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The Digital Elite Traveler

Steve Cohen

In the 2014 Portrait of Digital Travelers™, we surveyed U.S. residents in order to learn how they access the Internet.  The respondents were screened to ensure that we were speaking only to those with an annual household income of at least $50,000 who have taken a vacation in the last 12 months at least 75 miles from home that required overnight accommodations.   Four in ten (38%) of those access the Internet through both smartphones and tablets.  We call this group of travelers the Digital Elite.  In 2012, only 21% of American travelers received this designation, so clearly this group is rapidly expanding.

The Digital Elite traveler spent more on vacations than other travelers in 2013 ($5,848, compared to $3,997) and intend to spend more on vacations in 2014 ($6,446, compared to $4,025).  In 2014, the Digital Elite intend to spend 10% more on vacations than they did in 2013, while other travelers intend to spend only 1% more.  

The study is unique among others in the digital space, in that it focuses on usage of smartphones and tablets by this segment while on vacation, not just in everyday life, and their attitudes toward such usage.   One in ten Digital Elite travelers use their smartphones and tablets more on vacation than they do at home, while about half use them as frequently on vacation as they do at home.  It should be noted that two in ten Millennial Digital Elite travelers use their smartphones or tablets more during vacation than at home, compared to only one in ten or fewer Xers or Boomers.   

While on vacation, around eight in ten of the Digital Elite use their smartphones to make calls, take photos, access the internet or check email.  Seven in ten send text messages without attached photos/videos, while half send photo texts.  Half also use their smartphones to take videos.  

Interestingly, eight in ten Boomers use their smartphone to access email while on vacation, significantly higher than the seven in ten of Millennial travelers who do so.  Almost seven in ten Millennial Digital Elite use their smartphones on vacation to access social media, compared to only half of Xers or Boomers.  

The Portrait of Digital Travelers™ also explores how the Digital Elite feel about their smartphones and tablets in general, not just while on vacation.  Eight in ten believe these devices have made their lives easier, while seven in ten feel they have made their lives easier and led to them feeling more connected to the world.  Six in ten of the Digital Elite check their smartphones or tablets right before they go to sleep and as soon as they wake up in the morning.  

Although seven in ten digitally of the Digital Elite find advertising on their devices annoying, half have clicked through an ad on their tablet and over four in ten have clicked through on a smartphone ad.  A quarter of the Digital Elite find advertising on their devices to be useful.  

Want to learn more about the Digital Elite? Be sure to check out our latest infographic on smartphones, apps and travel

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