86% Of UAE Based Travelers Say Their Smartphone Is “Very Important”

Expedia.com®, one of the world’s largest full service online travel sites1, and Egencia®, the business travel brand of Expedia, Inc. Middle East Travel(NASDAQ: EXPE), last week released the results of the 2014 Expedia®/Egencia Mobile Index, a global study of mobile device-related behavior and preferences among travelers in North America, South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The study revealed the deep dependence modern travelers have on their mobile devices – defined as a smartphone, tablet, e-reader, laptop or smartwatch. Worldwide, 94% of people bring at least one mobile device when they take personal vacations, and 97% bring at least one device on business trips.

 The 2014 Expedia/Egencia Mobile Index was commissioned by Expedia and conducted online by Northstar, a global research and consulting firm. The study was conducted among 8,856 employed adults across 25 countries.

“We are entering a new era where people are moving fluidly across desktop, phone, tablet, even wearables as they dream, plan, book and then ultimately take their trip,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Expedia, Inc. and President, Expedia Worldwide. “Travelers are not only researching and booking trips on mobile, but they’re also complimenting their meals, complaining to providers and capturing every trip detail. This is the new normal when it comes to travel. We chose to take a closer look at multi-device habits amongst both leisure and business travelers worldwide to better understand how technology is being used throughout the journey so we can continue to deliver contextually relevant mobile experiences.

“For business trips, mobile devices are already a requirement for most travelers, and mobile usage trends are still increasing.  This is because mobile devices and enabling-apps make corporate travel smoother and more productive. Our study makes clear how business travelers integrate mobile functionality into their trips, and helps us develop the best experience on whatever device they use,” says Rob Greyber, president of Egencia.

Second only to India, UAE travelers are the most dependent on mobile devices – with 86% saying their smartphone is “very important/critical” versus 76% of global travelers who say the same. 89% of UAE travelers always bring a smartphone on business trips, and Emiratis are the most likely of all countries surveyed to always bring a laptop on leisure trips. These devices effectively serve as a concierge, guide and companion for travelers, who rely on smartphones, tablets and other mobile technologies during every stage of their trip. On the whole, more than one-third (35%) of the world’s travelers use their smartphones more when they travel than they do at home.

Power for Mobile Devices is Paramount

The 2014 Expedia/Egencia Mobile Index revealed that over 60% of UAE travelers come prepared in case their mobile device loses charge while traveling.29% of Emiratis keep a power cord with them at all times, to recharge their mobile device the moment it loses power. 21% carry a rechargeable case/battery pack and 11% would find a local shop or restaurant with a compatible charger who would allow them to plug in for a few minutes. Although 47% of global travelers reported that they would wait to recharge a powerless phone until they returned to their hotel, only 21% of Emiratis said the same.

Despite the seeming desire to stay connected, only 38% of UAE travelers purchase an international data/roaming plan when traveling. On the whole, Indians are by far the likeliest to do so, with 68% saying yes, while in contrast only 12% of the French purchase such a plan.

 Complimentary WiFi Considered Top Hotel Perk

Given the ubiquity of mobile devices, travelers increasingly prioritize WiFi accessibility. Over half (60%) of Emiratis indicate that WiFi availability and pricing impact their purchasing decision when selecting a flight and hotel. When asked to rank mobile-related hotel amenities, UAE leisure travelers deem complimentary WiFi even more important than business travelers who were asked the same, with 86% rating it as very or somewhat important when booking a hotel for personal travel versus 79% of business travelers.

When traveling for business or leisure, Emiratis utilize the following mobile app/device functions most frequently:

Camera/video recording:61%
Social media:57%
Entertainment (games, music, movies/TV shows):42%
Utility (alarm, calculator):29%

Weather: 27%

Globally, laptop and desktop computers are the most common ways to book travel. In contrast, smartphone use exceeds desktop use in the UAE, with 40% indicating they use smartphones and 33% using desktop computers to book travel compared with 25% and 41% of global travelers, respectively. Among both UAE leisure and business travelers, the most common smartphone uses include researching destinations (48% and 25%), shopping for flights (37% and 28%) and managing itineraries (32% and 26%).

Mobile Etiquette Held in High Regard

The 2014 Expedia/Egencia Mobile Index found that Emiratis view noise consciousness and privacy as top mobile technology etiquette concerns while traveling. “Making calls on speakerphone” is considered the most offensive smartphone behavior by 53% of UAE travelers, followed by “taking photos/videos of people they do not know” (44%) and “playing music/games/videos without headphones” (40%).

Other mobile technology-related behaviors that UAE travelers consider most offensive by others while in public include:

Loud mobile device alerts: 24%
Video calls/FaceTime/Skype: 24%
Making calls while in restaurant: 22%
Photographing food during meal: 21%
Messaging/emailing at seated performance/activity: 16%


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