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Cornell Study Finds Travelers Want More Mobile Options

As the hospitality industry gradually ramps up its mobile platforms, a new study published by the Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) finds that travelers are ready to use their smartphones and tablets for far more than is currently possible. The study of 754 U.S. travelers, by Heather Linton and Robert Kwortnik, also found that privacy remains a concern—even though many travelers are willing to share personal information in exchange for special offers and services.
The study, "The Mobile Revolution Is Here: Are You Ready?," is available at no charge from the CHR.
"Our respondents are ready to use their mobile devices while they travel, and not just to get information," said Linton, who is a doctoral student at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration (SHA). "Most of our respondents already use their smartphones and tablets for research, both before and during their trip. But young travelers in particular would like to make more use of their mobile devices for things like checking in or out of a hotel, and receiving text notifications when their room is ready."
"We encountered some intriguing issues relating to mobile devices," added Kwortnik, who is an associate professor at the SHA. "For example, about two-thirds of our respondents had downloaded at least one travel-related mobile application, but then half of those apps had subsequently been deleted. Additionally, the travelers were less interested in downloading individual hotel apps than in using a general lodging app that could store their preferences and through which multiple hotels could use the traveler's profile to provide a more customized stay."
"We can only conclude that the industry needs to take a more careful look at the user experience connected to mobile apps," said Linton. "We could not determine what was troubling our respondents, but there's some kind of friction."
Analyzing the travelers' privacy issues, the researchers found that respondents particularly dislike the idea of apps that include automatic geolocation. However, since some travelers are willing to share limited personal information, particularly women and young travelers, the industry needs to determine what offers would attract these travelers.
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