Have Smartphones Changed How We Travel?
The Internet has been nothing short of a revolution. It has changed the way people gather information and connect to each other. It has also enabled the rise businesses that did not exist 20 years ago.
From 2000 to 2013 the internet has grown by astounding levels. Mobile internet alone was more than twelve times the size of the entire internet fourteen years ago! When Apple unveiled the iPhone they ushered in the era of real mobile internet. No more WAP or tiny mobile sites that were practically unusable. Smartphones allow us to really use the internet. Whether we are using it to watch youtube videos, want to pin something on a wall, use an app to reserve a taxi or a table at a restaurant, it has been nothing short of amazing.
One would almost forget that we also use our smartphones to -gasp- make phone calls. But the usage for phone calls is dwindling when compared to using it for the internet, listening to music, playing games, using apps and making photos.
Look at a group of people and one thing becomes apparent: our smartphones are at the center of our attention. Our lives revolve around our portable screens. More than 85% of leisure travelers say that their smartphone is the most important device to pack. For business travelers the smartphone is even more important as it is their gateway to files, emails, contacts and what not.
What do people search for when they are traveling for vacation of business? The results are obviously not surprising. People check their emails, the weather, use maps for location purposes and finding restaurants. Leisure travelers especially are more cautious when traveling, especially when abroad to roaming charges. Business travelers often have their mobile internet charged paid by their employer.
Given the growth of mobile internet in the last decade it will be interesting to see how our mobile data usage will change and how that will drive smart devices to change as well. One of the major improvements smartphones have gives people is the access to interactive maps. The necessity for paper maps is a lot less apparent and translation tools make communication barriers easier to overcome. And although smartphones haven’t really changed the way we travel, it sure has made things a lot easier.