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Travel is an experience that can’t be satisfactorily re-created in the virtual world. But digital technology and connectivity have changed the way most of us travel.
A new study sponsored by Text100, a global marketing consultant, explores some of those changes and the ways travelers use the Internet and mobile devices before, during and after their trips.
Text100 collected 4,600 online interviews with leisure travelers from 13 different countries. Some of the results are quite interesting.
Because this was an online survey, it’s not surprising that most of the respondents would be heavy users of the Internet and online media. Still, what seems like a whopping 88 percent said they take a device such as a smartphone or iPad while on vacation, and 61 percent fess up to using their device at least once a day.
Worldwide, 68 percent of the respondents said they use the devices to check in with family and friends. Male and female travelers were equally likely to carry and use their device.
(Even on vacation, about 22 percent of respondents use their devices for work-related activities. I think I might cry.)
When a traveler makes a decision about where to vacation, recommendations from friends and family are still the biggest influence. About 63 percent of respondents said that kind of personal input is still important.
But 55 percent say they rely in whole or part on Internet searches to decide where to travel. And 39 percent still consult with a traditional travel agent or travel planner — never a bad idea.
Globally, more than half of travelers who search online while planning vacations are looking for information about prices and hotel rates. About 40 percent seek out information concerning nearby attractions and 30 percent look for information about the quality and cleanliness of facilities.
I’ve always been skeptical of consumer-generated online travel reviews at sites such as TripAdvisor, believing that a traveler is more likely to write a review after a negative experience than a positive one, skewing the results. But, according to the study, the results might be skewed the other way.
Globally, about 35 percent of respondents say they are likely to post online reviews about positive vacation experiences while less than 10 percent say they would post about a negative outing.
The most trusted online sources for travelers are also those websites with consumer-generated reviews.
The least trusted: travel columnists. So take what you’re reading with a grain of salt.
Steve Stephens is the Dispatch travel writer. He can be reached at 614-461-5201 or by email.
(c)2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio). Distributed by MCT Information Services.