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CTRI:Social Media and Mobile Travel

The Canadian Tourism Research Institute (CTRI) has been tracking the level of online travel booking and researching since 2000. Their latest survey found that 77% of Canadian travellers plan to book at least part of their winter 2010/11 vacation online. In 2000, online travel booking was still an emerging activity, but has now become an integral part of the travel industry. A new emerging market in the travel industry is social media and mobile travel.

Worldwide research has shown that the use of both social media websites and mobile devices is on the rise with no signs of stopping. Research in the United States and the United Kingdom is extensive in this area, but little is known about the Canadian traveller and their use of social media and mobile devices.

The most recent Travel Intentions survey (October 2010) revealed the emergence of mobile device travel applications being part of the travel arrangement process. Currently 5% use mobile device applications in arranging winter vacation trips. While this figure is likely to increase over time, perhaps the bigger potential role that mobile devices play today is as a means by which to facilitate timely and relevant information to travellers while travelling. In fact, 46% currently use their mobile devices while travelling to purchase elements of the trip (accommodations/meals/events tickets/car rentals).

This “active travel phase” is already contributing to the revenues of Canada’s tourism sector, but has the potential to contribute much more as technological solutions evolve. The potential for Canada’s tourism sector to benefit from fully leveraging this “active travel phase” rests on the ability to not only increase average expenditures per trip, but also to increase the satisfaction of travelling in Canada. However, from a competitive standpoint, it must be understood that every other market is looking to do the same. Social media is also impacting the travel industry in a big way. Social media is one of the most powerful forces driving planning today and is growing faster than the industry itself.

Nearly half of the Canadian population(48%) is registered on Facebook, the number one social media website worldwide, and its use spans all demographics. (The Conference Board of Canada November 2010).

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