Age-based assumptions about smart phone use by travellers are “unhelpful”, according to academic research.
Dr Andreas Liebrich, an e-tourism specialist at the University of Lucerne, told the World Tourism Forum: “There is no correlation between age and smart phone bookings.”
Liebrich reported on a study of smart-phone use among travellers in the UK, Germany and France, with more than 1,000 consumers surveyed in each market.
The study aimed to look at the behaviour of so-called Generation Y consumers, also known as Millenials. Definitions vary, but the study focused on consumers born between 1977 and 1988.
Researchers looked at the incidence of hotel and flight bookings by mobile device, and at bookings of local activities while respondents were away.
Liebrich said: “Our results show that when it comes to mobile behaviour and the adoption of new technology, intergenerational behaviour is narrowing more than we think. Age segmentation is not helpful.”
He explained: “We could see some differences by market but they were not significant so we put the results together. During the booking journey there was no clear correlation to age.
“The biggest difference was between light users of smart phones and heavy users.”
He argued: “In the travel planning phase, it does not make sense to target smart-phone users by age.” The researchers also looked at responses to promotional ‘push offers’ and flash sales.
Liebrich said: “We could not identify a difference between generations, but when we looked at behaviour there was a clear pattern. Heavy users of smart phones were way more comfortable with push offers than lighter users.”
Professor Graham Miller, head of the school of hospitality and tourism management at Surrey University, suggested: “It is slightly lazy to think Generation Y do this and Generation X do that.”
PwC partner and industry leader for lodging and tourism Nicolas Mayer told the forum: “I’m not going to think about ‘Millenials’ any more. The definition Generation Y is silly.”
He suggested the industry “do away with stereotypes”.