenient digest of what’s happening in technology that drives the global travel, tourism and hospitality market.

  • Cancel