Skift Take

Forget the thousands of niche travel apps out there. Travelers today are using their smartphones to find out where to go and how to get there.

Finding directions is – unsurprisingly – the number one reason travelers reach for their smartphone in a new destination.

More than half of U.S. adults report using their phones to navigate a new destination via GPS — an activity more common than searching for restaurants (44 percent), looking up reviews (31 percent), and tracking flight changes (29 percent) — according to interviews with 2,550 U.S. travelers.

The study, which highlights the top ten most common travel activities done with a smartphone, was conducted as part of MMGY Global’s comprehensive 2014 Portrait of American Travelers.

Travel Activities Done with Smartphone Respondents
Navigate with GPS 54%
Search Restaurants/Shops 44%
Look Up Ratings/Reviews 31%
Monitor Flight Schedules/Delays 29%
Share Experience via Social Media 28%
Share Experience via Email 25%
Check-in via Location App 20%
Compare Airfare/Hotel Rates 20%
Scan QR Codes 12%
Use Mobile Boarding Pass 20%

Although smartphone apps today are able add context to historic sites via augmented reality and keep track of real-time flight changes, it is this most practical application that most travelers desire.

This trend is mirrored in respondents’ feedback on the most commonly downloaded apps. Of the 32 percent of travelers that download travel apps, almost half are using a map or GPS service.

The next most commonly downloaded apps are those used for flights (42%), hotels (39%) and flight schedules (38%).

Type of App Download Respondents
Map/GPS Service 46%
Flights 42%
Hotels 39%
Flight Schedules 38%
Destination Guides 29%
Travel Reviews 21%
OTAs 21%
Attractions/Theme Parks 19%
Rental Car Companies 18%



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Tags: mapping, maps, mobile

Photo credit: A man on the literal road checks his smartphone. Getty Images

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