The Digital Elite Traveler

The Digital Elite Traveler

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According to the Global/Harrison Group Portrait of Digital Travelers, newly-released by MMGY, the use of both smartphones and tablets has increased so rapidly since 2011 that it has spawned a new class of travelers – the “Digital Elite.” These individuals own and use at least a smartphone and tablet to plan and purchase travel services, and the segment has grown from 5% of all active travelers to 33% today, an increase of over 600%.

The Digital Elite are travelers who either own or access the Internet on both a smartphone and tablet. Smartphone usage among active travelers has nearly tripled in just two years, to 62%. Tablet adoption has been even more rapid, up six-fold to 43% this year.

50% of the Digital Elite have children in their household, compared with just 37% of less-connected travelers, revealing a discernible family focus, says the report. They are also much more likely to have traveled with their kids (51 compared to 38%,) and their kids have greater influence. For example, the “Digital Elite” are significantly more likely to agree that their children influence the actual selection of vacation destinations (78 vs. 70%).

Steve Cohen, vice president of insights at MMGY Global, “… this new group… represents the ‘next generation’ of travelers… the Digital Elite… travel and spend significantly more than other travelers… (and) plan to spend even more in the year ahead…”

The Digital Elite are considerably more likely to try to relax while staying in touch with the office (40 vs. 30%). As such, they desire more time to relax and unwind (86 vs. 81%), and engage in relaxing activities more on vacation than they do at home, including drinking alcoholic beverages (53 vs. 43%), making love (41 vs. 35%), sleeping (38 to 32%) and reading (38 to 34%).

During the past year, the Digital Elite took significantly more leisure trips than their counterparts, 4.1 compared to 3.7, including weekend trips and long trips. They were also much more likely to take a last-minute trip (31% vs. 22%.) These travelers also spent an average of $4,988 compared to $3,812 than less-connected travelers, and intend to spend an average of $5,210 on leisure travel in the year ahead, compared to just $3,690 for their counterparts.

The Digital Elite are significantly more inclined to travel internationally, with 53% having taken at least one leisure trip outside the continental U.S. during the past year, compared with only 38% of less-connected travelers. Among them, 61% took a trip where the flight time exceeded eight hours, while only 55% of travelers have done so.

81% are on Facebook, and 48% are on LinkedIn. 33% are active on Twitter compared to just 19% of their counterparts, and 23% on YouTube and Google+. Twice as many are on Pinterest (19% vs. 9%). When it comes to finding the best prices for travel services, and the most convenient way to arrange travel plans, 53% of the Digital Elite more often turn to an online travel agency.

The Digital Elite are driving the demand for better web content from the travel industry, with nine in 10 having made travel reservations online last year. They are highly likely to find more sophisticated content, often designed specifically for the web shopping experience. For example: Interactive maps that explore the destination

Downloadable coupons for savings on air tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars and vacation packages
User-generated reviews or commentary from past visitors
Websites optimized for mobile
Virtual tours of the area
Easy-to-use booking feature
Photos of the area
Preview room locations

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