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Michigan State Study Finds More Use of Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops on Vacation

Destination & Tourism | James Shillinglaw | June 08, 2012

Michigan State Study Finds More Use of Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops on Vacation

A new study by Michigan State University (MSU) finds people are using communications technology such as smartphones, tablets and laptops more than ever while on vacation. The results of the study, which will appear in the forthcoming issue of Annals of Tourism Research, show that easy online access and personal devices have made the digital divide disappear for those on holiday.

“Not that long ago, travelers would need to find a payphone or send postcards to brag about their vacations. Now they just log on and send photos and text,” said Christine Vogt, MSU professor of community agriculture, recreation and resource studies, who co-authored the study with Kelly MacKay of Ryerson University (Canada). “Our results show clearly how the changing nature of IT behavior in everyday life is spilling over into our vacations.”

The MSU study found that wireless use was higher on vacation (40 percent) than at home (25 percent). In addition, figures that show that people used the web more to plan vacations (80 percent) than for work (70 percent). “Travelers are using their laptops and phones more often, and not just to plan vacations,” Vogt said. “Since Wi-Fi is available at most destinations, tourists are checking local weather forecasts, transportation schedules, restaurant recommendations, fishing reports, safe bicycling routes and much more.”

According to the study, the use of computers, iPads and smartphones at home and work is addictive, and the habit doesn’t end while on vacation. Future research will give the tourism industry insight on the best ways to serve vacationers’ online needs. “We hope to conduct more research across the various stages of vacations,” Vogt said. “This will help vacation service providers better understand what information travelers are looking for during trip planning and how it differs from the details they’re searching for after arrival.”

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