Technology Moves to Center Stage

Director of Research and Online Marketing
Published 6/2/17
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Research, Trends and Takeaways from The State of the American Traveler – Technology Edition

Download The State of the American Traveler – Technology Edition research report

New technology has always been part of travel – from the convenience of the automobile, to the wonders of flight and the global reach of the Internet. 

In 2017, technology made another step change to move even further into the center of how travelers inspire, plan, book and share their travel experiences. 

Technology Edition – The State of the American Traveler 

The second annual Technology Edition of The State of the American Traveler surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. leisure travelers on their perception, use and ratings of technology in travel. This edition of The State of the American Traveler marked a decade of Miles’ support of this quarterly research conducted by Destination Analysts

The June 1, 2017, webinar on the new Technology Edition highlighted a wide range of insights on how U.S. travelers perceive and use technology in travel. 

Four major trends in the use of technology stood out from the research: 

#1: Technology Enthusiasm

The number of travelers who are activity seeking and valuing the benefits of new technologies in travel –  what we’ve termed Innovators, Early Adopters and the Early Majority – saw significant growth to 58% of U.S. leisure travelers.

#2: Mobile in the Mainstream

The increasingly central role of smartphones in travel planning, booking and sharing (including at the inspiration phase) was highlighted with 43% of U.S. travelers now agreeing with the statement “I research my leisure travel extensively using my mobile phone.” In fact, more than two-thirds of U.S. leisure travelers now report using their smartphone at some point in travel planning in the past 12 months.

#3: Gap in Perception vs. Use

A majority of U.S. travelers are aware of, and rate virtual reality (VR) and live streaming solutions as potentially offering value in travel planning. However, only a small minority of travelers (just slightly up from 2016) have actually tried them in the context of trip planning: 11% for VR and 16% for live streaming. These technologies need to move beyond the Innovators’ and Early Adopters’ audiences to offer real impact and value to travel marketers. 

#4: Word of Mouth Empowered

Traditional Word of Mouth continues to be a dominant form of influence on destination selection in travel planning (with 90%+ of travelers citing this) – but the reach of Social Media (esp: from friends and family) grew sharply to 45% of US travelers