Survey: how travellers use technology to search, book and play when away

Fairly comprehensive survey conducted by travel social network WAYN for the World Travel & Tourism Council paints an interesting picture of use of digital in travel.

The study, carried out in conjunction with Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine, asked nearly 3,580 people (780 US, 2800 non-US) a range of questions about how they plan, book and use technology with travel.

Which of the following do you use most frequently when travelling?

Mobile maps56%63%
Social networks38%64%
Virtual/3D tours30%27%
Virtual worlds0%10%
RSS feeds7%11%

When planning a trip, how many websites do you usually visit?


Which of the following do you use when travelling overseas?

Onboard wifi11%31%
Flickr etc9%14%
Phone booking3%16%
Metasearch engines41%8%
Digital guides12%24%
Location GPS apps12%25%
Read/update blogs28%22%

Which of these services would you try with a trusted provider?

Booking via mobile53%67%
Paying for in-flight web37%43%
Barcode check-in66%34%

One of the interesting elements of the survey is that the US respondents came from the Budget Travel audience, whereas the non-US were all WAYN members, perhaps signifying the differences in adoption on the social-type questions.

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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.



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  1. Anon

    Let’s be clear WAYN is mostly a dating site from what I can see. After being spammed by so many people who are like…

    ” X from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil would like to meet you on WAYN…

    To find out if you would like to meet them too, click on the following link: bla bla bla …”

    So let’s call it what it is and then decide if that is a truly social media. I guess in the purest of terms that is the case. But a significant portion of people who are users are not there for the travel if you know what I mean.


    WAYN Non-Groupie.

  2. Joe Buhler

    The online behavior of the global audience this survey claims to cover is probably as much all over the place as the survey itself!

  3. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    I think some of this has to be questioned.

    Given the paucity of Inflight Wifi/Web access currently available outside of North America – I have to question the veracity of this specific section of numbers. Otherwise Gogo Inflight should be jumping for joy. And another – call it a niggle – WAYN acknowledges my location as “Seattle England” complete with a St George’s flag.

    For the rest I think it is very important to remember the audience group. It will skew the results significantly in my view.


  4. Stephan Ekbergh

    Isn´t it typical to cluster people into US and NONUS?
    regarding meta engines:
    As far as Scandinavia goes I would say +60% use metaengines.
    As far as Africa goes i´d say less than 1%.
    Asia less than 10%
    Latam Less than 3%
    Germany +25%
    Uk +40%
    France, no idea etc.
    But this is only based on my own experience.

  5. Stuart

    Didn’t think I’d ever see the day when I’d see D&D and Travel Metasearch in the same post, but hey, these be crazy times.

    Is there a public link available to the real research? As it would be interesting to see this broken down more by region (eg Asia Vs EU rather than US Vs the World) and also, importantly by handset type.

    Odd selection of questions and criteria: Barcode checking for example isn’t widely available worldwide, onboard WiFi?? As opposed to offboard?.

    Facebook usage is interesting – wonder if buoyed by the deals it has in say Indonesia and other Asian countries where you can access it via Blackberry and other handsets for zero cost.

    Only 3% of US travellers use Twitter when travelling? Find that very difficult to credit.

    Re Metasearch — pull up Joe Traveller on the street and ask them what a “metasearch engine” is and you’ll find many, if not most will struggle to give you a clear and accurate answer. It’s an industry term.

    Still, be good to see the actual Q&A and the full report.

  6. Tweets that mention Survey: how travellers use technology to search, book and play when away | Tnooz --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sam Daams, Jared Salter, Trish, Stephan Hochdörfer, iBAHN_emea and others. iBAHN_emea said: RT @tnooz LATEST: Survey: how travellers use technology to search, book and play when away […]

  7. Michael Rhodes

    Hi Kev

    Was wondering was this across a broad age range?



  8. Sam Daams

    Wow, wonder who would like to back to the meta search engine model outside of the US based on these stats… clearly you’d need to do more research (WAYN’s traffic might be mostly from 1 or 2 countries skewing the stats), but this supports what I see around me. Local players and language matter a lot more than saving 2 dollars on a flight 🙂

    • Jerome

      Sam, actually, this survey was conducted globally – over 7,000 respondents from all geographies at equal ratio. J

      • Jerome

        Sorry meant to say 3500 😉

        • Sam Daams

          ‘geographies at equal ratio’ does that mean the 2800 non-US responses equals 14 per country for each of the 200 or so countries, or were countries weighted by population, ie China/India would count for roughly 30-40% of the responses?

          Graham also pointed out on Twitter that the question “Which of the following do you use when travelling overseas?” could be read in two different ways. He took it as “when travelling”, ie when already abroad. I took it as “when (planning) travelling”. So I’m guessing it’s a bit difficult to make any real conclusions based on that question.

          Also, I’d imagine folks at tripadvisor/fly/zugu etc all have done extensive research in their market places before investing all the time, money and tech in this model…

          • India Tours

            Sam thats true that local language matters a lot in Europe as its diverse regions with various languages. However the other reason for meta search engine to be very successful in USA is because of a huge market and international population. Additionally the fact that meta search engines till lately worked best with domestic flight comparisons than International – which is largely the case when the whole NON-US segment is considered. Irrespective of WAYN research

    • Jeremy head

      Personally I hope this is correct… (ie I agree with you Sam). I hate meta search… It just devalues products and encourages everyone to obsess about price… and there is so much more to a travel experience (even a flight) than just the cost.

      • Jen

        I don’t necessarily think meta searches are bad. This survey shows that over 50% of travelers visit 6+ sites to plan their trip. That’s pretty crazy if you ask me! I personally don’t have the time or patience and want a one-stop-shop kind of site.

        The real question is whether travelers are visiting so many sites because they are price shopping or looking for numerous sources of advice/reviews regarding their trip.

    • Dean Blume

      Sam – in the PDF outlining the study (link is below), it shows value greatly outweighs price, to your point.

      Vacation shoppers in the vacation rental market, which provides great value for the price, tend to prefer to book on localized, destination-based or property branded sites – if they can. Currently, shoppers are largely limited to vacation rental aggregate sites such as VRBO/HomeAway/FlipKey because most vacation rental properties are still forming an online presence that accommodates online bookings.

      Stuart – The best original sources I could find are:

  9. Ciaran -

    very interesting survey,

    you can see mob apps and location devices will continue to grow in importance.

  10. Graham

    Virtual worlds…?

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @graham – you’re too young to remember them 😉

      • Graham

        do you mean second-life? or do you mean dungeons and dragons old?

        Or are we talking augmented reality?


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