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If you are a hotelier these days and you want to welcome in big business, it goes without saying that you need to connect with the digitally focused traveler.
But a recent study by MMGY Global, the 2014 Portrait of Digital Travelers, shows just how important it is for travel companies to stay up to date on the latest technology if they want to succeed.
In the study, MMGY Global surveyed 1,250 "Digital Elite" travelers (travelers who own and frequently use at least two different mobile devices) about their travel habits, preferences and intentions. And the study found that the Digital Elite take more vacations and spend more money on their trips than less connected travelers.
The group, which now represents 38 percent of all travelers (up from 21 percent in 2012), coughed up $5,848 on vacations during the past year, outspending less connected travelers by $1,850. On top of that, the Digital Elite plan to spend 10 percent more in 2015 ($6,446), while the less connected will increase spending by only 1 percent ($4,025).
The Digital Elite also took an average of 4.8 vacations during the past year, while other travelers averaged 3.8 vacations. More than one in five technologically savvy individuals (21 percent) plan to take more trips in the next year, too, compared to 17 percent of other travelers.
As you can imagine, the Digital Elite didn't exactly unplug in the past year. According to the survey, 54 percent used their smartphone as much on vacation as they did at home, while 51 percent of tablet users could not be separated from their electronic device. Most of the Digital Elite used their smartphones to make calls or take photos (82 percent), access the Internet (80 percent), bring up email and send texts (70 percent), use apps (64 percent) and access social media (54 percent). Tablet users preferred to compare airfares and hotel rates online (31 percent), read ratings of hotels, destinations and restaurants (28 percent) and book hotels and flights (26 percent).
In terms of which generations were most digitally demanding, you probably know where this is heading: seven in 10 Digital Elite travelers were either millennials (ages 18-34) or Gen Xers (ages 35-49). Millennials are certainly becoming more difficult for the travel industry to ignore, with 32 percent planning on taking more vacations in the next year (compared to 18 percent of Baby Boomers and 12 percent of Gen Xers). Millennials also plan on spending 21 percent more in 2015.
So how do you attract millennials?
It may pay for travel companies to feature experiential and authentic offerings. Six in 10 millennials said they don't want to "feel like a tourist" while on vacation. Millennials are also much more likely than Baby Boomers or Gen Xers to book a vacation based on the desire to experience different cultures and explore cuisine they haven't tried.
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